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

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Loneliness in a Crowd

Do we all share that experience?  Or, do some never sense the isolation felt, the separation determined, the detachment embraced; but instead, always the smiling center where the crowd is but an extension of one’s body and soul?

A crowd, of course, can be an organic mass of an aggregate whole that, because it is a herd of humanity, can never embrace the individual; and as the individual stands within the continuum of others similarly situated, so the uniqueness of each is lost within the greater whole.

Human emotions, however, are possessed by the independent “I” of each person, and the insularity of those emotions within the inner soul of each body conceals itself except when expressed through words, deeds and facial or other characteristics that betray the anonymity of the crowd.  A teardrop here, a smile over there; a forlorn look of regret by a furrowed eyebrow or the curling frown around lips that purse; and words, of course, that are expressed.

Does tone matter?  Can a person express an emotion in an emotionless manner, and still be sincere in the very expression of that emotion?  Similarly, can a person stand within the mass of a crowd and yet declare loneliness, and be believed?  And of how we treat one another as human beings — or as mere objects that respond without regard to the validity of the subjective “I”.

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 sense of loneliness in a crowd is palpable precisely because, although still with the Federal Agency or the Postal unit, one is treated as an outsider, a person separate and apart and no longer “one of us”; and when that sense of loneliness in a crowd triggers hostility and adversity, it becomes apparent and self-evident that separation must follow — by preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Otherwise, the loneliness in a crowd may ultimately lead to detachment from the crowd, involuntarily, by a termination of one’s Federal Service, on their terms and not on your own.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney for Federal Disability Retirement Claims: The concise sentence

What is the difference between being concise and performing with precision?  The former is often applied in the universe of words and communication; the latter, in areas where quantitative measuring tools can be determined, such as in science or in mathematical sectors.

We say of a person who speaks voluminously but with little substance that he or she represents the antonym of conciseness; and so a comparison is often made between volume spoken or written and concepts or thoughts conveyed.  Of Literature, most would agree that Hemingway is the representative paradigm of conciseness, whereas Joyce and Faulkner reflect the very opposite, though all three are considered classic and great authors.

Do we excuse such authors as Joyce and Faulkner because, in literature, we tend to focus upon the stylistic brilliance of their writings as opposed to the “meaning” that captures the undercurrent of their works?  In other words, although they may give us “too many” words and thus are, by definition, lacking of conciseness, we nevertheless overlook such imprecision precisely because we do not attribute “amount” as the necessary and sufficient cause of determining the worth of good authorship.

Hemingway used to say that, in writing, he had already formulated each sentence before setting it upon paper, whether in handwriting (a lost art) or at the typewriter (a manual, when those contraptions existed and where the clack-clack of metal keys pounded deep into the twilight of a writer’s life).

Why do we applaud and celebrate the concise sentence?  Does it make a difference whether or not a sentence, say, with 7 words communicates a thought as opposed to a paragraph with a thousand words that conveys the identical conceptual construct?

Take the following 2 examples: 1. Lessening of debt equals wealth. Or, 2: If you have less to owe to others, then it is the same as savings; or, as Benjamin Franklin used to say, a penny saved is a penny earned, and the reality of it all is that we have more to spend and retain wealth, not so much because you have more money, but you have more because less is spent on paying other people your hard-earned dollars.

Now, both sentences convey essentially the same meaning.  The first one, however, is comprised of 5 words. The second one took…many words to communicate the same thought.  Does it matter whether a concise sentence is used, as opposed to one that is not, if the same two convey identically reflective thoughts?

It might make a difference, because of one factor that has not been discussed: Being concise often possesses the added feature of being precise, and precision is important in the accuracy of conveying thought.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are thinking about preparing, formulating and filing 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 or CSRS Offset, there is a dual-key component to preparing the SF 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability: Be concise, but do not forego length for completeness.

In other words, being concise in order to convey the proper information is important; but, at the same time, do not sacrifice wordiness just because of the limited “boxes” that are provided on SF 3112A.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Attorney Representation OPM Disability Retirement: The Grammar of Life

How we speak about the world; the words we use, the vocabulary inserted; and of the commas, hyphens and semicolons inserted; are they merely contained within the language games engaged, or are they reflective of a greater whole within aworld that views reality through the lens of language? Does what we say, how we speak, the words we choose and the accent intoned make a difference – and, if so, how, to whom and to what extent?

Certainly, it shapes how “others” see us, but what of our own self-image and the role we play in the everyday discourse of life?  When we refer to the “grammar of life”, the connotations and insinuations are endless; for, in this age of modernity, where most of us rarely encounter the objective world – except when crossing streets, sitting down for a meal or engaging in private acts otherwise unseen and unheard – but remain within the various “language games” of discourse, thoughts, self-reflection, analysis, contemplation and soliloquys.

Think about it; what amount of time is spent on reading, writing, responding to emails, getting on the computer, viewing, watching a movie, a video, discoursing with someone else, on our smartphones, texting, etc.?  In all such amalgamations of activities just described, we are merely engaging in the grammar of life – of the rules of speaking, emailing, texting, commenting, responding, initiating, etc.  The remainder – of actual engagement in the reality of this “objective” universe we must contend with – has become but a fragment of this surreal, virtual and insular world.

How much time have we spent on “perfecting” or otherwise becoming more skillful in maneuvering through the curves and pitches of this new reality?  Have we mastered the grammar of life, or are we just bumbling through the discourses as if reality is merely a byproduct and encountering the “world” is but a means to an end?

The Grammar of Life is important to recognize, because we spend a great deal more time in it than we recognize or admit to, and we were drawn into that alternative universe without any deliberative intent or acknowledgment of choice.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and 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, you need to prepare to engage a “special” section of the Grammar of Life when coming up against your Federal Agency, the Postal Service and OPM, when preparing an effective OPM Disability Retirement packet.

For, in the end, it is the “ultimate” of putting together a compendium of language games – from how the medical reports and records are presented; to the legal arguments made; to the fashioning of the Applicant’s Statement of Disability on SF 3112A – all constitute and are comprised of the Grammar of Life, and if you have not been preparing throughout your life to take on such a challenge, it may be a good idea to consult with an attorney who has honed the skills of what to say, how to say it, and when to say it, which are the three essential rules in the Grammar of Life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: How truly ordinary we are

Every now and again, someone will make that inane statement that seems to fly by in a discourse of overwhelming linguistic overcrowding of so many such pearls of wisdom:  “Oh, we’re all just human.”  Is it a logical tautology in a strict sense?  The “we” referred to is obviously a subject which includes individual human beings; the “human” described and identified, is the same as the “we” previously posited.  So, it is the same as saying:  “Oh, humans are all just human.”

If that were said, instead, would we not turn with a puzzled look of suspicion, as if the statement made was uttered in such a nonsensical term that the meeting of eyes would, or at least should, erupt with uncontrollable laughter like two hyenas cackling at the full moon?  Or, despite the inane nature of meaninglessness, do we all have a shared cultural norm of language, such that we recognize and comprehend such statements?  For, the sentence itself evokes meanings of shared belief: We are all less than perfect; Don’t worry about it, we all do that from time to time; The ordinariness of human frailty allows for each to give another the benefit of the doubt.

It also points to a slightly deeper meaning:  That, in our humanity, how truly ordinary we are.  Yet, isn’t that very ordinariness that which allows for the shared commonality of community?  The fact that we are ordinary is precisely what allows us all to “fit in”, and concurrently, touches upon that darker side of human nature to spur cruelty, arrogance, superiority and disdain.  For, it is the Darwinian predisposition to conquer and defeat, of “showing up” everyone else that we are what we are not created as – being ordinary.

That is why, when a medical condition is revealed, it is the weakness and the vulnerability that suddenly causes others to shy away, to shun, and to harass and prey upon.  Our ordinariness, in combination with the scientifically and anthropologically explained behavior traits of “survival instincts” and aggressive, predatory inclinations, somewhat defines why we are who we are and how, in a society that supposedly advances continually, we still revert back to your roots of caveman-like follies.

Medical conditions depict our ordinariness.  Manifested medical conditions attract the predatory inclinations within, like predisposed genetic and cellular triggers that cannot be stopped.

That is what Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition triggers a need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, need to understand:  That we our human; our humanness reveals vulnerabilities; that such vulnerabilities will manifest themselves in quite ordinary revelations, including medical conditions; and, once medical conditions are revealed, it will likely trigger aggressive and predatory reactions, and attract those very hominids who, by Darwinian triggers of genetic predispositions, will react in an attempt to rise above our humanity.

Agencies act that way; the U.S. Postal Service certainly treats it employees in that thread of behavioral responsiveness.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers, keep in mind that, in filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, how truly ordinary we are is merely another way of recognizing that not only are we just human, but we can also reveal that dark side inherent in all in the rise to subvert just how truly ordinary we are, which only further uncovers how truly ordinary they are, as well.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: The perfection of nothingness

The advantage of nothingness over the clutter of everything is that the former – despite lacking any characteristic of anything concrete, or perhaps because of it – retains and reflects an aura of perfection.  It is perhaps a puzzle to consider perfection in that which represents vacuity, but think about it:  It is the figment and filament of negation which can represent the penultimate artifice of unsullied brightness; everything that is in being, can be found fault with, but nothing that exists cannot be prosecuted for imperfection.

That is why Anselm’s Ontological Argument for God’s existence is so deliciously irrelevant:  lacking any “real-world” content, the irrefutable perfection of its linguistic construct allows us to believe with such irredeemable faith in the a priori nature untouched and unable to be deconstructed in a world where everything is otherwise unmasked as either superficial, virtual or unreal.

The prefatory acceptance of the major premise – “That than which nothing greater can be thought of” – is itself of such irrelevant tripe (the substantive reference to the content, not the animal’s innards) that we involuntarily warm our hands and lick our lips before pouncing with predatory glee upon such sophomoric tropes (easy to exchange the “i” for an “o”).  And then we turn to our projects, as Heidegger would describe, in order to forget the unmasked and unveiled reality of our present concerns, because procrastination is the epitome of acknowledging our unmanageable souls and lives of decrepit conduct unlike the angels of yore.

There is nothing but imagination to feed our tired souls, anymore.  This isn’t even a “postmodern” world; instead, it is a “post-cynical” world.  We have unmasked every hero, dissected anything of value, and demeaned all content and reduced it all to mere materialism.  The only thing left for us to elevate to a heightened sense of ecstasy is nothingness itself.  Only if it survives in the corridors of our own minds and creative imaginations, can it be considered perfection.  For, in the real world, nothing that is of value can be trusted, and everything else remains but nothingness.

That is why, for the Federal or Postal employee who continues to procrastinate his or her Federal Disability Retirement filing, the perfection of nothingness often remains as the final hint of hope.  For, so long as one never tries, one can never fail.  Perfection in the security of not, is the epitome of safety.  By failing to file and remaining miserable in the pain and agony of one’s medical condition, the hope of future filing remains as the hint of hope for the future.  But the problem with such an approach – as with Anselm’s argument for the existence of God – is that we live in a world of real pain, real deterioration, and real destiny.

Preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application by the Federal or Postal employee requires a “next step” forward in order to move beyond the perfection of nothingness.

In the trite parlance of ongoing modernity, there is never anything gained if nothing is attempted, but for the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who suffers 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 positional duties, the agony of continuing in a job which is self-destructive, is by its very nature an admission that perfecting that artifice of nothingness is nothing more than delaying the reality of an uncertain future where the perfection of nothingness will gain nothing more than the reality of nothingness, which is nothing to hope for.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire