To the question: “What medical disabilities do you have,” is often the response in terms of a percentage language game: “The VA has given me a ____”; “My doctor rated me at____”. In the proper context, in the relevant process, such percentage ascription reflecting a numerical value may be workable, as well as persuasive. But in a Federal Disability Retirement application, where the persuasive essence of a well-formulated Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS is constituted by a discussion of the delineation of symptoms as opposed to numbers; physical and cognitive impact as opposed to quantitative value; such language is meaningless unless it is interpreted and translated in terms of the human impact upon one’s job functions.
That is not to say that the numerical value cannot be used; rather, it must be used with caution, and in a way that shows that, beyond the numbers, there is an essential impact in terms of one’s inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job. Thus, the “language game” of numerical values, while important in other filings and proceedings, may be of less significance in the formulation of a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire