As with most things in life, it is helpful to understand the “context” of an event, an occurrence or a process. In the context of preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to understand that this is essentially a “paper presentation” to an agency which processes thousands of such similar applications, assigned to a person who has a name and (if you are lucky) a voice over the telephone.
Unless it it denied twice (first at the Initial Stage of the Process, then at the “Reconsideration Stage” of the process), there will be very little direct interaction between the OPM Representative assigned to evaluating and determining a Federal or Postal worker’s Federal Disability Retirement application) and the Applicant. Even at the Merit Systems Protection Board, the “human interaction” will be limited over the telephone.
Thus, the underlying “context” of a Federal Disability Retirement application is a “Paper Presentation” of a case. This is not a criticism of the process — indeed, if one stops and reflects upon it, it may be the fairest methodology of undertaking such a process, precisely because it excludes the possibility of favoritism, of bias in favor of personalities or persuasive personal appearance and presentation.
Instead, it is presented to the determiner of the Federal Disability Retirement application based upon the “cold facts” as described and delineated on paper. Thus, a certain sense of “objectivity” is arrived at because of the very limitations imposed by a paper presentation. Understanding this contextual foundation is useful and helpful in making sure that the efforts expended should be focused upon acquiring the best evidence in order to formulate such a paper presentation — to include making sure that the presentation itself is professional, crisp, streamlined, and not filled with a lot of superfluous niceties.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire