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

 

OPM FERS Disability Retirement: Coordination of Elements

There is no question about it: It is a complex process.

Administratively, it must be passed through multiple levels of agency review in order to get a completed packet — the Supervisor’s Statement (SF 3112B); Agency’s Efforts for Reassignment and Accommodation (SF 3112D); effectively answering the Applicant’s Statement of Disability such that it provides the proper nexus between each of the questions on SF 3112A — for, although it may not be so obvious, the questions must both be answered separately as well as viewed in the totality of each as being a component fitting in with each other, in order to answer it to completion.

Then, there is the coordination of internal and external elements, and the intersecting impact within and without — of a medical report effectively prepared and consistent with the history of treatment modalities; of a nexus persuasively argued establishing the connective impact between the medical condition and the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job elements; and the interconnectedness of essential elements to the physical or cognitive inability to perform one or more of the essential elements, etc.

Throughout the process — whether for a denial and a rebuttal response at the Reconsideration Stage, or at the initial preparation stage in the First Stage; or, even of an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board — the coordination of elements is important in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Consult with an attorney who specializes in FERS Disability Retirement Law in order to more effectively establish the coordination of elements.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal & Postal Disability Retirement: Inconsistency and specificity

The two legal standards dominant in a Federal Disability Retirement case must often be alternatively applied depending upon the nature of the positional duties involved.  It may be appropriate to speak in terms of “functional capacities” and specified duty restrictions when it comes to physical work that involves descriptive mechanical work — i.e., being able to lift a certain amount (for most Postal employees, up to 70 pounds); bend, lift, stand repetitively throughout the day; or even in climbing ladders, remaining balanced while working on a scaffold; utilizing power tools, etc.

For more cognitive-intensive, focus-driven administrative/executive positions that require sustained and sedentary periods of consistent application, the more generalized standard as pronounced in Henderson v. OPM may be better argued — one of inconsistency and incompatibility between the job duties as a whole because of the cognitive dysfunctioning that results from the high distractibility of pain, lethargy from Major Depressive Disorder or paralyzing panic attacks from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, etc.

Or, take the work engaged by an Air Traffic Control Specialist — there is an admixture of the “inconsistency standard” as well as “specific” elements where sustained focus and concentration is reliant upon the safety and lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

The two legal standards in a Federal Disability Retirement case are not mutually exclusive, and they need not be argued so before the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and beyond, at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (M.S.P.B.).

Medical conditions need to be described in a “nexus-form” to the positional demands of a Federal or Postal job, for ultimately that is what a Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is retiring from — a position description, and not necessarily the actual job that one is working at.

The medical condition that the Federal or Postal employee is suffering from may both be inconsistent and possess descriptive specificity which require restrictions; and, conversely, it may be that certain elements of one’s Federal or Postal position description may require restrictions, leading to the conclusion that the position as a whole is inconsistent with the suffered medical conditions precisely because of the specific, 1-to-1 ratio of “essential element” to “identified medical condition.”

Thus can both standards be argued and used as a sword against OPM”s argument that “specific elements” need to be shown in each and every case, which is simply NOT the case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Legal Representation on Federal Disability Retirement Claims: Plans

We all make them; whether for an anticipated journey or vacation; of a future date far in advance or nearby in time; or merely for an afternoon get-together with an associate, coworker, friend or family member — plans are essential to the coherence of a person’s daily life.

We have “planners” that we carry with us everywhere, and “planned vacations”, “planned playtime” for our kids; a “planned evening out” and meals planned well in advance even before our appetitive natures begin to rumble with echoes of hunger and delight.  There are “coordinated planned attacks” by terrorists, and “exit plans” before an assault is waged upon the enemy.  Then, there are life coaches who help to plan one’s future decisions, counselors who plan for college entrance exams and therapists who assist in planning this or that major decision.

From the moment we realized that simply reacting to the world around us was no longer an efficient methodology in maneuvering through a complex world, where the prey had become suspicious and did not stick around to remain as out next dinner course and predators began planning for counterstrategies to man’s wily peculiarities, we began to plan for the future.

However, the one thing that we have no plan for is the unexpected jolts of life’s servings that come upon one without warning or predictability, such as a deteriorating health condition that was never planned for.  Dreams that spawn plans are easily destroyed by life’s tumults that come in waves of unpredictable surges, just when we think that our “plans” are being realized.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, where the medical condition impacts and prevents the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, it may become necessary to alter one’s long-term plan and goal towards retiring upon reaching the “regular retirement age and time-in-service”, and instead to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS, through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Medical conditions are often the one set of goal-stopping issues that skewer one’s plans; it is normally unplanned for, and is a plan-modifier that requires not only a change of plans, but a new set of plans that should include a plan to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be planned for submission to OPM, and should also include a plan to seek to counsel and advice of an attorney who specializes in such planning.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Employees: Moments of clarity

There are those moments, aren’t there?  It may come as a flash, in the middle of the night, while walking quietly in the woods (or in one’s back yard, pretending that it is in the middle of somewhere’s nowhere, despite the loud humming of lawn mowers and air blowers whoosh-whooshing in the distant yonder over the fence beyond); and it need not be because of some eureka moment or because of problems faced and meditated upon.

There are moments of clarity in life, and they may be identified and described in various ways – of periods of inspiration; of a heated splice of madness; an awakening from a dream despite lack of sleep.  Or, perhaps a spark of genius came about.  A childhood memory, a dream once vanquished, a feeling of regret later in one’s life; these are the crumbs that gather in the corner of the dinner table, left behind like the ghostly apparitions of yesteryear’s hopes and unfulfilled cannibals of thoughtless mimes; and yet they can haunt or stir.

Such moments of clarity can bring about change; or, we can repress, suppress and ignore them, and allow them to wither away like flowers left in the pot of life’s mish-mash of events, and slowly they die, weakened by lack of care and ignorance of beauty.  Medical conditions themselves can bring about such moments of clarity; of the futility of trying to maintain appearances, and instead of facing a reality that is sharpened by pain, anguish and society’s definition of what it means to be productive.

Health is indeed a gift; poor health, or deteriorating health, brings about a different kind of gift – one that sometimes allows for those moments of clarity.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition, such that the medical condition brings about a realization that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to carry on as before, and that preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is now a necessity, it may well be that such a conclusion of a necessary change in one’s life came about because of one of those “moments of clarity”.

Don’t ignore it, as it may not come about again.

Instead, like warnings, clues and prognostications of impending necessities, the need to listen carefully to one’s health and mind may be just a moment of clarity that your body is simply telling you something.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Medical Retirement for Federal Employees: The mouse in the night

They are heard and often unseen; a scratch somewhere from the far corner of the room; a blur along the space between the couch and the wall; and the mouse in the night scurries along, making some amount of noise more greatly enhanced when the quietude of a late evening descends upon us.

Should we put out a mouse trap?  The problem with that is that the dogs might come down in the middle of the night, smell the cheese and get his nose trapped and yowl with pain, waking everyone up.  Or, hope that the mouse in the night minds his own business, scurries about without anyone noticing, and we can all pretend “as if” he doesn’t live in the same house as you do.

Like spiders, centipedes and other crawlers, the mouse in the night is there, has been, and perhaps always will be; we only try and rid the home of it when we hear it and it becomes bothersome.  That’s how we often treat medical conditions, kids who are nuisances, and neighbors who are irritants – we attend to them only when they reach beyond a level of tolerance or a spectrum of acceptability, and then it is often too late.

When does “not yet” and “too late”, or almost too late meet on the spectrum of provocation?  Does the mouse in the night become the provocateur merely because we hear him and imagine the slow but steady destruction he imposes, or the danger of the wife or daughter in the house who may scream suddenly (or is that being sexist to think that only the female gender will react in such a way)?

The mouse in the night is very much like a medical condition, where it comes and slowly steals one’s energy, eats away at the energy one has stored, and scurries along the contours of the walls in a blur of running confusion.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who need to now consider preparing 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, the sudden realization that there is a connection between the medical condition and the slow deterioration of one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of the job can be likened to the mouse in the night – you always knew it was there and that it was slowly eating away, if not by the noise, then by ignoring its presence; you just kept putting it out of your mind because of those “other reasons”, like the trouble it takes, the fact of facing up to it, the avoidance, and maybe even the hope that it would just go away.

But neither mice nor medical conditions go away, but remain as problems that keep gnawing until the hole in the wall becomes too large to ignore.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire