Medical Retirement under FERS: Revisiting Updike

He wrote about mundane things; of middle class neighborhoods, Pennsylvania towns in which he grew up; farmlands before strip malls replaced them against the skyline of cornfield rows; and of affairs that grew naturally out of a revolution emancipated from the Sixties; of quiet sufferings and the rhythmic monotony of ordinary lives.

John Updike was an “in-betweener” — too young to fight in WWII, too old to have been drafter for the Vietnam debacle; and so he experienced the quietude and normalcy in between the two bookends of this country’s tumult and trials.

Updike was a voice for generations who saw the post-war era, of baby-boomers and American prosperity at its zenith; of the loss of any normative confluence of moral dictum and the abandonment of constraints once imposed by Protestantism.  All, of course, with a twinkle in his eye and a ready smile.  The Internet abounds with photographs of this uniquely American author — almost all with that thin smile as if he was about to share a private joke.

The Tetralogy of the Rabbit novels (actually a quintet if you include the last of the series, a novella entitled “Rabbit Remembered”) evinces a country gone soft after the harsh period of the Great Depression, the Second World War, the Korean conflict and the Vietnam era that undermined the ethical mandates known for generations before, unleashing a liberty of hidden sins like a bubbling cauldron of untamed desires.  But in the end, he is best known for the mundane, the ordinary, and how life in the suburbs of a prosperous nation left an emptiness unspeakable except by a voice given in narrative brilliance, from an author who was a regular contributor to The New Yorker.

Somehow, he made the ordinary seem exciting, even relevant.  By contrast, modernity has focused upon the rich and famous, and of greater unreachable glamour where perfection surpasses pragmatism.  Updike was able to make the commonplace seem important, the ordinary appear significant and the monotony of the mundane as not merely prosaic.  And isn’t that all that we seek, in the end?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the loss of relevance, the ordinary and the commonplace is what often scares the Federal or Postal employee.

The job itself; the career; the monotonous routine of going to work, yet finding relevance in the act of “making a living” — these were all taken for granted in Updike’s short stories.  That other stuff — of infidelities and dalliances — were a deviation that Updike tried to point out as mere fluff in otherwise ordinary lives; and of medical conditions, they upend and disrupt the normalcy we all crave.

Federal Disability Retirement is a means to an end — of bringing back balance within a life that has become disrupted, but it is a way to bring back order where disruption to the mundane has left behind a trail of chaos.  And to that, the twinkle in Updike’s eyes and the thin smile would tell us that he would approve of such a move which will return you back to a life of mundane normalcy.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits under FERS: Ballast for the soul

It is a plagiarized phrase, from a short story written by Brazil’s (often-considered) greatest writer, Machado de Assis.  It is that heavy material, where a large quantity of gravel, iron, metals, etc., placed low in a vessel in order to provide stability; the weight itself is what “grounds” the vessel so that the torrents of waves and storms of fury will not topple it.  Or, it can refer to the coarse gravel used in order to set railroad tracks, again allowing for stability of a foundation to prevent shifting, sinking or damaging movement.

When combined with the term, “the soul”, the concept created is one of conjoining the dual ideas of (a) providing a foundation with (b) an ungraspable concept of an entity that many believe does not even exist.  The “soul”, of course, is a controversial subject; for, it still remains from the vestiges of religious and philosophical discourses, and refers to an abiding entity that defies mortality, retains an identity beyond one’s physical appearance, and contains the essence of who a person is, whether in physical form or not.

Does the soul “need” a ballast?  Without it, does it merely flit about without duration or direction?

As a literary concept, it refers to the stability that individuals need in order to become more serious, more focused, and perhaps even more “mature”.  As a general idea, it comes to convey the concept of pragmatism and the need to be “grounded” in a universe where there exists so many beliefs, so many paths to get off course; and the dangers inherent in pulling people aside from living an authentic and fulfilling life are many, as evidenced by the number of wandering souls left to rot on the roadside of discarded souls.

What is the ballast for the soul?  Is it to be married and have a family?  Is it the immediate family one already has — or the extended one?  Or can a cadre of friends and one’s immediate neighbors provide the ballast for the soul?

For each individual, the answer to that question may differ and remain a mystery; but what is clear, mystery or not, is that the vicissitudes of life’s choices, without a ballast for the soul, are so numerous and of such great variety, that liberty of endless choices endangers the essence of every person. Health itself can be an unknown ballast; for, with it, we take for granted our ability to accomplish so many things in life; without it — when it is “lost” — we suddenly realize that the ballast of health can upend that which we took for granted — career; stability; sense of worth; sense of self.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers whose ballast has been lost because of a medical condition, it may be time to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Medical conditions are often the storms of life which topple the vessel once the foundation of stability has been robbed, and Federal Disability Retirement benefits can restore one’s sense of security such that a re-focusing upon the priority of health and well-being can be attained, so that the ballast for the soul can be reestablished in a world full of turmoil and tumult.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement under FERS: Appropriateness

How does one learn it, and if one never recognizes its opposite — inappropriateness — does that then shield one from recognition of its negative consequences?  Is it the suddenly silence of the room, the averted eyes of those around, or the pink flush of a blush that suddenly tells of the inappropriateness of what was said, or done?  But what of its antonym — do we learn only when someone else says, “Yes, yes, quite appropriate“, and if so, how did that person learn what was or wasn’t?

Is appropriateness merely a human convention, an artificial construct that allows for a mindless continuum that barely retains its relevance beyond the insularity of a self-contained characteristic?

For federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal employee is under FER05S, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the appropriateness of what to include in a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, is often a question of discretion and experience.

What evidence, beyond the obvious medical evidence, can and should be filed?  What should be included in one’s Statement of Disability as required on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability?  How much personal information, historical facts and background data should be “appropriately” included in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability?  Should family members, friends or coworkers provide a statement, as well, and is it “appropriate” to do so?

In the end, appropriateness is a concept that should be tailored by the context of the action, and it might be a good idea to consult with an experienced attorney before preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, as such a consultation would certainly constitute an appropriateness under the circumstances, and may well be inappropriate to fail to do so.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Here

So much time is spent upon the anticipation of some event in the distant future; or, perhaps merely tomorrow, next week, next year.  Here is where we are; in the “now”, the immediacy of a life being lived.  Human beings are peculiar, unique and devastatingly unaware to that extent; we give lip-service to the notion of attaining happiness, joy and the capacity to relish the precious gift of life, while all the while failing to embrace and embody the here of this moment.

Look at tourists visiting the various wonders of the universe; do they seem to enjoy the experience of viewing ancient relics or places where momentous events occurred?  Or, are they busy trying to make sure that the video camera or the Smart Phone is capturing the smiles, the scenery and the attraction just beyond?  How many videos of the same places exist in the world today, tucked away in the memory banks of a digital chip?  What is the difference between the video chip stored in a personal Smart Phone as opposed to a professional movie that explores the identical tourist destination?

What is missing, of course, is the experience of the “here”.  Thus, when asked the question, “So, did you go and visit the famous ruins of X?”  The answer is too often, “Yes, and let me show you the video I took of X.”  As opposed to: “Yes, and let me try and describe to you the beauty of X.”  Anticipatory living is not necessarily a negation of living the “here” of one’s life, or even the “now”; but it comes close to missing out.

For the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position, the need to file for Federal Disability Retirements benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is precisely the “here” that one is trying to preserve, by securing a “tomorrow” worth fighting for.

It is the “here” of one’s medical condition, the “here” of one’s health, and the “here” of some semblance of financial security that is the whole point of a Federal Disability Retirement benefit.  Yes, it is for tomorrow, and the process is a long, administrative headache that may not be approved until many tomorrows and another; but in the end, it is the “here” that is worth preserving, and the first step in securing a worthy tomorrow is by initiating the process of a Federal Disability Retirement application here and now.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Regarding dogs and books

They are the two default positions to happiness, loneliness and sorrowful days that can only be solved along with a cup of hot chocolate.  What is amazing and somewhat perplexing is that, as to the former, the very fact that one species of life can have such a close and interacting relationship with another existent species is an incomprehensible truism steeped in beauty.

History has established that people and dogs maintain a unique synchronism that goes beyond mere parallel existence.  We can walk among birds and hear them chirping; jog past a rabbit that freezes, then scurries away; and even have a suspicious but interactive peace accord with squirrels, cats and gerbils; but of a dog that awaits your every move and watches with loyal love, there is a special relationship and bond that can never be described by words alone.

As to the other elements in the twin concepts of the title above, what can one say?  Books are the products created by the uniqueness of language; the compendium of complexities amalgamated by first a letter, then a word, then words within sentences that elongate into paragraphs; then, slowly, page by page, they form to create a work – of fiction, non-fiction, a mixture of both, either or neither as in crime novels, “true life” extracts and the admixtures of imagination, images, memory and reminiscences.

Books allow for loneliness to dissipate when betrayal and disloyalty have reared their ugly heads; when backstabbers and plain meanness whips the urns of ashes deadened with ancestral grief upon a rainy night of groans and tears wept upon what could have been; and then we can get lost in a good book and feel the air being disturbed by the wagging tail of a dog so loyal.

Regarding dogs and books – there is no replacement for such a duality of life’s mystery.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition may necessitate filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the feeling that the “world” has betrayed because the Federal agency or Postal Service is unwilling to accommodate and “work with” your medical condition is a true enough fact; but don’t let that fact of disloyalty dissuade you from recognizing that there are still entities out there who remain loyal – like your dog (if you own one; and if you don’t, you should get one).

And also remember that the goal of getting OPM Disability Retirement benefits is tantamount to reading a good book – it allows you to reorient yourself and regain the proper perspective by allowing you to focus upon the priorities of life – of your own health.

People often think that life is complex beyond endurance these days; but in the end, a loyal dog and a good book are about all that one needs to attain happiness – and, of course, one’s health, which is the primary reason why fighting for one’s Federal Disability Retirement is important, so that you can focus upon maintaining your health, so that you can sit with a good book beside a loyal dog: the key ingredients to ecstatic joy itself.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement under FERS & CSRS: The character of each day

What does the day bring?  Do we awaken, put our finger up to the winds of time or the breeze of the day and ask that question before getting up, dressing and opening the door into a world beyond that may or may not fulfill the promises we believe to be granted?  Or, regardless of the indications, the barometers that forewarn or the compass that fails to direct, do we nevertheless move forward and tackle the challenges faced or otherwise deliberately and willfully avoid?

Does it make a difference, in an “objective” sense, whether we consult the horoscope or check the biodynamic calendar to see if it is an “unfortunate” day to engage in this or that activity; or to stay away from groups of people identified by certain signs or symptoms, revealed or otherwise concealed?

What determines the character of each day – the world at large, the elements within, of the person who steps out into the world?  Or, like the old puzzle that even the Sphinx could not answer, is it by genetic dominance, predetermination and the innate structure of our DNA, or the environment that one is brought up in that forms and conforms the individual personality, content and essence of an individual?

It is always interesting to observe the ritualistic tendencies of each individual that one engages in before battling the turmoil of the day’s challenges; whether one exercises before or after; does eating a meal energize or bloat; are there superstitions embraced before the car door is opened and shut and the engine of time begins the day; these and more determine the character, for many, of each day.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who must by necessity battle with the medical condition unasked for, unsolicited and without regard to a choice of superstitions allowed, the character of each day has already been somewhat determined.  The only question remaining is, can you endure the harassment from the job, the lack of respect and the constant undermining of accommodations requested by forging forward despite the lack of character in others already shown each day, or is it time to prepare an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset?

Sometimes, the character of the each day is determined not so much by the content of one’s own inner strength, but by the lack thereof in others, and that is something that you cannot do anything about except to “move on” and leave behind the Federal agency or the Postal facility that fails to show any character at all, each day or any day.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Law: Confidence and Self

When attached to someone other than a “self”, the issue can always allow for suspicion of absence; for, just as we can never fully know someone else, no matter how long we have been acquainted, how many decades married, and how well we have queried, interrogated or otherwise cross-examined, so the capacity of mystery may still remain that surprises us on the other’s deathbed.

What if you were married to someone for half a decade, and every Thursday during the entire blissful state of matrimonial embrace, the significant other went out to purportedly play bridge, or for a “night with friends”, or some other innocent activity encouraged and tolerated (if only because it gave you a break from the daily routine and monotony as well); and, on a twilight’s confession before departing this world, you learned that through all of those years, those many decades and countless hours of being left out, left behind or otherwise excluded, you learn that instead it was for another reason?  Would the reason itself make a difference?

Say, for instance, it was in order to see a therapist each week – would that then result in a question of confidence – whether about one’s own adequacy in supporting the loved one, or concerning the other who felt the need not only to seek help, but moreover, to keep it hidden all of these years?  Or, change the hypothetical for a moment, and instead posit that an “affair” had been ongoing for decades – would that shatter the confidence of fidelity one had in the other, or perhaps in one’s self as to an ability to “know” the world about, and come to be shaken to the core such that you could no longer believe in anyone, anything or any story, including the narrative of one’s own life that always previously appeared to be “happy” by all or most accounts?

Confidence is a fragile entity; a characteristic of the soul that takes but a minor injury to suddenly catapult into a traumatic event; and the “self” is always a mystery that the “other” can never quite grasp, no matter how many decades of study and analysis.

That is why a medical condition is so often an insidious invader and purveyor of shaken confidence, because the equation of physical or psychological derailment works upon an already fragile essence of the human self.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties at the Postal Service or the Federal Agency because of a medical condition that intervenes and interrupts, the need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often intimately interconnected with issues of self, confidence, and the compound of the two – self-confidence.

It may be that the actions of the Federal agency or Postal facility have completely shattered and shaken one’s self-confidence; or, that confidences previously protected and privacy once thought to be inviolable have been breached; whatever the reasons, a medical condition will often invade the core of a self in doubt, and the confidence of one’s self may need to be repaired by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire