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 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

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The little pleasures in life

One often suspects that the concept itself was invented by the wealthy and scornful — perhaps in some back room where caviar and champagne were being served, and someone whispering, “Let the little people have some little pleasures in life…”.  It is that which we are prevailed upon to believe as the ultimate contentment of life: of the “little pleasures” that pass by as the greater significance, as opposed to owning an original Monet or a Renoir.

Is it all bosh?  Does sitting alone with a fresh cup of coffee before the din of life invades — can one glean any greater pleasure than that very moment of quietude just before?  When one stands in those rare moments of uplifting insights — as when, on a clear and darkened sky, you look up and see the trail of a shooting star — does the fact that everything else in the world seems to be falling apart make up for it because you suddenly realize the majesty of the colorful universe above?  Or of a playful lick from your pet dog, the squealing laughter from a child’s joy, and even of the simple pleasure of reading; do these bring greater pleasures than caviar and the roar of a yacht’s engine?

Perhaps there is truth in the admonition of the wealthy that little people should be allowed to enjoy the little pleasures in life; otherwise, what would we all be left with?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the little pleasures in life will often have become the greater tragedies of reminders — reminders that you cannot even do those things you once took for granted.

When that critical juncture of realization comes about, then there is often the further recognition that it is time to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, to be submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order “go back to the basics” — of prioritizing one’s health as opposed to work and career; of regaining the little pleasures of life, like having a restful sleep without the interruption from pain or anxiety.

For, in the end, whether born of wealth and privilege or of ever struggling to meet a bill, it is truly the simple pleasures of life that provide for the foundational clarity of truth in a world that promotes falsity that becomes revealed when the importance of one’s health comes to the fore.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The perfect person

By all accounts, he or she doesn’t exist, except perhaps in theoretical constructs of theological paradigms; and of academia, where one may argue some alternate version of Anselm’s argument by positing that, because the concept of perfection could not be thought of without the reality of a Being constituting perfection, ergo a perfect Being – God – must by necessity exist.

Yet, we live “as if” the perfect person exists – either imposing such a standard unknowingly, unwittingly and unwillingly upon our own selves, or by thinking that movie characters actually exist somewhere in the ephemeral world of Hollywood, Instagram and Facebook concoctions that only put forward to the public’s eye the image of perfection.

We overlook the distorted concept of perfection when we say of a movie character, “Oh, he’s not perfect; he drinks too much, cheats on his spouse and is violent.”  Yet, the make-believe character still solves the mystery, is philosophically coherent when drunk, and somehow remains an attractive character despite all such character flaws.  In other words, despite the appearance of flaws, we make gods of characters we create.

It is the same on the Internet – despite the knowledge by all that there does not exist the perfect person, nevertheless, we allow for Facebook postings and Instagram photographs of meals, dogs, kids, families, selves and neighborhoods as the perfect depiction of unblemished lives.  And of ourselves, perhaps the greatest of culprits alive – for perpetuating the mythological depiction by engaging in the flim-flam of projecting the existence of the perfect person.

Yet, what is the alternative?  No one wants to hear the perpetual whining of the constant apologist – that person who points out his own failures and shortcomings at the drop of the proverbial hat; of he who apologizes for the slightest of errors, the scent of a mistake and a hint of failure to reach perfection.  Name a movie character or a movie, excepting a comedy, where the character is merely a bundle of imperfections and unattractive to boot.  Even Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther series, played long ago by Peter Sellers and by others more recently, captured the culprit in the end, despite all of the blunders and pitfalls.

In the end, we all participate in the grand larceny of perpetuating the existence of the perfect person – until we are hit with a medical condition, and the façade then suddenly falls apart.  Yet, everyone else continues in the charade.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who can no longer keep up with the make-believe world of the perfect person because of a medical condition, where the medical condition prevents the appearance of the perfect person to perform all of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, it may be time to admit imperfection by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted ultimately to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the imperfect Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

For, in the end, it is the perfect person who embraces the imperfection of this world, and that is at least a beginning for the Federal or Postal employee who must continue to face the Federal Agency or the Postal Service in facing the reality of living imperfectly in this all too perfect universe.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: The changing straw

The “straw that broke the camel’s back” is a known idiom that essentially reveals to us the last in the series of incidents or actions that cumulatively result in the destruction of the whole.  What in the series preceding the last straw; of what weight and import; to what significance may be attributable, we rarely focus upon; it is the last one in the series that we focus our attention upon, precisely because we assume that it is the causal connection to the event that conclusively occurs with a finality of actions.

Yet, as Hume would point out, the fact that a “final straw” placed upon the camel’s back resulted in the next event following, does not establish a causation where that final straw was in fact the cause before the effect.  It merely shows us that X occurred prior to Y’s conclusion.  If a rooster awakens and makes his morning call and the sun rises upon the horizon, and thereafter an earthquake shakes the foundation of the planet, do we conclude that the rooster was the final straw, or that the rising of the sun “caused” the tectonic shifts beneath?

No – the idiom itself, of course, is not meant to be analyzed in that manner; rather, it is a “saying” that merely denotes that, upon a series of events, issues or actions, there comes a boiling point of finality where enough is enough.  But the evolution of societal norms does, indeed, allow for the straw to change over time.

Once upon a time, people “stuck it out” and remained married – if only to keep one’s vows, or for the “sake of the children”, or perhaps some other noble purpose.  Now, the “straw” that results in a divorce has changed – it can range from “failing to communicate” or even because one spouse has gotten bored of the other.  With that changing straw, people tend to tread lightly, given the low threshold of tolerance.  Law is somewhat like the changing straw – perhaps not the substance (although that can change through legislative action), but certainly the application.

For Federal or Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the issue to always be kept at the forefront is the changing straw throughout – what is the “straw” at work which will help make the decision?  What “last straw” is needed before the cumulative effects of the medical conditions persuade you to realize the need to file?  What “straw” of the law needs to be applied to persuade as to the viability of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application?

There are many “last straws” in life, and much of them change as time goes on; the law, however, remains fairly constant, except for the “last straw” of legal opinions that often alter the landscape of substance and applicability.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Lawyer Representation for OPM Disability Claims: Life can change in a day

A wise person once quipped that, If you don’t like the weather in this area, wait a day and it’ll come around.  The greater meaning of such a kernel of wisdom, of course, is that it is a microcosm of a wider reflection concerning life itself; wait long enough – sometimes a week, a month, a year, or a few years – and circumstance have a tendency to alter the course of one’s life and therefore one’s perspective.

Life can, indeed, change in a day; one day, you are happily drifting along, believing that nothing could be better; and the next, a calamity ensues, the human experience becomes a “topsy-turvy” matter and suddenly sours upon the smiling demeanor we carried just a moment before.

Or, one may begin the day in a negative and foul mood, but something changes, alters, moderates and impacts, and we come home despite the turmoil of work and daily problems with a smile on our face, and when asked “what is wrong?” (as opposed to, “What is right?”), we smile distantly and refer to the sunshine, the weather, the flower smelled on the road home, or that Frost-like metaphor of having taken the road less traveled on the way there.

Or, perhaps it is the simple recognition that there is more to life than one’s own narrow perspective, that suddenly creates the change in the day of one’s life.

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 positional duties as assigned, the idea that life can change in a day is as real as the sun rises and is expected to rise.

The process of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is a long, complex and bureaucratically difficult process, and often the process itself can be a defeating proposition as one awaits for a positive decision.  A denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management can have a devastating impact, and a second denial at the Reconsideration Stage can have a further deleterious effect.

With each decision, life can “change” in a day.

On the other hand, an approval effectuated from OPM can also have that same effect – of a change in one’s life, all in a day.  That is the ultimate goal – change, but in a “positive” sense; for, to remain static is to become an inert substance, and life, if anything, is a continuum of constant flux and change, like the weather that can never be correctly forecasted, and the life that can never be accurately predicted.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire