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

 

Federal Disability Retirement Law: Sound legal arguments

Arguments in general share a characteristic within the more limited field of those involving legal issues: soundness is based upon factors involving coherence, cogency, consistency and the application of the rules of propositional logic.  The latter — of propositional logic — can get lost in general arguments when they become wrapped in multiple compound statements, shouted with ardor and passion, and conveyed with a sense of unequivocal belief as to one’s “rightness” and doubtless self-righteousness.

Propositional logic within the field of legal argumentation, however, takes on a more limited and restrictive nature, for it normally is contained by the text of legal opinions and cases that have a value of precedence.  The “soundness” or its antonym — of an “unsound legal argument” — largely depends upon how much the legal practitioner will “stretch” the foundational apparatus involved: the analogical arguments used in citing legal precedents.

Future legal opinions — those evolving from the very attempts by lawyers to stretch those precedents into areas heretofore disallowed — are based upon the persuasive propositional logic argued at the appellate level, and even in the various stages of an OPM Disability Retirement case.  On an informal level, of course, one will want to cite legal precedents to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management at the first two stages of the process — at the Initial Stage of the OPM Disability Retirement process, as well as the Second, “Reconsideration” Stage.

At both levels, sound legal argumentation should be employed — by “sound”, meaning that the basic and well-known legal precedents should be cited involving what constitutes meeting the burden of proof in a Federal Disability Retirement application; what meets the legal requirements of an “accommodation”; the importance of medical evidence and the criteria that must be applied in assessing and evaluating the content and substance of the medical evidence presented; as well as the foundational basis of “sound” legal cases which delineate, in a persuasive manner, the compendium of evidentiary documentation which comprises one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.

At the “Third Level” of the process, of course — an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (or more familiarly known as the “MSPB”) — one must take extra care in presenting sound legal arguments, because there, an Administrative Law Judge will be attuned to the “stretching” and “extension-attempting” arguments that citation of legal precedents may pose, and the “soundness” of one’s knowledge of “the law” is often a prerequisite in even trying to make one’s case before such an Administrative Law Judge.

For, in the end, sound legal arguments are not too dissimilar from arguments sound or unsound in general; they just require an extra component of legal training allowed that involves the proper and effective use and application of arguments by analogy based upon case-law precedents.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: The image we hold

It often takes years, and sometimes never; the child that has grown up, lived independently for some time, and has asserted his or her separation and personality still remains a child in the mind of the parent.  The image we hold often far extends beyond the reality that has changed and circumstances have dictated; it is that which remains as the final vestige of what we yearn for, steadfastly refuse to surrender, and allow in our imagination to fester with the desires of fantasies left unrealized.

That is why loss of a parent from the perspective of the child is just as difficult as the loss of a child from the vantage point of a parent; each holds on to the image remaining, like Platonic Forms that transcend the ugly reality of the starkness in broad daylight.  From the child’s perspective, the image we hold is of the omnipotent parent — vibrant, bringing joy and security, always there to reassure.  From the parent’s viewpoint: of the innocence never tarnished, the first gurgle and smile, and that word that bonds the relationship forever and a day.  Yet, each grows; the parent, frail and into senility; the child, into adulthood and loss of innocence.

It is, however, the image we hold that remains, and is the last to exit despite the coffins of despair and the alterations of nature’s cruelty upon the wrinkles of time.

For the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition such that the medical condition no longer allows the Federal or Postal worker to remain in the same job, career and agency of one’s chosen career, there comes a time when Federal Disability Retirement should be a consideration, and the image we hold of a long-lasting tenure as a Federal employee in a particular line of work must, by medical necessity, change.

The image we hold is a figment of one’s stubbornness to remain steadfastly upon a course of immortality; we all have to submit to the winds of change, and 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, is that very change that must go beyond the image we hold — of one’s self.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: The Relative Importance of Minutiae

Triviality is in the eye of the beholder; though, there are some aspects of certain information which almost all can agree upon to be insignificant; but in this universe of informational overload, it is often the small, precise and extended bits which make up for the connecting bridges of relevance.

For the culinary sophisticate, the fact that an octopus has four pairs of arms makes for a greater feast, and if one were to pause and consider that the loss of an arm in its flight from a fisherman’s net might be insignificant from a human standpoint, the capacity to survive in the treachery of the undersea world may depend upon that lost tentacle.

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, the overarching focus is usually upon the grand scheme of things — of the relative importance of the key elements which make up for an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.

In the rush to quickly put together a Federal Disability Retirement application, it is easy to fill out and answer the Standard Forms, especially SF 3112A, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, attach a compendium of medical reports and records, and hope for the best.  But it is often just as much the attention to detail — the minutiae of the little things, the world of microcosmic bits and floating information in the body of office notes and progress reports, like insignificant algae which forms as a film upon the pond’s surface, which results in the basis of a denial by a scrutinizing OPM Specialist.

Like the tentacle found in the fisherman’s net, it is only the keen eye which can tell which of the four pairs of arms it came from, except of course for the octopus, who well knows from the sensation of pain from which it derives.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire