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 Employee Disability Retirement: Artemis for Our Age

Perhaps the most venerated of the Greek deities; but why?  As protector of young girls, the Greek mythological figure is always associated with the hunt, carrying with her a bow and arrow, accompanied by a loyal deer; is it chastity and fidelity that make her so attractive?  Do we have an Artemis for our Age — someone whom we can look up to, to feel the warmth of love and pure presence, if only to provide comfort in times of turmoil?

We give lip-service to terms like “community” and how it “takes a village” to bring up a child; of the importance of “family” and “family-values”; and yet….  When words are merely utterances without an action to follow, do they ring as hollow as the sound of an echo in a dark cave where no one can hear?  Is it because we have become so cynical in modernity that we cannot fathom an Artemis for our Age?  Does believability depend upon ignorance, and does ignorance result in the greater bliss where faith and happiness can coexists despite the dreary conditions of daily existence?  Did Greek Mythology develop because of a need for human beings to explain the anomalies of the universe, and was it science that destroyed the structure of such paradigms?

Without an Artemis for our Age, the promise of creativity in the innocence of childhoods yearning for something more than the reality of daily existence becomes a mere hope without even the scent of faith.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are seeking to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, the ugliness which develops in the very process of such seeking is often what destroys any faith in an institution.  Medical conditions, once revealed, tend to bring out the worst in agencies: Suddenly, “loyalty” is no longer a concept discoverable; “empathy” is a far cry from reality; and “accommodation” becomes a foreign concept even when there are laws to try and protect it.

The Artemis for our Age has simply become the use of laws as the weapon to wield; and when a Federal employee needs to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, legal representation is what forces the Agency and OPM to comply with the law, and that is about as close as we can get to in finding an Artemis for our Age.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability: Those Winds of Change That Portend to Pretend Promises

Change is an inevitable circumstance of life; it is what we seek when we are discontented; what we demand when threatened; and of which we fear, when least we expected it.  For Plato and Aristotle, the puzzle of life and the winds of change had precursors who, in the tradition of ancestral doomsayers, declared the natural corollaries reflecting discontent, despair and fear, as represented by Heraclitus and Parmenides.

Such change was first observed in the natural order of the universe, and worked slowly, deliberately, and sought a teleological understanding because of the mysteries inherent in the seasons, the heavens and the geocentric perspective defied by the reality of a heliocentric algorithm of calculations.  At some point in history, man was no longer satisfied with measuring with thumb and forefinger; and thus were pyramids built and Stonehenge created, to satisfy the yearnings of universal comprehension.

Changes did not just occur from the ashes of natural disasters; we invited them, manufactured them, and manipulated the vast conspiracy of quietude, lest we became comfortable in our own discordant behavior.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suddenly find that a long and productive career may come to an end because of an intervening medical condition, the winds of of change may seem uninviting, but the inevitability of life’s resistance to permanence requires taking affirmative steps in order to establish future security, such that change which portends alterations of present circumstances does not pretend to make promises falsely expected.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is an option to be taken when once a medical condition is recognized to last a minimum of 12 months (which can be accomplished through a medical “prognosis” as opposed to actually waiting for that period of time) and where the chronicity of the medical conditions prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional requirements of the job.

Medical conditions portend change; but the promises resulting from inevitable change need not be subverted by subterfuge and lack of knowledge; and like the harkening of soothsayers of yore, we should listen to wisdom in light of a hastened call to change, and distinguish between those winds of change that portend to pretend promises, from those which have an established record of success.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: The Misfit

The herd mentality must of necessity have a survivability factor; otherwise, there is little to explain the illogical repetition of the historical recurrence of human folly for behavioral anthropology.  In the modern era, being “different” is a sign of rebellion, and the cultural tidal wave of the Sixties in altering the normative landscape of music, art, religion and social customs, revealed the pinnacle of self-destructive behavior — until it became clear that being a misfit itself was merely the convention.

Behaving “normally” means that one does not make “waves”; in a highly bureaucratized society, the importance of non-innovation and complete compliance is regarded as sacrosanct.  Loud, boisterous behavior; conduct outside of the normative inflexibility of societal perspectives; that which is acceptable as quirkiness or eccentricities, as opposed to destructive explosions of tendencies bordering upon insanity; the invisible line between the misfit and clinical commitment to a psychiatric facility is a thin reed, indeed.

Often, however, it is uncontrollable circumstances which impose upon an individual the unwanted label of being an “outsider”.  Medical conditions often have a tendency to promote such a state.  It is like being labeled a plague-carrying contagion by the CDC; once whispered, the rumors begin to spread.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, being labeled a misfit becomes a “given”. Others begin to shy away from an association; some are told bluntly not to have contact with “that one”.

Loss of normative acceptance within any community or society is an important factor for success; somehow, despite all of the legal safeguards, EEO regulations and protective statutes applying to disabled individuals, the herd mentality of yore nevertheless prevails.  For Federal and Postal workers, the only pragmatic exit is to file 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.

Is it a retreat or an escape?  Not really; rather, just a means of looking out for one’s own best interests.  The medical condition itself should always be paramount in considering one’s life; attending to it properly means that one must have the time and energy to treat the underlying malady; and continuing in an employment atmosphere where acceptance is avoided, and empathy is rare, is also an unstated definition of engaging in self-flagellation.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Benefits: Dawn’s Transition

In the calm of morning darkness, when the stillness of winter whispers a hushed tone of quietude just before the first break of dawn, one’s perspective falls askew amidst the shadows and desolation of winter.  Is that a rock or a dead bird, frozen in the stillness of winter’s despair?  Was the movement behind the trees a reflection, or just the first faintness of dawn’s exposure?  Perspectives are funny glazes; a once familiar landscape can be frighteningly unfamiliar within the dark chasms of one’s own mind.

Then, almost imperceptibly, the light of dawn begins to pervade, and that which once appeared strange and foreboding, takes on the familiarity of known objects, recognizable forms, and identifiable shapes.  We live by light, and light is the friend of our fanciful imaginations gone awry by fear and loathing.

Medical conditions have a similar subtlety, much like the light of dawn:  they slowly creep upon one, until the debilitating impact is revealed when just a moment before, the fear of darkness was overwhelming.  But just as the morning glow of the rising sun will bring warmth and a promise of openness, so the hope underlying any conflict in life must be placed within a context of future castings.  Hope is for the future, as light is a diminishment of a present or past darkness.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition,  present circumstances are often like the overwhelming and foreboding sense of morning darkness before the dawn of the rising sun; it portends yet of a future unknown, and a fate yet to be decided.  That is why it is important to “let go” of those things of which one has no control, and concurrently, to affirmatively take steps towards the familiarity of that which is known.

Federal Disability Retirement benefits, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a “known” quantity.  Yes, it is a difficult administrative process and procedure to engage; yes, it is a bureaucratic morass of unquantifiable proportions; but it is a necessary step for those Federal or Postal employees who find themselves with a medical condition which begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from continuing in the positional slot of one’s Federal or Postal job.

As the allegory in Plato’s Republic tells the story of the enslaved shadows struggling in the darkness of the Cave, so the Federal or Postal employee who looks up at the opening beyond, to the light of dawn, must surely recognize that the fear and loathing felt in the shadows wavering in that moment before dawn’s glory, is but a temporary point in fate’s cradle, just before the brightness of one’s future is revealed in a time and place yet to be destined for the glory of summer.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire