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

 

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: What not to say

Of course what not to say is as important as the things one says.  Such a warning is true in most contexts — social; professional; personal; familial; in either private or public settings.  We are taught that at an early age, and continue to feel its social and cultural “bite” throughout adulthood, until one has (hopefully) gained some wisdom throughout the years.

Some never learn it — perhaps because they never had to endure the consequences that naturally come about, or simply don’t care or, in the very rare instance of uniqueness, do not need to care either because of wealth, power or prestige that, like the teflon individual, no amount of social crudeness will wipe the sheen away.

“Don’t stare” is an admonition that parents make early on — another form of “what not to say”, except this one in correcting a non-verbal action.  “Don’t say things that are hurtful”, or “Don’t divulge private information to people you don’t know”, as well as the one that has to be balanced with concerns about putting too much fear into a child: “Don’t talk to strangers”.

It is, indeed, the “don’ts” in life that define the social graces within acceptable normative behaviors, and as the spoken work (or the written, as the case may be) takes up so much of human interaction, what we learn not to say, how we act and are restrained from acting, often defines the extent of a person’s maturity and learning.

It is often the negative which defines the positive — i.e., what we do not see is rarely noticed, but constrains that which is revealed (the positive) so that the unseemly and rough edges have been worn away, manifesting a smoothness that borders upon beauty.  But never underestimate the destructive force of that which is negated; for, if forgotten, it will resurface and damage.

Thus, for Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, always remember that — in preparing, formulating and getting ready to file a Federal or Postal Disability Retirement application — it is important to keep in mind those things NOT to say or reveal; for, once you admit freely a legal basis upon which a denial becomes a certainty, it is difficult to retract that which is revealed.

So, in the end, your parents are proven right: What they told you NOT to say is precisely the rule to follow.  The problem, however, is that when it comes to dealing with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, you will need to consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law in order to comprehend the full import of what not to say.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Medical Retirement Law Blog: The Mannequin

The garment may alter, but the pose remains stilted; and no matter what angle the inertia of fashion may be looked at, the expression remains impassive and impenetrable.  Mannequins pose for the public, display the wears without complaint, and fill spaces without disturbances or complaints.  They simply “are”.  Such an existence — of an uncomplaining coexistence with eyes meant to attract upon the changing appearances intended to detract — is often the very definition of a Federal employee or a U.S. Postal worker.

Like mannequins stilted in front of a display window, the Federal and Postal worker is often “there” for years and decades, quietly performing the work that is assigned, accomplishing without accolades but for internal performance reviews and peer ratings, expected to remain silent but for the wears which are displayed.  But then an illness, a medical condition, a disability suddenly enlivens, and the once quietude of existence becomes a focal point of harassment, workplace hostility and trends of gossip.

That mannequin was a person, after all, and interest is remarkably shown when ignoring and repetitive superficiality of meaningless salutations once pervaded the office or work environment.

For Federal or Postal employees, filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is often the best option remaining.

The eyes which merely looked beyond the stilted figure but are now upon the live entity, need to again be diverted, such that life can go on again.  To get beyond an environment of poison is to sometimes exit quietly and without fanfare; filing for Federal Disability Retirement is a way for Federal and Postal employees to step outside of the self-destructive hostility, and to rebuild the life once dreamed of by attending to one’s medical condition, first, while securing a future or a second vocation.

Once attained, perhaps those who surround with love and concern will look upon the mannequin beyond the mere appearances, and instead to the substance of the person beneath.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Lawyer: The Recurrent Nightmare

Perhaps it is explicit, of images which repetitively beat the drum of constancy; or, sometimes, despite every effort, one cannot recall the harrowing particulars of a nighttime of eternity filled with dissipation of fear and loathing.

Restorative sleep is lacking; whether from pain, nightmares or paralyzing panic attacks; and the medical designation of insomnia, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or psychiatric conditions of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, intrusive nightmares; or perhaps it is much more direct and simple:  pain which prevents getting into a comfortable position in order to drift off into the dreamland of serenity, and where the sharpness compels one to awaken with a scream, only to find that it is the silence of one’s aloneness which permeates the quietude of the voice which no one hears.

The next morning, the profound fatigue and exhaustion, beyond the mere ache of tiredness, with residual cognitive dysfunctions,follows one throughout the day, like a scent of undefinable and unidentifiable aura, always there but never quite connected, either in location, distance or substantive content.  For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who experience a semblance of such a state of being, it becomes like a recurrent nightmare, and work becomes impacted in so many different ways.

In physical-intensive jobs, in the greater potentiality for mistakes and accidents; in cognitive-focused positions, in analytical miscues and inability to focus and concentrate.  Perhaps it all becomes reflected in one’s performance review, or one becomes placed on a “Performance Improvement Plan” (a PIP); or even be handed an Agency’s Proposed Removal; whatever the cost, for the Federal or Postal worker, it is time to consider preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

No, Federal Disability Retirement is not the “be all” and “end all” of solutions; but it is an option which should always be considered when once the recurrent nightmare engulfs the Federal or Postal worker with consequences of adverse actions imposed upon a fragile state of being ready to crack under the weight of a chronic disease or medical condition of such seriousness and sufficiency as to have impacted one’s capacity to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire