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

 

Federal Disability Retirement Representation: The pecking order

Watching birds fly and cavort around a bird-feeder, one realizes that the term as applied to human conduct is not too far from the reality of the natural order of things.  There is, indeed, a “pecking order” in the world of birds and fowls aflight; it has to do with size, aggression, quickness and desire to survive. In other words, how birds behave is not too far afield from the way in which humans interact.

As children being thrown together in various institutions called “public schools”, we all recognize the concept of “the pecking order” – the sequence of priorities, of who dominates, which cliques attain a level of status and recognition, what is allowed and not, where one is invited to enter before or after others; it is the purest form of Darwinian natural selection, no matter what societal and cosmetic impediments and safeguards are put in place in order to engage in social engineering of one sort or another.

People think that this pecking order ends upon graduating from public school; that, somehow, release from high school ends this natural order of survival only for the fittest.  Yet, such pecking orders continue throughout – college; the military; the workplace; families.  They all require a pecking order of one kind or another, precisely because it is “natural” and the selection process is innately driven.

In the fowl world – both as “foul” and “fowl” – birds get to feed from the best and choicest sources based upon size, aggressiveness, and bravado displayed in standing one’s ground.  It is often the same with the human world of foul interactions, despite our claim to having become “civilized” and sophisticated, beyond reproach, somehow now asserting our independence and detachment from the genetically determined patterns of behavior.

More and more, however, it becomes clear that we are never exempted from the essence of our natures.  Aristotle may have asserted the grand stature of man with his rationality and capacity to cogitate, but the reality is that the ancient Greek civilization would soon become overpowered and dominated by the most basest of human instincts – of conquering by might and strength.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to manifest, to reveal, to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, it becomes clear that the old “pecking order” approach again will dominate.

Federal agencies and the Postal Service will assert its cold dominance and indifference to the weak of this world, and weakness is never shown with greater vulnerability than when one must admit that he or she suffers from a medical condition.  Just as the fowls begin to take advantage of shown weaknesses in the pecking order of Darwinian natural, so Federal Agencies and U.S. Postal facilities show no remorse in treating their workers who show weakness with cruelty and aggressive lack of empathy.

Filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is an aggressive step to “fight back” against the rise of the pecking order that is, unfortunately, an inevitable consequences of who we are and continue to be.

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

 

OPM Disability: Demythologization of the Process

Beyond being an ugly word, Spinoza attempted it, but closer to the heart of a flawed hermeneutical approach, the theologian, Rudolf Bultmann spent his career attempting to separate the conceptually inseparable narratives encapsulating historical content, context and the meaning behind miracles and metaphor.

All processes are mysterious, until detachedly analyzed, devalued or debunked.  Some merely throw up their hands and reject a subject in its entirety; others spend a lifetime in trying to understand it, and thus do cottage industries emerge.  The peril of pursuing a discipline of futility is that, in the end, the process of one’s own actions may be just as inexorably a conundrum as that which one attempts to unravel; read a single, random paragraph from Heidegger, and one immediately understands such a declaration of frustration.

Often, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, the prefatory statements of confusion abound:  ” I’ve heard that…”; “OPM always …”; “Is it even worth it to…”  But there is indeed a practical difference between the bureaucracy itself, and the bureaucratic process; the former is merely a juggernaut of an agency which is impenetrable because of the nature of the Federal system; the latter is an administrative process replete with multiple layers of statutory and regulatory devices which are complex in their compendium of requirements.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits by the lay person, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a complex, puzzling and often overwhelming process.  It can be likened to handing a complex transactional law case involving multiple Fortune 500 companies attempting to merge for purposes of avoiding specific legal entanglements to a first-year associate; mistakes are bound to be made, as one fails to recognize the inherent complexities or the need to draft preventative safeguards.

Further, when a medical condition already weakens the physical stamina of the Federal or Postal employee, and tests the limits of one’s cognitive acuity, the ability and capacity to engage a large and complex bureaucracy can be, at best, a challenge.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is analogous to the hermeneutical approach of attempt to demythologize a sacrosanct text of unyielding historical import; the difference from theology, however, is in the pragmatic need and practical residual consequences foretelling; and as they say in the fine-print warning of some advertisements, you should probably not try this on your own.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: The Hug That Wasn’t

Regrets are priceless; they lack both a marketplace value, as well as a worth beyond applicability of accounting principles.  The conceptual void of negation; the paradox of non-existence and nothingness; the chasm of obsolescence and absence where once perceptual conformity allowed for the revelation of a thing; these are all within the imaginative mind of the human puzzle.

What possible evolutionary utility can be ascribed to things that did not happen, could have, but never did, and where the pit of void in one’s stomach leaves a dissatisfying wanting of that which could have been?  In the quietude of a sleepless night, when images of past concerns invade and prevent that final lull into a dreamworld of peaceful intent, those thoughts of missed opportunities, bumps in the night of moments forgotten by interludes of dusty memories once enlivened but now deadened with time and fading photographs darkened by degeneration of remembrances once clung to; in a twinkle of twilight, a sense of regret can pervade.

It has often been said that, on the eve of one’s deathbed, one never remembers the time of work unfulfilled; rather, we recount the time lost of things we did not do because we were too busy with work.  Regret does not cull the graveyards of memories lost about parallel universes involving work left undone at the office; instead, it reaches into the bottomless chasm of simple recollections, like the hug that never was.

Medical conditions often serve as a reminder of important priorities, and tend to impose the sequence of one’s lives, reordering them into a listing of priceless artifacts, like uncut diamonds lost in the sands of time.  Suddenly, one’s mortality is in question, and more than getting meaningless tasks done, the vitality of relationships come to the fore.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suddenly recognize that a medical condition is beginning to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, the sense of regret often accompanies the realization, but is also and just as often a misplaced case of loyalty.  Why should fealty be sworn to an agency which is impervious to human suffering?  How can a guilty conscience pervade when the Federal or Postal employee has already given beyond what is required, for years and decades already lost?

Federal Disability Retirement is a benefit open to Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition impedes continuation with an agency or the U.S. Postal Service based upon a legal criteria of proof of preponderance of the evidence.  Guilt and regret should never be a part of the process.  Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is an employment right, accorded by statute, and should be done once the Federal or Postal employee recognizes that one cannot perform at least one or more of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.  Whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is a benefit tapped into only through proof by evidentiary sufficiency.

And like the hug that wasn’t, the failure to file for Federal Disability Retirement is tantamount to the negation of rationality when continuation in circumstances of employment only exacerbates the pain, prolongs the suffering, and extends the nightmare; leaving to wonder the capacity of the human animal, the quietude of regrets and the forlorn despair of the empty space left, when once we tried to embrace a loved one, but instead spent that time serving a master who had long since gone home to his family.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire