Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Other people’s misery

Why is it that the misery of others tends to soothe our own?  Yes, yes – we grant the common and appropriate responses of heartfelt empathy and facial frowns and perhaps even some tears; but in the end, is it because of the resulting comparative analysis – of a cold, rational and logical methodology of responsive behavior – that we appease the gods of fate in some primitive form of sacrificing others, knowing that so long as the traveling karma has not yet noticed our own plight of devious accord, we are safe for another day?

Or is there some false paradigm upon which most of us operate – that economic prosperity is based upon a limited “pie”, and we must take a set portion before it disappears, or protect the leftovers we have salvaged against the ravenous predators who seek to deprive; or that chance and statistical ascription of proportional divides mandate that there is only a predetermined reach of human misery on a macro-level, and so long as that preset number is satisfied, such tragedy of suffering will leave us untouched?

We certainly have a history of such mythological adherence; whether of man’s historical conduct by religious fervor and slaughter in the name of heavens unreached (which has still not quenched its thirsting pinnacle of folly, as current epics attest to), or in the silent quips and prayers uttered to protect ourselves from nature’s fury; we believe, somehow, that but for the grace granted by an unfathomable other, we would experience the plight of those whom we would rather avoid like the plague.  Or is it much more basic – somewhat like the epidemic which takes the life of another, and the thought is, so long as the infectious predator busily devours and destroys the next guy, you are immune to its distracted attention?

We certainly find relief, and even enjoy the consternation of discussion, in other people’s misery; to stand around and about gossiping of trials and heartaches inflicted (with the distinction appropriated that, because the point of such exchanges are meant to be “helpful”, so the difference between “malicious gossip” and what we engage in must by definition allow for the momentary lapse from decorum) upon “poor Joe” or “Aunt Emma”, all the while making sure that the concealing mask bordering upon frowns and distraught distractions would not betray the sense of relief felt that it is the “other” guy whose misery remains.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the thing that must be known and recognized at the outset is that the human need to embrace, discuss and “do something about” other people’s misery, is that the “other” person is you.  Thus, whether in a small department or a larger agency where anonymity prevails, or in a small post office or larger postal facility, the gossip which runs throughout will be like an untamed fire where no amount of extinguishers will control the spreading of it.

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, is the only way to control the discussion of that which once was the subject of another, when the “other” of other people’s misery becomes the object directed at you.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Benefits: Book Review

Generally, this blog does not review books; however, exceptional works may prompt exceptions to the general order of things, where relevance of subject and beauty of personality may coalesce to consider a slight change of venue.  The work itself will neither become a masterpiece nor a conversation focus beyond a generation or two, as the world it describes is quickly fading into the sunset of eccentricity and scarcity of understanding.

Tim Sultan’s book (and from the jacket cover, it appears to be his first one at that), Sunny’s Nights, is a mixture of reportage, love of character and annotation of provincial myth.  It somewhat follows a format of modern trends in such novels: alternating upon a spectrum of the microcosm of life (Sunny’s, the extended family, and the author’s own) to wider philosophical insights (history of the neighborhood, cultural changes from the turn of the last century into the 20th and to modernity) portending of the macro-impact of a lost and fading relevance; but it is the author’s love of the main character (Sunny), the loss of humanity (through shared anonymity of a genuine speakeasy) and the wit, humor and sharing of stories, which makes for a work beyond an ordinary read.

The author is quite obviously a good listener (to the multiple tales of life and love as told by Sunny); his love of words reflects the warmth of camaraderie he feels for his characters; and his own insertion as a participating protagonist never detracts from the trilogy of subjects:  the place (the bar which is discovered in the outer periphery of societal acceptance, where the characters meet and enjoy the company of each other); the people (Sunny, his heritage, and the people who gather at the bar); and the growing loss of community with the encroachment of technology and cultural upheaval.

It has all of the ingredients for the making of a quiet work of art, as it reveals the best of any great story — a main character of complex fortitude.  For, in the end, every book worth reading should provide for an understanding of complexity, human failure and microcosm of achievement, and not necessarily in that order.

Tim Sultan’s work, Sunny’s Nights, is an enjoyable read at worst, and at best, a recognition that in the end, life fails to mean much unless one listens carefully and plods along searching for the company of community.  And, in the end, isn’t that the same for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who seek an alternate venue when a medical condition arises and the Federal or Postal employee must 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?

When the medical condition begins to prevent the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the loss of a similar trilogy occurs:  the place (one’s position with the Federal agency or the U.S. Postal Service); the people (coworkers and friends developed over the many years through work and community of contact); and the upheaval from the changes prompted from one’s medical condition and the inability to continue in the career of choice.

Not everything in life is limited in relevance or meaning by the circumstances of one’s present condition, and for the Federal or Postal worker who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, taking a moment to read Tim Sultan’s book, Sunny’s Nights, may allow for a momentary time of distraction from the daily agony of a progressively deteriorating medical condition, and to help focus in the preparation of an effective Federal OPM Disability Retirement application and the challenges the Federal or Postal worker must face in the days ahead.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire