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

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The historical data

How much historical data is too much?  Is there a correlation between “too much” and “loss of interest”? In other words, when a history book is written, does the interest shown by the reader begin to wane when a certain point of quantitative overload begins to overwhelm?  Further, does the audience for whom the historical data is written depend upon the extent given?

Certainly, “popular” historical narratives provide “juicier” content than more “serious” biographies, where the salacious aspects of a person’s life or of an event are put to the fore, as opposed to relegating them to footnotes or in those “fine print” pages at the back of the book.

If, for example, data is compiled for an internal study for the “Historical Society of X”, then certain detailed information without limitations might be included — i.e. how many times this or that civilization went to war, went to the bathroom daily, ate one kind of fruit as opposed to another, etc. But if that “study” were to be made into a biography of an indigenous tribe, to be sold to the general public, it might leave out certain of the more uninteresting data, or placed in footnotes or “background notes” at the back of the book.

At what point does a historical narrative become “tedious”?  Again, is there a correlation between “interest shown/sparked/waning/losing” and the extent of data provided?  Is there a “qualitative” difference as opposed to sheer quantitative overload?

These issues are important to keep in mind when a Federal or Postal employee begins to write one’s narrative in response to questions posed on SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability.  For, there is always a tendency on the part of the Federal or Postal applicant to have this unquenchable desire to “tell one’s story”, as opposed to answering the question on SF 3112A in as precise, concise and incisive manner.

At times, some amount of historical background may be relevant and somewhat necessary, but unlike “internal studies” that have no cognizable consequences in providing “too much” information, an overabundance of irrelevant data provided may have a duality of negative results: First, it may take away from, and diminish, the “main point” of the narrative, and Second, you may be providing information that is inadvertently harmful to one’s OPM Disability Retirement case without intending to.

Remember always in a Federal Disability Retirement case, that the eyes that once see cannot be blinded after the fact, and it is better to provide information as a supplemental means in a Federal Disability Retirement case, than to have to explain, correct and amend after a denial is received from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

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 OPM Disability Retirement: Hope for tomorrow

Tomorrow”, as a word written today, pointing to a dimension beyond; to a vantage and perspective not yet realized, and forever to be referenced by a future date yet unknown.  When read tomorrow, it leads to the next day; and when looked upon the next day, to the following day again; and in this eternal sequence of tomorrows, whether written today, tomorrow or the next day, it forever reminds us that hope lies not in the morass of today’s problems, but in the change of things yet to be realized.

Yes, yes — we all recognize the scoffing that often surrounded the political banner of that famous phrase, “hope and change” — but that is merely because the potency of words, concepts and formulated paradigms lose their efficacy once they are used within a public arena that turns into a campaign slogan. Hope is always for tomorrow; for, without tomorrow, hope remains fallow as the desert that once promised a fertile reserve but never realized the rivers that had dried up because of the changes of the subterranean shifts in tectonic quakes that others failed to predict.

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 hope for tomorrow will often include the preparation, formulation and filing of an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS and CSRS Offset.

Today is already filled with the overwhelming problems that beset any Federal or Postal employee with a medical condition; it is for tomorrow that an application for Federal Disability Retirement must be considered, and that is the ray of hope that includes tomorrow, and the day after, in preparing and formulating an effective Federal Disability Retirement application — today.

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

 

Attorney for Federal Disability Retirement Claims: King for a day

There are, then, those highs and lows which everyone experiences; of days when one has successfully maneuvered through the pitfalls of the day, and where troubles, problems and difficulties have been either overcome or avoided — both of which amounts to the same thing in most instances.  To be King for a Day — is it a mere feeling that obfuscates the reality of one’s situation, or a reality based upon a metaphor hanging on a cliff of a proverb?

The world for the most part leaves the rest of us the crumbs off of the tables of the wealthy and powerful; the sense that we have any real control over our own destinies is tested when something goes wrong, and we try and correct it.  The rest of the time — of being King for a Day — is to just make us feel like we have any such control on any given day.

Take the Federal or Postal employee who struggles with 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 — some days, when the medical condition subsides or it is merely one of those “good” days, it may feel that destiny is within the palm of your hand and that the day’s brightness allows for a future with the Federal Agency or the Postal Service.

But then the inevitable “setback” occurs, and the cycle of the “bad day” comes along.  Then, one day the Federal Agency, with its co-conspirators of supervisors, managers and some coworkers, or the Postal Service with the same cabal of backstabbers, begins to initiate adverse actions with steady and incremental deliberation — of leave restrictions; unreasonable and baseless denials for extended leave or FMLA; letters of “warnings” and even placement on a PIP; and then one asks, Whatever happened to that feeling of being King for a Day?

Life is full of struggles and difficulties; we rarely are able to get a full handle on the future course of unanticipated troubles, and that is why preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is so important to get started early and well on the right track.

Being King for a Day is never the solution to the lengthy process of life’s misgivings; for, in the end, it is the Court Jester who hears all and counsels well, just like the lawyer who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.  If only King Lear had listened to the Fool — what disasters he would have avoided!

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

 

Disability Retirement from OPM: All problems suspended

We all seek those moments, don’t we?  A period of respite, that time of suspended ecstasy where all of life’s problems are suspended, if only for a temporary span in order to regain our equilibrium, retake the focus lost and remake the moments wasted.  Isn’t that why people become obsessed with silly arguments on the Internet, in Facebook confrontations and twitter feeds, because it provides for a temporary assertion of power, the sense of winning, of defeating and devastating another, if only for a brief moment in this timeless continuum of problems to be encountered, embraced and finally solved?

In a perfect universe, all problems suspended would be tantamount to a conceived heaven where one need not worry about the daily problems of living a life – the human condition – that confronts everyone all the world over.

All problems suspended – every financial difficulty, relational complexities, consequences intended or otherwise resulting from neglect, negligence or simply thoughtless actions; for all and every one of them to be relegated to a heavenly sequestration like purgatory without judgment.  But that life could be discovered within such a state of joyous reprieve; we would all be dancing and praying to the gods that gave us such a present.

In reality, that is what going to the movies for a couple of hours of distraction, playing a video game, going out with friends, or spending a weekend reading and taking the dogs out for a long walk – these are activities engaged in where all problems become suspended, if only for a brief stint of relief from the daily struggles we all have to confront and “deal” with.

Unfortunately, there is one problem that can almost never be suspended – a medical condition.  The medical condition pervades and remains no matter how hard we try; and though we may be successful in “forgetting” for a brief moment, the problem is never suspended, only delayed in “remembering”.  For people who are in chronic pain, one cannot even forget for a brief moment.  Instead, whether actively in thought or lulled through a sleepless night, the medical condition is always there, never suspended.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition presents an even greater set of problems – of not being able to be accommodated and beginning to prevent the performance of one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job duties – it is time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Delaying does not suspend the problem, but may only add to it; neglecting will not solve the problem, and may only magnify it; and while temporarily “forgetting” by engaging in another activity may distract from it, the brief nature of such thoughtlessness will only roar back with a greater sense of urgency, especially when dealing with the bureaucratic morass of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which is the agency that makes a determination on all Federal Disability Retirement applications.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire