Tag Archives: connecting the dots in the applicant’s statements of disability

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.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: SF 3112A, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability

Each genre retains its own internal customs, traditions and acceptable characteristics which, in their idiosyncratic ways, defines for itself why the specific genre is distinctively different from another.  Content, length, volume, and literary mechanisms may be acceptable within certain defined parameters; a recent biography by Edmund Morris attempted to utilize a literary artifice which, by most accounts, was not well-received within the genre.  

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one must first and foremost understand the “audience” to which the Federal or Postal employee is “writing” to, and thereby custom-fit the “genre” of the writing.  

The reviewing clerks at the Office of Personnel Management have dozens, if not hundreds, of files from Federal and Postal employees.  At the First and Reconsideration stages of the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM, the reviewing clerks must sift through the case-file by analyzing the medical documentation submitted, and most importantly, the Applicant’s Statement of Disability as reflected in SF 3112A.  A Dickens-like autobiographical background is not needed, and will likely be ignored.  A mere listing of the medical conditions, while short and to the point, will likely be insufficient.  Thus, the old adage:  neither too hot, nor too cold.  Somewhere in the middle is the proper “genre” to apply.  

As for the specific characteristics of an effective submission, a general comment:  Stay on point; connect the dots between one’s medical conditions and the positional requirements; and don’t bore the reader.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Respites

Preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management — if one is a current employee of one’s agency or the U.S. Postal Service or, if separated but it has been less than thirty one (31) days since the separation, then the application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits must be processed through one’s agency; if, on the other hand, you have been separated for more than 31 days, then you must file the application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits directly to the OPM intake office in Boyers, Pennsylvania, which will then be processed and forwarded to the main U.S. Office of Personnel Management in Washington, D.C. — is a process which one should expect will require considerable energy, involving one’s emotional physical, and mental fortitude.  

Filing for the benefit and involving one’s self in the process of the administrative procedure, is rarely — if ever — merely a matter of “filling out forms“.  Yes, there are Standard Forms to be completed (the SF 3107 series for FERS employees; for CSRS employees, SF 2801 series; and the SF 3112 series for both FERS and CSRS employees) — but it is the “connecting of dots” between preparing one’s narrative in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, the gathering of the medical documentation sufficient to meet the burden of proof of “preponderance of the evidence”, and all of the attendant actions which accompany the creation of the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional requirements of one’s duties — all of the cumulative aggregation taken as a whole, constitute an imposing, formidable process.  

Fortunately, the Holidays, the weekends, etc., provide a brief respite from such challenges.  But the problem with such periodic and temporary respites, are that they merely serve to remind us that the hurdle still exists, and the process is still to be encountered, and the procrastination of the inevitable must be confronted at some point; and that, in and of itself, is an exhausting thought.  Medical Disability Retirement from OPM is precisely there is provide a long-lasting respite. Delaying by periodic respites only prolongs the time when the true respite, of meaningful duration, may be embraced.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire