Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Something happened

Beyond a mundane declaration of befuddlement, it is also the title of a novel by Joseph Heller — his second novel published some 13 years after the successful first one that most people remember him by:  Catch-22.

It lacks the surrealism of the first novel; the absurdity of tragic events unfolding distinguishable from the logical and sequential manner in which we see the world, turned upside down by images of madness countering the reality of the insanity around.  The genre of the absurd — depicted in such movies as “Life is Beautiful” and in works such as Catch-22 — attempts to unveil the underlying insanity beneath the veneer of a world acting as if normalcy abounds.

Other movies that attempt to portray the absurd might include Sophie’s Choice, where the main character (played by Meryl Streep) keeps going back to the comfort of her insane boyfriend because that is the more comfortable reality she knows, having survived the insanity of the Nazi death camps.

But long before the genre of the absurd came to the fore, there was the brilliant short story by Cynthia Ozick entitled, The Shawl, which has been noted for bringing out the horrors of the holocaust through a medium — the short story — that captures the essence of absurdity and the surreal in a mere few dozen pages.  The story is a small bundle that reverberates so powerfully that it overshadows any subsequent attempts at depicting life’s absurdity.

Catch-22 elevated the absurd to a consciousness that brought further self-awareness of the unreality of the real — the Vietnam War — and tried to unravel the insanity amidst a world that tried to explain the event as something logical and sane.

Something Happened —  a book about a character who engages in a rambling stream of consciousness about his childhood, job and family — is perhaps more emblematic about the life most of us live:  seemingly logical, yet interspersed with events, reminiscences and memories that are faulty at best, and far from perfect.  The title itself shows a greater awareness of our befuddlement — of not knowing “what” happened, only that it did, and the inability to control the events that impact our lives.

Medical conditions tend to be of that nature — of an event that we have no control over, and yet, we are aware of its “happening”.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have come to realize that something happened — a medical condition; a chronic illness that simply will not go away; a traumatic event that has had residual consequences which are continuing to impact; whatever the “something”, the “happened” part still resides.

Such recognition of the “something” will often necessitate the further recognition that it is now time to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in order to secure a future that is presently uncertain.

Consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in getting Federal and Postal employees Federal Disability Retirement benefits, and take the necessary steps to ensure that the “something” that “happened” is not one more tragedy in this tragic-comic stream of consciousness we call “life”.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: And then we are gone…

The trailing ellipsis establishes a pause for reflection, and the finality of three periods for an emphasis upon the irreversible nature of the statement.  “And then” connotes that something preceded – a lifetime of activities, a century or less of human historicity involving birth, growth, work, struggles, etc. – existed before the conclusion of the life.

The “we are” slice of the sentence implies two additional variables: the universality of involvement – an event that excludes no one – and the present tense of that which is inevitable.  And what about the final word before the ellipsis?  The eternal nothingness; the inescapable conclusion to every novel, every short story, every figure of historical significance or otherwise; we all die.

We somehow try and escape or avoid that fate.  Heidegger’s observation that the whole of human activity is merely a project of distraction and avoidance – that we perform this busy-ness and that all-consuming work or hobby, not because it is inevitable, important, relevant or even interesting, but because to do nothing would be to face the reality of our own demise daily.

Perhaps that is somewhat of an overstatement.  And yet… In the end, plastic surgery, herbal teas and strenuous exercise may only prolong the terminal exit ramp for a fortnight or even a calendric cycle or two, but it is the “in-between” times that make all the difference in a person’s life.  And what of quality?  Does quantification by pure duration determine the worthiness of that “in-between” period, or is it better to have lived a short but “full” life, before the finality of nothingness comes upon one?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are suffering from a medical condition, such that the medical condition is making that preceding period before the universalization of finality becoming a reality “less than worthwhile”, the time may have approached, and perhaps even passed, that preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application has become not merely a necessity but a crisis of mandate.

Sometimes, in life, the choices are limited and the options presented somewhat less than the best of life’s offerings; yet, to live out that duration of what is future-oriented by enduring pain, suffering and illness in an atmosphere of hostility and adversarial contrariness for the remainder of the days yet to come, often become unbearable and unthinkable.

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, is often the only solution to a problem unsolvable. It is that moment before the part that goes, “And then…”, where the ellipsis has not yet reached the “we are” portion, and thus a crucial section of a life still to be lived.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Loyalties unrequited

Like the letter expressing undying love, returned without a forwarding address and stamped with a vengeance with ink smudges unable to erase.  Of course, such imagery is likely to be a puzzle and an unknown quantity for most, as no one writes letters, anymore.  What would be its modern equivalent?  An email returned, a text message ignored, or a Facebook request blocked?

Loyalties, on the other hand, are a funny thing; if left unspoken and implicitly assumed, each party to the “agreement” of loyalty can walk about with differing perspectives and alternative understandings.  The one with authority may well see it as a tacit, unilateral bondage; all others assume (most often wrongly) as being a bilateral vehicle for mutual benefit.  For many, such presumptuous loyalties never reach a pinnacle of an actual test; for, the test is in the crisis created, when that which is implicit must be expressed in terms loudly declarative to all.

Then, of course, the sad truth is that linguistic elasticity (i.e., in modern parlance, “alternative facts”, “hyperbolic truth”, or in archaic language, “lies”, “falsehoods” and “deceptions”) has resulted in the devastation of language, truth and reliance upon certainty of constrained declarations.

Language once reached a pinnacle of communicative practicality, perhaps redacted in the British command of subtlety and decorum, reflecting the sophistication of Shakespeare, Milton, Waugh and Hitchens, and even coopted by that New England appearance of relative kinship as characterized by Buckley, Vidal, etc.  Now, in modernity, language has become a free-for-all, where volume dominates substance and we can all maintain a straight face even when encountering a logical inconsistency, a methodological fallacy, or an outright lie.

This is a strange universe, a convoluted time and a conundrum of an age gone mad – especially when it comes to the communicative tool of language, and the underlying meaning of what is said, what is expected, and what can be stated with any meaningfulness at all.

Loyalty requires language – whether implicit or explicit – which consolidates trust, accord and like-mindedness.  The test of the viability of such an agreement can quickly become abrogated when life, reality and events intervene.  There is thus, often, a “crisis” which arises, which tests the veracity of that which may have been unjustly relied upon.  As in the heat of battle, whether one’s “own” will do as commanded, follow to the end and sacrifice for that tacit agreement, one will never know until put to the test.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who mistakenly believe that loyalty between the Federal agency and the Postal facility is a bilateral condition precedent – of work for these many years, and dedication beyond the agreed-upon hours of compensation, in return for commitment and caring when times become tough – the loyalty unrequited becomes a reality too quickly realized.

Letting the Federal agency know, or giving the U.S. Postal Service a “heads up”, of a mere intent to prepare, formulate and file a Federal Disability Retirement application, can readily result in unwelcomed reactions and initiation of administrative movements previously unexpected.

Family relationships often become frayed because of intimacy of care; friendships can fluctuate as the howling winds of clashes between warm and cold fronts; and loyalties can be mistaken as to whether it is unilateral or bilateral, and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application can echo the hollow reverberations of loyalties unrequited, and we often walk away astonished at our own naïve beliefs, now dashed and damaged into the hallways of life’s cynicism learned.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: The hospital bed

It is a lonely and demoralizing state of affairs; they poke, prod and insist upon ruling out every sector of one’s body as the culprit of diagnosed maladies.  The hospital bed is a barbaric contraption next to a mediaeval torture chamber, and one can only imagine what such inventions were like in those olden days, when antiseptic means meant the possibility of washing one’s hands every now and again, and where pain and death were part of everyday living.

It reminds us, above all, of our own vulnerability and mortality; and what a blessing health and life are.

Oh, it is true – we take such issues for granted, and barely get beyond the tripe and inane statements like, “Oh, health is such a blessing,” or, “We are so thankful for our health.”  It is when one is in the hospital, alone in a bed, in the darkness of those twilight hours, that the reality of one’s own Being is revealed:  the projects we cling to; the significance we place upon the work we perform; and the extra credit we think we deserve when we work late into the wee hours.

We have heard all of those wise remarks, either in novels, essays or even movies:  On your epitaph, you do not get a special mention for ignoring your health.  Work is great, but that needs to be placed in its proper perspective.  The projects we engage and embrace – is it, as Heidegger reminds us, merely a means to avoid the inevitable outcome of our fate?  Do the gods laugh from above, pointing to our mortality and the fruitless attempts we cling to in order to avoid facing our future?

It is, in the end, the hospital bed that reminds us starkly of who we are, where we are heading, and what this all will mean.

Retirement is not meant to be a time to spend in a hospital bed; Disability Retirement is not meant to be filed at a point when a Federal or Postal employee is so debilitated that once it is approved by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, that one merely “retires” to a hospital bed.  It is, instead, a system whereby a person is recognized to no longer be able to perform some of the essential elements of one’s job, but that there is an implicit understanding that there can be a time in the future where productivity can be applied to a different vocation or another career.

Yes, there are jokes that abound – of Federal Disability Retirement annuitants being Walmart Greeters or engaged in other similarly menial and lesser jobs, but those are not the only stories to tell.  There are many Federal annuitants who have found private sector jobs where the pay scale comes perilously close to the 80% limit – and, while that can be a problem, isn’t that a “good” problem to have?

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits does not require the “higher” standard of being debilitated or “totally disabled”; rather, it is a standard which recognizes that there is an inconsistency between the position one occupies, and the medical conditions from which one suffers.  If consideration in filing is arrived at in a hospital bed, it is still not too late; but a reminder it is, and the next steps are to begin the long and complicated process of preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Wisdom’s hold on life

We never quite “get it”.  Trans-generational imputing of wisdom is not part of modern society.  In more “traditional” societies, multi-generational families live together out of practical reasons:  Not only is it less expensive if the earnings are pooled into a single resource of means, but until marriage or an offer of economic leverage pulls a member away from the core, imparting of wisdom, experience and voices of learned care may be passed down from generation to generation.  In the West, instead, the rush is to depart and fracture; to get away as quickly as possible; for, as youth is the cult of modernity, so folly of youth is the means by which we live.

That was the point of alternative interactions, as well – of apprenticeships, internships and other similar ships moored to more experienced hands; but even those are now relics of an age no longer relevant.  And of age – old men with decades of experience in handling matters of great complexity, shuttled away into homes smelling of antiseptic camouflaging of decay and devoid of respect or gratitude; women who once gained a stature of serene contentment, now deluged in a cauldron of impoverishment and relegated to the insignificance of lost memories.  Where is wisdom’s hold upon life?

There is, in the end, no means for generational transfer of wisdom, and the wheel must be reinvented at every turn, by an ignorant and inexperienced first generation where “first” is always reenacted and “generation” is merely something to submit to have a family tree drawn in order to boast of one’s genetic predisposition towards folly and foolishness.  Yet, we have come to believe that wisdom can be equated to information, and so we hand out Smartphones so that we can mindlessly look up data, soft news and questionable sources where references cannot be verified, plagiarism may be rampant, and esoteric knowledge has been forever generalized to a point of neutrality of purpose.

Where do we get wisdom?  From advice columns, gurus of booksellers hinting of “secret” formulas and self-serving wanna-bees of Dear Abby.  Once, wisdom’s hold on life resulted in an evolution of greater growth, as generational transfer allowed for each within the greater whole to advance beyond the elementary foundations of first principles.  Now, we are solitary, isolated and disconnected.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, wisdom’s latent hold on life should not make one pause, but rather, as the dissemination of knowledge, information and guidance can be accessed through an experienced lawyer who has faced OPM many times, life need not be anticipated, but advanced beyond the folly of youth where wisdom’s hold on life is but a moment devoid of influence.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire