The paradigm of a tabula rasa is a frightening one. It implies a complete negation of historical context, of evolutionary influence, and therefore denies instinct, nature, and pre-conditional implications. But clearly there are confines and parameters of behaviors, and different species of animals will act in specific ways peculiar to the individuality of the entity, while taking on certain imprinting models if surrounded by members of other species.
To assume, however, that no context exists, either in prefix or suffix form, is to deny a fundamental truth at one’s hazard in doing so. For Federal employees and Postal workers who begin to complete the required forms for a Federal Disability Retirement application — whether the informational requirements queried in SF 3107 (or SF 2801 for CSRS individuals); or the series of SF 3112 forms which inquire into the foundational questions of one’s medical conditions, their impact upon the essential elements of the job, etc. — it is important to approach any and all such standard forms with a view towards denying the existence of a tabula rasa, or the concept of a blank slate.
Such pristine states of being do not exist, neither in nature, nor in the complex world of administrative bureaucracies. The history of the forms, of SF 3107, SF 2801, or SF 3112A, SF 3112B, SF 3112C, SF 3112D or SF 3112E, all have a history preceding and superseding the date of the formulation and printing of such forms. Statutory underpinnings, U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board rulings, Federal Circuit Court of Appeals opinions, and expansive legal opinions, all provide a context for each question queried, and each piece of information requested.
Thus, to approach any such OPM Disability Retirement standard form as if it is merely a blank slate, is to proceed down a dark and curving road with ignorance and fail to realize that it is not a quiet, rural road with nary a car, but the Autobahn busy with high-powered vehicles testing the limits of speed.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
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