As with all effective submissions — pleadings, motions, legal memorandums and, alas, Federal Disability Retirement applications — it should never be approached in a mechanical, one-to-one ratio-like, mathematical manner. Of course it should contain the technical terms, the medical terms, and the legal arguments. However, disability retirement under FERS & CSRS — especially the Applicant’s Statement of disability and any legal arguments — should not be matter of matching up a one-to-one correspondence between the medical condition and the particular essential elements which it prevents or impacts. Certainly, the effect and the conclusion should contain that conceptual correspondence; however, as all good writing contains a technical side, it is also important to weave the story of the human condition and see the writing as an “art” form.
The impact of the human story is important in convincing and persuading the OPM representative to not only understand the medical condition, but to get a sense of empathy for what the applicant is going through. It is a delicate balance to achieve; yes, the hard legal arguments should be made in order to “force” OPM to see that, legally, they are obligated to approve a disability retirement application; at the same time, if you can touch the empathetic nature of the OPM representative, so much the better.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire