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

 

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Fear of one’s shadow

What does that metaphor mean?  Perhaps to different people, different and varying things — of constantly being on edge despite nothing objectively to be anxious about; of fearing the worst around every bend and corner; of imagining impending doom despite the best of times; of never being able to enjoy that which has been attained or accomplished; and a multitude of similar circumstances that evoke an image of a person who remains in a perpetual flux of emotional turmoil.

Does this describe you?  Perhaps there is a reason — some Freudian abscess deep within the damaged psyche of an individual, unidentified and undetected, originating from a trauma experienced in childhood; or, he’s just a “nervous sort of fellow”.  Fear of one’s shadow is that person who expects the worst even within circumstances that highlight the best.  It is not just a lack of confidence, nor a pessimism that pervades against the reality of the illuminated world; rather, it is the expectation of disaster when reality fails to coincide with shadows that fail to appear even when all around you darkness dominates.

Perhaps we have done a disservice to this newest generation, and the one before, by always encouraging them with hope, never criticizing them, and allowing them to always think “positively” about themselves, their expectations and their future.  Then, when reality abuts against the expectation of anticipated success, this young generation falls apart and is inadequately prepared to handle failure.

Fear of one’s shadow is often the byproduct of an upbringing unprepared and unfortunately ill-prepared to become responsive to failures in life’s cycle of successes and failures.  It is, in many ways, a protective mechanism, where fear is the dominant factor in order to shield one from the reality of the world around.

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 fear of one’s shadow may not be so unrealistic — especially as it concerns how the agency or the Postal Service will act, react, respond to or otherwise initiate sanctions, actions and administrative proposals if you fail to return to a previous level of productivity and attendance regularity.  For, in the end, the Federal Agency and the Postal Service are not in a protective role; rather, they are often the adversary that needs to be constantly reminded of “the laws” that protect and preserve human dignity and contractual responsibilities.

For Federal employees and Postal workers who need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, remember always that it is not one’s own shadow that needs to be feared, but rather, the looming figure behind your own shadow that may come unexpectedly to attack you, and that is why you need to consult with an experienced attorney in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether you are under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

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

 

Medical Retirement from Federal & Postal Employment: The Scraps of Life

But that primary utility and first considerations were always so; if we were inanimate objects able to compete, we would raise our hands and volunteer for the front of the line just to be recognized and implemented.  We whine and complain that the dignity and the essence of each soul should be treated not merely as an end, but a means, and thereby treated with respect and empathy.  But of our actions; how we respond; what we are willing to surrender in order to be used as mere fodder for the foul play of fantasies left as scrap heaps of history?  Are we useful?  Of what good are we?  Do we make a difference?

Such questions become the mindful focus of determining the worth of our being.  Perhaps it is the ingrained determinism of the hunter of yore; that the pursuit of the prey in that pool of genetic yonder era when Darwinian structures compelled the need for vainglory conquests; but in the age of quietude of purpose, where civilizations have settled in cultivated corners of sophisticated inaneness, the need to be recognized and judged as useful still follows upon the self-awareness of one’s relevance in life.

The scraps of life — do we see ourselves as such; like the leftovers unappetizingly shoved aside on a plateful of greasy refuse not even considered by poverty or despair?  How does it “feel” to be forgotten in the dungeons of abandoned corners, left as irrelevant and useless remnants in a society which declares worth and value by the monetary assignation on a gold standard no longer applied?

Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition no longer allows the Federal or Postal employee to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties — they know well the feeling of what is meant by “the scraps of life”.  For, the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who no longer can show the fullness of productivity, prove the worth of fulfilling the “Agency’s Mission” or meet the daily quota of processing the voluminous mountains of mail — it is, indeed, the treatment of the human being as merely an end, and not as the means for a society unconcerned with dignity or respect.

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 option left, in order to be allowed to “move forward” with life.  For, in the end, it is the next phase of life, the chapter following, and the “new and improved” menu for the visiting dignitary and wide-eyed tourist, that matters most.

And for the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker who must cast aside the plate of delectable gastronomics now left as the scraps of life?  Preparing, formulating and filing an effective OPM Disability Retirement application — that is the way off of the plate, and into the furnace of a future uncertain, but surely of greater relevance than to be suddenly lifted and placed beneath the table for the waiting pack of dogs to devour.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire