FERS Disability Retirement: Refutation of Stefan Zweig’s Essay

FERS OPM Medical Retirement: Refutation of Stefan Zweig’s Essay, “Books are the Gateway to the World”.

Not quite a refutation, but merely a protest — and perhaps a defense of illiteracy.  Zweig writes beautifully; persuasively; in colorful prose that captivates; in convincing form — if not in logical argumentation, but more as a poet who is convinced that words, books, literacy and the spread of the written word is indispensable to life itself.

He ends with this poetic flourish: “The more intimately the man associates with books the more profoundly he experiences the unity of life, for his personality is multiplied; he sees not only with his own eyes but with the countless eyes of the soul, and by their sublime help he travels with loving sympathy through the whole world.”

Who can argue with that?  Who can so poetically refute and rebut a sentence of such insightful beauty?  Yet, it is not with the argument for books and literacy that is objectionable, but rather, the notion that the man with whom he met and befriended but who is later found to be illiterate — that this rampage of sorrow and defense of literacy is at the expense of this unfortunate man.

Consider how he describes such a person: “He is walled in by himself, because he knows nothing of books; his life is dull, troglodytic (Definition: a “member of any of various peoples (as in antiquity) who lived or were reputed to live chiefly in caves” — i.e., “cavemen” or “cavewomen”).  And: “I was shocked to think how narrow the world must seem to the man who has no books.”

True, Zweig may have felt pity for his new-found friend, whom he previously described as a person who possessed a “genius for mimicry and caricatured everybody”, and whom he found fascinating and of enjoyable company — until, it turns out, that he discovered his illiteracy.

The essay ends without a conclusion; perhaps he took the time (without writing about it) with the friend and taught him how to read.  More likely, they went their separate ways — the other fellow pitied for the remainder of Zweig’s days, the author convinced that he was an individual to be pitied.  But that is the criticism to be posited, isn’t it?  That we make judgments without judging ourselves, and unjustifiably when we have the power to do something about the ills we encounter.

For Federal and Postal employees who have encountered that very circumstance — of facing judgments by others while nothing is being done — of a Federal Agency or the Postal Service that has determined that you are not worth “saving” because of a medical condition that now prevents you from performing one or more of the essential elements of your Federal or Postal job; it is then time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS.

Don’t wait around for help from your Agency or the Postal Service; it is likely that you will not receive it.  Instead, consult with a FERS Disability Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.  For, in the end, the decision to take the next step to “help yourself” will be up to you, and you should not consider the Federal Agency or the Postal Service to help you as your “friend” — leaving aside whether they will even feel a scintilla of pity for you; they won’t.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Future Plans Deterred

The common criticism launched against Bishop Berkeley, whether deservedly or not, is that his philosophical positions fly against the common sense of everyday experience.  Of course, it all depends upon how you interpret his position.

His generally-accepted dictum of “Esse est percipi” (no, we will not try and be like the great William F. Buckley, engaging in the well-known habit of interspersing Latin phrases which no one understood but everyone acted like they did; and instead will provide in the next dependent clause the English translation so as not to appear too intellectually prudish) — “To be (i.e., to exist) is to be perceived” — engendered ridicule, confusion, complex rebuttals for justification of untenable positions, and a firestorm of fascinating linguistic gymnastics to explain contortions of philosophical positions.  For, we all believe that there exists, beyond our own perceptions, an objective world separate and apart from the experiential sensations of our own bodies.

One might counter: If “existence” is defined merely by our own sensations, then we should be able to defy the objective existence of the world by numbing our perceptual apparatus.  Thus, if a bus is oncoming, simply blot out our perceptual capacities and when the bus “hits” us — poof! — no bus.  Similarly, when we leave a room, the existence of the room from which we just exited is assumed to still exist despite our distance from it where we no longer perceive it.  In other words, we “believe” that the viability of the objective world does not depend upon our perceiving it.

Thus, the criticism of the statement itself — “To be” (i.e., exist) “is to be perceived” (i.e., that such existence depends upon our perception of it) — is thought to be nonsensical.  It is akin, likewise, to our future plans.  We expect future occurrences to follow upon the path of present conditions.  Thus do we wake up each morning and expect the coffee to taste somewhat like the way it tasted the day before, and the day before that; that when we awaken, the ceiling above is the same color as it was the morning previous; and that the office or worksite we will approach will be there as it was before.  The future depends upon the present; the present is inescapably embraced by the past; and so we walk about in this universe expecting that future plans will be undeterred by unexpected phenomena.  Except, when they are.

Medical conditions do that, don’t they?  They deter future plans because they disrupt what we were before; they alter the scope of who we were just yesterday, or the day before.  The proverbial “room of existence” that Berkeley posited has in fact changed; it is no longer the “I” who was yesterday.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS is an attempt to regain the existential “I” of yesterday, in an effort to be able to focus upon one’s health instead of constantly worrying about tomorrow’s future with one’s Federal Agency or Postal Service job.  Consider consulting with an Attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law.  It may be that existence depends more upon one’s perception than you think, and that future plans deterred may become undeterred by preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: Waves of Misfortune

Metaphors allow us to understand our circumstances; by relating the circumstance to the natural world around us, we feel a greater kinship when, in all other aspects of our lives, we have tried to alienate ourselves and artificially separate our lives from the origins of our own existence.  Similes, of course, always contain the comparative contrast that allows for a space between that which is compared and the reality of “what is”.

Thus, to say that “X is like Y” is quite different from saying that “X is Y”, even though we know in both instances that X is not Y, and that is precisely why we assert that there is a likeness between X and Y (because “likeness” is not the same as “sameness”) and also why we declare X to be Y even though they are not one and the same.  Thus is there a difference between “Waves of misfortune” (a metaphor) and “Misfortune are like waves” (a simile).

The comparative preposition creates a once-removed parallelism (simile), whereas the metaphor makes no doubt of the mirror image of one with the other.

Medical conditions are more like metaphors (here, we are utilizing a simile to describe a metaphor); there is no space or removal between the situations being compared.  To have a medical condition is not “like” something else; rather, it is the reality of one’s existence.  It is through metaphors, however, as well as similes that we describe the symptoms to our doctors and others, to try and help them understand what it is like to be in constant pain, to be depressed, to be profoundly fatigued.

And for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition necessitates preparing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it must be understood that the Federal Disability Retirement “package” is a paper presentation to OPM, and thus must by necessity use both metaphors and similes in order to persuade OPM of having met the legal criteria of a FERS Disability Retirement application.

The “waves of misfortune” must be described persuasively, lest they become a metaphor for failure in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application that results in a denial as opposed to an approval.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Being another

When you read that some actor, writer, politician or commentator (dare we ask why, in a single sentence, all of them have been lumped side by side) says X or does Y, we often allow our own ego as the “one-upsmanship” to overtake us, and we imagine that, if we were there, we would have said “XX” instead of “X”, or done “YY” instead of the mere “Y”.

At the moment, though we rarely recognize the egocentric reality of what we are doing, we actually “become” that actor, that writer, that politician or that commentator, and assume the role and identity of the person we have replaced in our mind’s eye.  Insanity, of course, comes about when a further step is taken — of believing not what we “would” have done or said, but incontrovertibly becoming that someone whom we are not.

The quantity of time expended within the insularity of our lives is astounding; and the personal — albeit creative and imaginative — excursions into another type of virtual reality consumes a greater part of each day, every hour and multiple minutes of our disjointed lives.  Perhaps this occurs in a quick flash of a stream of passing thoughts; or a long, enduring daydream that recurs through the day, the week, and over a month’s time; but of whatever duration, being another is something that we all do, and always at the expense one’s own ego and those who are close to us.

Being another also occurs in hopeful encounters with our own circumstances.  We imagine that we are ourselves, but also another who is simultaneously identical and yet different.  That is what a medical condition does — it divides the reality of who we are today from the memory of who we were yesterday, and further projects a person of what will become of us in the future, near or far.  Often, emotions become entangled in the images of who we are, and so regret pervades the past, anxiety overwhelms the present, and fear pursues the future.

Medical conditions tend to inject a factor that we have no control over, and it is that loss of control, combined with who we see ourselves as, and who we would rather be or become, that presents a dilemma: As circumstances change, can we continue to remain who we are and allow for being another — the “other” being the person who we once were — to continue as if such changes of circumstances never occurred?

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition has “changed” a person to the extent that he or she is now “another” — someone not quite dissimilar to yesterday’s you but also not identical to today’s yesterday of the person we just met — because of circumstances beyond one’s control, it may be time to do that which only another in a different time and distinguishing context may have contemplated: file 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.

The reality is that we are never the same as who we were yesterday, and last year’s child of imaginative “being another” has grown into the “other” that was once imagined.

In the end, the essence of who we are will not have changed because of a medical condition, and what we do in life beyond filing for and obtaining a Federal Disability Retirement is more important than feeling self-pity for not having fulfilled one’s desire for being another, who was yesterday’s another in a different role from today’s another or tomorrow’s another.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement from Federal Service: By what right?

It is a question often posed in the dead of night by those who would undermine an assertion based upon an instinctive sense of fairness, but perhaps not able to be articulated in comprehensible form.  By what right do you enter these premises?  By what right do you express that opinion?  By what right do you think you can do that?

It is, as with many questions, one that has a sadly contextual background of a negative past – for, whenever a person, a populace or a segment of a greater society begins to assert a “right”, it was generally preceded by a breakdown of community and caring.  For example: A violation of another’s property where a fence has not yet been placed should be resolved by two neighbors discussing the infraction or infringement without resorting to a higher authority.  If that “neighborliness” cannot resolve the conflict, then a fence may be built and the right to build such a fence can be asserted by the fence-building-neighbor as a “right” of property ownership.  No one would, or could, dispute such a right to do so, but the mere fact that a fence had to be built is evidence of a preceding breakdown of the unspoken rules of a community, where resolution of a conflict could not be accomplished by discussing, caring, understanding and compromising for the sake of a community’s greater good, but instead results in a declarative reference to one’s “right” to do X, Y or Z.

Rights should have the insipid connotation of negativity to the extent that asserting them is something of a last resort and the last bastion of scoundrels and suspicious individuals seen in an unfavorable communal light; but in modernity, shouting out one’s “right” to do this or that, or standing on a soapbox and pontificating about how we (why does everyone assume that he or she has a “right” to speak on behalf of that undefined “we” in the first place?) have every “right” to be here, do this or that or be “in your face” because of the proverbial “catch-all” – the “Bill of Rights”.  By what right?

For Federal and Postal employees who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it may well be that asserting one’s right to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits was preceded by a context of negativity – of the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal facility failing to, refusing to, or otherwise not showing effort for, accommodating one’s medical condition, illness or disability, and that is when the assertion of declaring one’s “right” to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits becomes the inviolable pathway to an exit out of an untenable workplace situation.

To that extent, preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is somewhat akin to building that “fence” between your property and the next-door neighbor’s, whose dog keeps coming into your yard, digging up the freshly-planted bushes and vegetables, pooping all over the place and attacking your cat, and cares not a twit to try and resolve the issue; that, in many ways, is the Federal agency or the Postal facility you work for.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire