Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: More than a Story

Re-reading Anton Chekhov’s famous short story, “Grief”, is instructive in multiple ways — the effective use of limited dialogue; creating of word-pictures which set the tone of the story; the metaphorical use of language; and the answer to the question, What makes a particular aggregation of words effective in their linear combination?  It is a very short narration of events, even for a “short story”.  Yet, as a classic piece of literature, it stands alone in its powerful evocation of the plight of man:  the need to relate human suffering, in its proper manner, in a particular way — so as to relieve the sufferer from the very essence of his turmoil.  To whom it is told, of course, is not important; how it is stated, is the point of the story.

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, both the “to whom” and “how” are equally important, and that is the difference and distinction from fictional prose.  The audience in a Federal Disability Retirement application must always be kept in mind — a Federal Government bureaucrat, who has seen many Federal Disability Retirement applications, whether under FERS or CSRS.

Like the passengers to whom Iona Potapov attempted to relate his story, the Claims Specialist at OPM will have a calloused view of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application — not necessarily because of an inability to empathize, but because any singular Federal Disability Retirement application will be merely one of thousands to view, and after time, the conglomeration of words simply spill over one into another.  As such, “how” the narrative portion of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application is told, becomes all-important.  The type of prose, of course, is far different than Chekhov’s fictional account of the suffering of a man; but the metaphorical use of language should be invoked where applicable, all the while understanding that being concise and conservative in choosing the right words is the most effective way of communicating.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Showtime

In old literary adage, one should always write in a manner which “shows” to the reader an event that is happening, a conflict unfolding, or a misery felt.  Entertainers never declare to one another, “It is Tell-time”.  Instead, we are all familiar with the singular phrase, “Showtime”.  For, one can “tell” a story, state facts, convey issues, etc., but the most effective tool in evoking empathy, sympathy and understanding from the reader, the recipient or the audience, is to “show” what is occurring.

Such conceptual efficacy also applies in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.  It is interesting how a focal point of an endeavor often calls for utilization of tools outside of the arena of specialty demanded; thus, it is not so much knowing administrative law which is necessary to prepare an effective narrative in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (Standard Form 3112A, both for FERS as well as for CSRS employees) — rather, it is the ability to engage in effective narrative prose.

The common literary refrains of repetitiveness, of descriptive word-usage, of choosing adjectives which flow and yet accurately describe the nexus between one’s medical conditions and the positional duties of one’s Federal or Postal job — these are all important in compiling an effective narrative of one’s medical condition and how it impacts upon one’s ability to perform one’s job.

While the doctor may present your case in a distant, clinical manner, the applicant himself/herself must evoke some semblance of understanding from the Claims Representative at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  Indeed, it is “Showtime”, but the showing must be accomplished in words, and the time to touch upon is the present moment, encapsulated in time and the narrative prose.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: “If Only They Understood”

Preparation of a paper presentation to the Office of Personnel Management must result in a product which is concise, effective and persuasive.  

The last term of the tripartite phrase, “persuasive”, is often the most difficult for the Federal or Postal employee, whether under FERS or CSRS, to objectively assess in a neutral, non-involved manner.  This is because the unrepresented Federal or Postal employee who attempts to prepare, formulate and file a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS is identical to the subject of the prepared application, and thus often has the approach and attitude of, “If only the case worker at the Office of Personnel Management knew what I am going through.”

Persuasion, the art of persuasion, and effective persuasion are comprised of a delicate balance between saying too little and overstating a case.  It is the ability to convey a state of facts which are confirmed by the medical records; involving a narrative which touches upon empathy, sympathy and a sense of pain or condition which the reader and recipient can somehow relate to; constrains ancillary issues which tend to detract from the central point of the narrative; and concludes with the idea that all of the “legal criteria” have been met.  

Obviously, it is through the power of words which such a persuasive Federal Disability Retirement application, submitted to the Office of Personnel Management, must be presented.  When the subject of the words is identical to the author of the words, the emotional turmoil is often mis-directed in the preparation of the Federal Disability Retirement packet.  

In the end, “if only OPM understood” — can become a reality if and only if the applicant understands first the objective legal criteria which must be met; then proceeds to meet those criteria in a systematic, detached manner; yet at the same time understanding the power of persuasion.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire