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

 

Medical Retirement under FERS: When something is determined

How do we know that a person is “good”?  Or articulate?  Or of a criminal bent?  When do we say, “Oh, the movie is too boring,” and then proceed to turn it off and go and do something else?  Or, at what point does a person determine that a book is worthwhile?

Is there a “set” point, or does it just depend upon different tolerance levels for each individual, such that some people will stubbornly refuse to give upon on X, whereas others with less patience will easily abandon any sense of loyalty or dependence?  As to the latter — of “dependence” — is there a point of unhealthy attachment even when everyone else has given up the proverbial ship?  To that end — when does “loyalty” begin to smell of foolhardy obedience to signs others would otherwise deem as self-destructive?

At what point does a person consider the ratio between toleration of a boring book or movie in comparison to the potentiality for a better ending, and continue on the trek of boredom in hopes of realizing a greater and more exciting future?  Are there character-traits by which we can determine a “healthy” sense of determination as opposed to a weak-willed willingness to be trampled upon or waste one’s time and energy?

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 job, the “when” of determining — as in, “When is it time to file for Federal Disability Retirement?” — is something that must be gauged according to the uniqueness of each individual circumstance.

Certainly, when the Agency begins to initiate adverse actions; certainly, when a doctor recommends such a course of action; and, certainly, when it becomes apparent that the Federal or Postal employee can no longer perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

When something is determined — it is an important analytical judgment that must be decided in light of the fact that preparing, formulating and filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits is a long and complex administrative, bureaucratic process, and consultation with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law is a first step in determining that which is important to determine when something needs to be determined about.

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

 

OPM Medical Retirement: The Categorical Imperative

It is, of course, the foundation of Kant’s moral philosophy; of the unconditional call to act in a certain way, accepted and mandated precisely because there is no room for question.  But that life were so easy; automatons would simply act in mechanistic ways, driven by moral certitude; free will could be determined by the comforting thought that universal codes of conduct shall always confine and direct.  And bureaucracies would always make decisions within a framework of computational algorithms.

But Federal Disability Retirement is not a matter of a diagnosis; unlike Social Security Disability, which does contain a semblance of categorical imperatives when it comes to certain medical conditions, the preponderance of the proof needed in becoming eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is threefold: First, the minimum number of years under FERS (18 months of creditable Federal Service) or CSRS (5 years, which is presumably already met by everyone in that retirement system); Second, a medical condition which came into existence during the time of Federal Service (with some arguable exceptions within one (1) year of being separated from Federal Service); and Third, a nexus of relevant impact between one’s medical condition and the essential elements of one’s positional duties one performs for the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service.

It is this third step in the process which effectively compels one to step outside of the identification of Federal Disability Retirement laws as containing an element of the categorical imperative; for, in the end, it is not simply an evaluation of “which category” one falls into, but rather, how significant and persuasive is the bridge built upon between the two primary land masses:  one’s medical condition (land mass #1) and the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job (land mass #2).

That metaphorical “bridge” must be constructed with care, clarity, and concrete argumentation of persuasive force in order to withstand the inspecting scrutiny of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Look upon it as if OPM is walking through the construction site with a hard hat, pen in hand and taking notes furiously in attempting to discover deficiencies in the qualification standards imposed.  Jumping up and down and screaming at the inspector that the bridge fits into a pre-defined category will not suffice; instead, the categorical imperative must be argued for by pointing to the medical evidence, the law, and the connective tissues which form the effective and persuasive confluence of all of the elements which comprise the ultimate imperative of life:  that of a methodology of argumentation that one is “right”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Facts and Explanations

There is often a widespread misconception that “facts” need no elucidation or explanation, and somehow speak for themselves.  There are, indeed, times when self-imposed limitation of apparent eloquence and bombastic, grandiloquent and pretentious verbosity is of use; for, scarcity of adjectives and brevity of prose can leave the plains and tundra of a descriptive narrative’s call for less inhabitants, and not more, to reveal the beauty of the linguistic landscape; but even in such instances, facts still require explanation.

Facts without explanation constitute mere artifacts floating in a vacuum of a historical void.  It is thus the prefatory context provided by explanatory delineation, or the sentence next which elucidates the relevance and significance of an event before. Without the explanation, facts merely remain an artifice with a lack of architectural integrity, lost in the quagmire of historicity without dates, times or epochs of reference.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the misunderstanding between the conceptual bifurcation of “facts” and “explanations” is often exponentially magnified to the detriment of the Federal Disability Retirement applicant when one presumes that “medical facts” speak for themselves.

Thus does the Federal or Postal worker who is preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application simply bundle up a voluminous file of medical records and declare, “See!”  But such declarative intonations accompanying files of “facts” do not explain in meeting the legal criteria to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement.  An explanation is in response to the query by a governmental agency and bureaucracy which requires that justification through explanation will meet the preponderance of the evidence test in being eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Yes, there are some “facts” which may not require explanation — such as the beauty of a morning dawn pink with a quietude of poetry, where words fail to embrace the peaceful mood within the serenity of nature; but such facts do not reflect the chaos of the paperwork being received by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and very few there care about the pink dawn of nature, but want an explanation as to why the Federal or Postal employee is entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire