OPM Medical Retirement: Consistency

For over twelve years, the lack of intervening language contradicting the narrative as put forth by the NBC news anchor allowed for an intended image to prevail; it was only when language from other sources began to intersect, and to refute or otherwise unravel, the factual underpinnings as propounded by the individual, that retractions, admissions and apologies had to be declared and conveyed.  But for those other intervening statements, the language game as played by the news anchor would have continued to dominate, and history would have been remained unquestioned.

Language games, as described and discussed by Wittgenstein, are funny animals; there are, of course, the “facts” and the reality as first encountered in the objective world surrounding us; but once that encounter has occurred, what is left is the correspondence and communication through the medium of our language.  It is through language that past historical occurrences are communicated; and so long as the language used by all others do not contradict or otherwise make misfits of the language game one is playing, all goes well.

It is like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle; the longer one stays at it, the greater the picture becomes entrenched; but once a piece of the greater puzzle manifests a misfit, or it becomes clear that there are either pieces missing or ones that don’t belong, then the entirety of the whole begins to crumble. We tend to place all of such occurrences under the general aegis of “consistency“.

Submission of a Federal Disability Retirement application by a Federal employee or a U.S. Postal worker has a parallel effect.  You begin with a factual basis:  the medical condition.  Beyond the factual basis, one must then begin to formulate a “Statement of Disability” as propounded on SF 3112A, where the description and delineation must include the logical connection to one’s positional requirements and why you cannot perform one or more of the essential elements of the Federal or Postal position.

Here, consistency is crucial; how one characterizes the nexus between the medical condition and the essential elements of one’s job; the manner of one’s description; the consistency of application and bridge between the two elements of the case, the medical condition and the positional requirements of the job.

It is, ultimately, a language game precisely because a Federal Disability Retirement application is a presentation submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and whether the applicant for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the pieces of the puzzle which make for an effective Federal Disability Retirement application all must fit to make up the wholeness of that which matters most in any language game:  consistency.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Employee Disability Retirement: Self-predication

Some people are uncomfortable in doing it; others relish the repetitive self-reference, enjoying the first-person attribution and the incessant pronouncement of the personal pronoun, the centrality of dramatic characterization every time the “I” is inserted; throughout, everyone recognizes that the identification of the “I” can never be fully expunged despite a heightened level of modesty or humility.

There is an artfulness to speaking about one’s self while at the same time making it appear as an objectification of the referential focus.  Talking about oneself; constantly inserting the self-attribution throughout a narrative; dominating every element of a conversation with self referential accolades; these can all be overwhelming, leaving aside the issue of being irritating.  But in some circumstances, such self attribution cannot be avoided.  There are times when we must talk about ourselves, but the manner of how it is done can be the difference between repetitive boredom and referential relevance.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the requirement to prepare, formulate and file one’s Statement of Disability on Standard Form 3112A is something which must accompany every Federal Disability Retirement application. That is where one tells one’s “story” about the medical condition, the impact upon the ability to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties, and upon other and personal aspects of living.  Of course, self-reference and attribution of the personal pronoun must be used; but it is also a time and place where a prevailing sense of objectivity should be garnered, and where peripheral irrelevancies should be strictly limited and contained.

Concise brevity should guide one; reference to outside sources and medical evidence should be encapsulated; the story of centrality should be about the impact upon the personal “I”; and yet, throughout, the truth of the narrative should come out such that self-predication does not constitute self-promotion with an ulterior motive, but rather, that the universe of living beings has for a brief moment in time, allowed the spotlight of significance upon a singular entity who has dedicated him/herself to the mission of an agency, but where unforeseen circumstances of life beyond one’s control has necessitated the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Federal Disability Retirement: Indexicals

It is indeed the specific context of a situation which provides for referential data giving individualized meaning to a case. But for Federal Disability Retirement cases, the unique contextual information concerning where, by whom, in what timeframe, may be perfectly allowable in a “for instance” or “for example” type of descriptive enhancement, but ultimately what the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is looking for is the example which represents a medical condition or symptom thereof that is chronic, is of consistent duration, and which is not merely a singular event.

Yes, indexicals of referential relevance represented by “here”, “when” and “where”, with the inclusion of epistemological privilege and the insertion of “I” in repetitive manner, can convey the personalized account which touches upon a sensitive soul; but in the end, it is the scientific, objective coldness of diagnoses, symptoms and delineations of chronic descriptions which establish the viable connection between one’s medical condition and the inability to perform the essential elements of one’s positional duties.

Thus, in formulating one’s Statement of Disability as configured on SF 3112A, it can be an effective tool of one’s narrative to weave back and forth between the indexical and the objective third person, and even extrapolating and including statements from medical documents, treatment notes, etc.

Ultimately, in the preparation and formulation of an OPM Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, it is best to set aside the constraints of space as imposed by SF 3112A, and to provide a concise but detailed narrative which fully satisfies the questions posed and queried by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Application Forms: SF 3112A and the Pathway through the Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy and creativity are conceptual opposites, rarely spoken in the same sentence, and never compatible, representing always a contrast in self-contradictory terms. For, it is the former which implies the negation of the latter, or the stamping out of any hint of the former’s influence upon the latter.  Bureaucracy refers to the mundane, of repetitive standardization and compliance with mediocrity; whereas the latter embraces the unconventional and the need to push the boundaries of acceptable norms.

When the two meet, it generally means a clash of sorts, and the encounter can rarely accommodate one another.  Further, one assumes that factual implantations implicate negation of creative allowances; and so one responds accordingly when voluntarily engaging in a bureaucratic process.

Standard Forms tend to prove the point.  The limited space presented; the manner of the questions posed; the real-world questions requested to be answered; all tend towards negation of any creative inclination. But creativity can imply something beyond mere fictional attestation. Rather, it can be the compiling of a response, but with words and choice of adjectives which enhance and enliven. Coherency and cogency are in themselves creative repositories, and placed within the confines of strictures of a bureaucracy, can awaken the souls of clerks and administrative specialists who pride themselves on the efficiency of mechanical laborings.

The Applicant’s Statement of Disability OPM SF 3112A, where the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, asks specific questions concerning one’s disability or medical condition, and its impact upon one’s ability or inability to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position, as well as the impact upon one’s personal life and capacity for daily living. SF 3112A is, in many ways, the key and pathway through the passageway of the greater bureaucracy.

Whether the Federal employee or the Postal worker conforms to the Standard Form 3112 itself, is the question of how one approaches success or failure.  While the questions posed may seem straightforward, the creativity behind the questions reveal a silence muted by the complexity of the statutory history, the background of multiple case-law opinions and Merit Systems Protection Board findings, which have over the years expanded upon and creatively interpreted the limits of each query posed.

SF 3112A, for the Federal employee or Postal worker who is making a Federal Disability Retirement claim, is the pathway of creativity through the bureaucracy of the benefit known as Federal Disability Retirement. It is where the meeting, or the clash, between bureaucracy and creativity occurs.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

SF 3112A

OPM Standard Form 3112A: Applicant’s Statement of Disability:

The constraint of a standardized form, by its very appearance, is itself a self-evident anomaly of conformity; forms, by the very nature of their format, constrains and delimits the ability to respond.  Space is limited, and it is intended to be that way.

By mandating the completion of specific forms in an uniform, consistent, and universally standardized approach, the applicant who must complete the form must by necessity conform to the regulated approach. Further, the appearance itself often lulls the individual into a certain mindset, such that the response is constrained, limited, and by necessity of conservation of space and in attempting to answer the specific question queried, of brevity and devoid of critical details.

Bureaucracies create forms, and the regulations promulgated in the preparation and response to such forms. For the Federal and Postal employee who must by necessity file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or the Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS, the forms needed to be completed in order to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, are numerous, complex, and cumbersome.

Of the multiple forms which must be completed, the Federal and Postal employee must at some point encounter and face the most critical one of all: SF 3112A. The content of the form itself appears simple enough; the complexities inherent in the form is constituted almost by an endless array of a history of court decisions, opinions issued by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, as well as by OPM issuances of denials in thousands of cases.

Just by way of example, after the very first question asked upon requesting the applicant’s name, date of birth and SSN, it makes a simple but profoundly limiting statement: “We consider only the diseases and/or injuries you discuss in this application.”  That statement seems fair enough, and perhaps even reasonable.  The single word which is operatively significant, one would assume, is in the word “consider”.

But beware; for, it is the next-to-last word in the statement which is the onerous thousand-pound boulder which can fall upon the head of a Federal or Post Office Disability Retirement applicant, unless one is very, very careful. It is the word, “this”, and the consequences of such a word must be given great weight, and consideration beyond what the legal ramifications will later reveal.

Just a word of caution to the wise, for those who intend on jumping into the proverbial waters of bureaucratic complexities without first dipping a cautious toe into the lake of fire.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Narrative & the Audience

Anton Chekhov’s short story, “Grief”, is often accompanied by a subtitle, variously interpreted as, “To whom shall I share my grief?”  It is both about the need inherent in human nature to tell one’s story of grief, as well as the cold, unreceptive world which has no time to hear the story.

As the horse-driven cab picks up various passengers and fares, it becomes clear that the audience to whom the father’s grief must be told, is characterized as unfeeling and uncaring towards a man who has experience a tragedy in life.  It is thus the search for the proper audience — and how the narration must be told, in the right manner, at the proper time, within the appropriate setting.

That is how all stories must be told, including a Federal or Postal Worker’s statement of disability, as formulated on Standard Form 3112A in a Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  It is with a heightened sense of sensibility that one must put together the narrative form, with a view towards the audience; what facts and minutiae should be included; with a coherent beginning and an appropriate ending; where to begin and when to end; what details should be included, such that it does not divert one’s attention from the centrality of one’s story; all of this, and much more.

Chekhov teaches us much in his writings; how we apply it in our every day lives is left to the reader — his audience.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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