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

 

FERS Disability Retirement from the OPM: The last line of a poem

How important is the last line of a poem?  Can there be a poem that disappoints because of the last line, or can the finality that ends with a period (or not, depending upon the structure followed) be a so-so metaphor that evokes a yawn and a grimace?

If the rest of the poem, stanza after stanza, contains images by mysterious metaphors which provoke the mind’s imagination to heights previously untouched, but then finishes with a final line that makes one puzzled and doubting, do we say of it, “Well, it was a great poem up until that very last line”?  What if the poet meant it to be so — that the intent of the poem itself was to contrast the fickle manner in which images can form into pinnacles of fancy, only to be disappointed by a singular phrase of mundane commonness?

If the generally-accepted definition of poetry, as opposed to prose, is the focus upon the unit of a sentence aghast with metaphorical flourishes which evoke and provoke images, scents and cacophony of voices haunting throughout the hallways of a mind’s eye, then each line must of greater necessity remain reliably un-pedestrian.  Yet — why is it that the last line of a poem remains so important?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition necessitates preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, the last line of a poem can be likened to the final touches of an effective Federal Disability Retirement packet.

Does it have an extensive legal memorandum accompanying it — to make the persuasive push for an approval?  Have the sentences making up the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A) been made to evoke and provoke images of an inevitable approval?

It is, after all, not poetry but prose; yet, just like the last line of a poem, a Federal Disability Retirement application should be formulated with thoughtfulness and care, lest the last line of the poem provoke a denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

FERS Medical Retirement from the OPM: That cup of tea

It is the symbol of a quieter life; of a pastoral time of past remembrances, where the slower pace accorded a tranquility now lost forever.  It is referred to in many of William Trevor’s short stories — of that time in England when people still sat around and had “that cup of tea”.  For, somehow, the notion of fine china, the curling wisps of winding steam and the aroma of warmth and comfort retain a resonance of civility, quietude and the sentiment of calmer times.

Coffee, on the other hand, betrays a greater americanism — of forging ahead, forever seeking progress and movement, a person on steroids who cannot take the time, will not, and in fact has no time for the silliness of having that cup of tea.  That is why coffee is taken on the road, in plastic or styrofoam cups; in mugs and sturdy, thick jugs; whether plain, with a bit of milk and with or without sugar.

The two represent different times; of lifestyles gone and replaced; of civility and crudity.  Starbucks and others have tried to gentrify the cup of coffee, of course, and to create different “Internet cafes” with sophisticated-sounding names for lattes, “XY-Americano” or some similar silly-sounding names; but in the end it is the bit of coffee painted with a lipstick on the pig, and it remains the shot of coffee that provides the taste.

People are like that; and we all reminisce about times past, of “good old days” and for some, we miss that cup of tea.  For the greater society, the two contrasting flavors of a drink represent a bifurcation of sorts: One, for a kind of life we long for; the other, the reality within which we find ourselves.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the distinction between the cup of tea and the mug of coffee is like a metaphor of one’s own circumstances: the body and mind requires that cup of tea; the reality that swirls around demands the mug of coffee.

Preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is perhaps the antidote to the growing problem.  While it may not be every person’s cup of tea, it is something that — given the environment of the Federal Agency and the Postal Service in requiring every worker to act like a caffein-induced maniac — may medically indicate a change from the coffee-centered culture that cannot sit even for a brief moment to enjoy that distant reverberation of fine china clinking amidst the calm of a quiet morning.

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 Government Employees: Authentication

There is a process and means by which it is accomplished — as in authenticating a painting or an antique piece of furniture, jewelry, etc.; of an autograph or handwritten letter (although, many will say that in the field of forensic sciences, handwritten analysis is far from reaching a vaunted level of precision or reliability); of a pet’s pedigree or even of a person’s right to have access to sensitive information, etc.

Authentication is thus a process of verification, of identifying X as being Not-Y in many instances, where exclusion by elimination of other possibilities results in the declaration of the genuineness of the person or thing declared to be so.

When applied to an object, it inspects and compares against other objects within a historical context, style, peculiar features of an artisan’s eccentricities, period-characteristics and signature features, etc.  When applied to an individual, it may take into account physical features as well (appearance; finger prints; voice matching; DNA sample, etc.), but could also encompass questions posed and answers given, and depending upon the comparison to known archives of historical background checks made against statements previously provided, deem that an “authentication” has been reached concerning the “true” identity of an individual, akin to declaring that a painting previously unverified is in fact a product of this or that “Master”, or that an antique furniture piece was the craftsmanship of some famous cabinetmaker during the Jeffersonian Renaissance period or from some pop-culture minimalist timeframe during the early Sixties, etc.

The process of “authentication”, of course, can be distinguished from whether or not an individual is living an “authentic life”, as well, and here, the meanings become somewhat muddled and divided.  One can be “authenticated” and be allowed access to sensitive banking information, be allowed to use a credit card, write a check, etc., and still live an inauthentic life (e.g., act like someone you are not, present yourself as a “family man” despite all the while committing multiple affairs; live a double or triple or even a quadruple life and deceive everyone around, etc.).

The process in reaching a conclusion as to whether a person is living an authentic or inauthentic life is somewhat different from “authenticating” a person.  For, to engage in the former analysis, it is normally done for the most part as a self-analysis (i.e., only the person who is living an inauthentic life can know for certain whether it is so or not), whereas the methodology imposed of “authenticating” a period-piece or an individual (the latter) is by applying a more objective standard of comparative review.

For the Federal or Postal employee who is suffering from a medical condition, where the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the dual issues of “authentication” and “authentic living” come to the fore, precisely because the Federal or Postal employee becomes forced into behaving in rather inauthentic ways.

Hiding the medical condition; trying desperately to work through the debilitating symptoms and maintaining an appearance of normalcy; and all the while trying to force a consistency between one’s capacity and the watchful eyes of the Federal Agency or the Postal Service — these are the elements that challenge the authenticity of one’s life.

Living an authentic life under normal circumstances is difficult enough; trying to authenticate one’s capacity to continue “as is” in the face of a progressively deteriorating medical condition makes it all the more challenging.  It may be that preparing, formulating and filing 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, is the only way forward in forging an authentic pathway away from an inauthentic morass that the medical condition has forced upon you.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Information: Accuracy

How important is accuracy?  The converse of such a query, of course, is:  Is inaccuracy significant?  One would immediately posit:  It all depends.

Take the following 2 hypotheticals:  An archeological dig is conducted, and it is believed that the site of the ruins is of relevant importance concerning a time-period of “recent” history — say, during the American Revolution.  Given that scenario, the “dating” of the site should be ascertainable within a year succeeding or preceding, such that if the Lead Archaeologist declares that the event in question occurred in 1778, “or possibly in 1779, maybe as early as 1777”, we know that — given the time period in question (1775 – 1783) — such a statement conveys a fairly accurate historical context.

Now, take the same hypothetical, but this time [sic] concerning some form [again, sic] of a fossil that is deemed at least 500 million years old.  If the Lead Archaeologist declares with some hint of irony, “Give or take a few million years more or less” — what would our reaction be?  Is such a “find” just as accurate as in the first hypothetical?  Can a declaration that is numerically off by a few million years (i.e., looking at it in quantifiable terms of 24 hours in a day times 365 days in a year times 2 – 5 million years equals how many hours for those who want a graspable perspective) be called a “science” in any meaningful usage of the term?

Of course, one could argue that even within the first hypothetical, given the limited range of years that comprises the American Revolution (1775 – 1783, or a mere 8 years), to be off by a year or so is also quite an astoundingly inaccurate assessment.  But which is “more accurate” — the one that is estimated within a year, or the one that quantifies it in terms of “millions” of years?  Can one even ask the question of “more or less” accurate, when the very concept of accuracy itself denotes precision and pinpointed, undeviated marksmanship?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question of “accuracy” can be a crucial one.  How “accurate” does one’s Statement of Disability need to be on Standard Form 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability?  What “precisely” does the treating doctor have to include in the medical report?  How detailed (and therefore, accurately) does the nexus between the medical documentation and the Applicant’s Statement of Disability does it have to reflect?

In all such questions, “accuracy” is a goal to attain in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

For, while the Archaeologist may be “off” by a quantifiable sum of years in a site-dig and suffer little to no consequences, the Federal Disability Retirement applicant must depend upon the accuracy of the law in determining benefits to secure a future yet uncertain, and such an administrative endeavor is likened more to the accuracy of the arrow that is shot towards an apple resting upon the head of a young boy, than of a declaration made that is off by a few million years, give or take, more or less.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire