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 Worker Disability Retirement: The Exaggerated Applicant’s Statement

The preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application to the Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is a paper presentation to OPM.  

Paper presentations are quite different from a personal appeal or an “in-person” presentation to a group of individuals, or to a singular audience, in the following ways:  With a paper presentation, the “audience” (in this case, the Office of Personnel Management Case Worker) has the opportunity to review the various aspects of a Federal Disability Retirement application, in order to evaluate, compare, contrast, and cite-check facts, legal authorities and internal documents.  

With that in mind, it is important in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application to strike a proper balance of tone, content, and narrative voice — and to make sure that the Applicant’s Statement on SF 3112A is accurate, without an appearance of exaggerated storytelling.

Think about it this way:  In describing an event, or a series of events, it is important to capture an audience’s attention by telling a “good story”.  But in telling a story, there is a natural difference of approach when telling it “live” to a person, and writing a narrative about it.  By “exaggeration” is not meant to necessarily imply stating an untruth; rather, credibility and believability is often based not upon the substance of a story (for truth is often of greater absurdity than fiction), but upon the conveyance and manner of the narrative voice.

Truth itself should always be the guide of one’s voice; one’s voice, however, must have the proper inflection and pitch, in making the delivery one of credibility and believability.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire