Informational OPM Forms (SF 3107) versus Specific Content OPM Forms (SF 3112)

Categories are important in order to properly bifurcate, distinguish, identify and comprehend for effective satisfaction and completion. If such differentiated distinctions are not clearly understood, one can easily be lulled into responding to a specific-content question as if it is merely “informational” in nature.

Thus, for the Postal and Federal employee who is formulating responses to Standard Forms for purposes of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS, the sequence of preparing for completion in providing satisfactory answers is important.

OPM form SF 3107 (the “SF” stands for “standard form”) requests basic, factual information data, such as the applicant’s name, address, agency information, marital status, whether and to what extent one wants to elect survivor’s benefits, etc. The accompanying form, Schedules A, B & C, requests further information regarding military service, whether time in the military was bought back, as well as any OWCP claims previously or currently submitted or received, etc.

Then, in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, again whether one is under FERS or CSRS, the accompanying SF 3112 series must be completed and filed. One’s mental status and intellectual antenna, however, should immediately be placed on high alert when encountering and engaging the SF 3112 series of OPM forms. For, in this series of Standard Forms (SF 3112A, SF 3112B, SF 3112C, SF 3112D & SF 3112E), the distinguishing features should become immediately self-evident by the very nature of the questions queried. No longer are the forms merely requesting basic information; rather, interpretive considerations must be thoughtfully engaged.

Questions concerning one’s medical conditions; what medical conditions will be considered; whether one can later supplement the listing of medical conditions if further medical developments arise; whether there is room on the form itself for a full description and, if not, can a continuation of the form be attached; the impact upon the essential elements of one’s positional duties; what those essential elements are; and multiple other similar conundrums suddenly become presented, necessitating the switch from mere “information” to one of “specific content” directed by the change in the series of OPM forms from SF 3107 to SF 3112.

Paradigm shifts were made famous by Thomas Kuhn in his historically important work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. It is no less important to recognize that a paradigm shift is equally important in completing OPM Disability Retirement forms. While there is no book which guides the Federal or Postal employee, such as, “The Structure of Form-Filling Revolutions”, the identification and recognition that filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits requires an acuity of mind in filling out OPM forms, is an important step in reaching a successful outcome.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: A Distinction to Be Made

Lawyers are taught — whether at Law School, through observation as a young associate or “apprentice” under the wings of a seasoned attorney — to ask questions in a persistent, methodological manner.  Whether in “direct examination” or “cross examination”, the question asked is meant to be goal-oriented.

We often make the mistake, however, in concluding that the question asked constitutes something more than a question — that it contains some substantive value, intrinsic in the very intonation and deliverance of the question itself.  The question asked, must be distinguished from the answer given.  Thus, the mere fact that a question is asked, does not in and of itself contain any relevant evidence or substantive import.  It is in the answer given which must determine the content and context of relevance.

In a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, applied through one’s agency and ultimately submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, multiple and varied questions will be posed, indicated and conveyed to the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for the Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Such questions must be answered — and answered truthfully.  The questions themselves, however — whether posed in the Standard Forms which must be completed (SF 3107 & SF 3112 series for the FERS employee; SF 2801 and SF 3112 series for the CSRS employee); or in correspondence form from the Agency or the Office of Personnel Management; or by the Administrative Judge or the OPM Representative at an MSPB Hearing — should have a stream of consistency throughout the process.

This is normally a simple matter — but always remember that “truth” is distinguishable from “consistency”; and it is often the latter which creates some doubt as to the former.  Unfortunately, life is very rarely consistent. That is why a coordination and comprehensive outlook upon the entire administrative process, from beginning to end, must always be kept in mind.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire