SF 3112A

OPM Standard Form 3112A: Applicant’s Statement of Disability:

The constraint of a standardized form, by its very appearance, is itself a self-evident anomaly of conformity; forms, by the very nature of their format, constrains and delimits the ability to respond.  Space is limited, and it is intended to be that way.

By mandating the completion of specific forms in an uniform, consistent, and universally standardized approach, the applicant who must complete the form must by necessity conform to the regulated approach. Further, the appearance itself often lulls the individual into a certain mindset, such that the response is constrained, limited, and by necessity of conservation of space and in attempting to answer the specific question queried, of brevity and devoid of critical details.

Bureaucracies create forms, and the regulations promulgated in the preparation and response to such forms. For the Federal and Postal employee who must by necessity file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal employee or the Postal worker is under FERS or CSRS, the forms needed to be completed in order to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, are numerous, complex, and cumbersome.

Of the multiple forms which must be completed, the Federal and Postal employee must at some point encounter and face the most critical one of all: SF 3112A. The content of the form itself appears simple enough; the complexities inherent in the form is constituted almost by an endless array of a history of court decisions, opinions issued by the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, as well as by OPM issuances of denials in thousands of cases.

Just by way of example, after the very first question asked upon requesting the applicant’s name, date of birth and SSN, it makes a simple but profoundly limiting statement: “We consider only the diseases and/or injuries you discuss in this application.”  That statement seems fair enough, and perhaps even reasonable.  The single word which is operatively significant, one would assume, is in the word “consider”.

But beware; for, it is the next-to-last word in the statement which is the onerous thousand-pound boulder which can fall upon the head of a Federal or Post Office Disability Retirement applicant, unless one is very, very careful. It is the word, “this”, and the consequences of such a word must be given great weight, and consideration beyond what the legal ramifications will later reveal.

Just a word of caution to the wise, for those who intend on jumping into the proverbial waters of bureaucratic complexities without first dipping a cautious toe into the lake of fire.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

SF 3112 and SF 3107

Advice and instructions for OPM Disability Retirement Forms:

SF 3112:  In Connection With Disability Retirement Under the Civil Service Retirement System or Federal Employees Retirement System

SF 3107: Application for Immediate Retirement (Also needed by Federal and Postal Employees applying for Immediate Medical Retirement)

Standard Forms tend to require tailored responses.  That is precisely what it is meant to do.  The very appearance of a Standard Form, or of any forms provided and required by the Federal Government, is intended to specifically contain and constrain responses, as well as an attempt to target a wide range of the population of ages and education groups.  What statutes, laws and regulations were promulgated by the formulation of the form; the history behind the legislative intent of the form; the extent of court cases, issuances of judicial or executive opinions — all form a compendium of the background in the final issuance of the form itself.

That is why the simplicity of the form itself is often misleading; as with all of literature, philosophy, theology and the countless disciplines indicated by the suffix of “ology”, it is the creativity of the complex manifested by the uncomplicated form which produces an appearance of simplicity from that which is complex.  Thus are we harkened back to the age-old question of Plato’s acknowledged differentiation between “Form” and “Appearance”, or of Aristotle’s fundamental distinction between substance and accident, in describing the entity or “Being” of a thing.  Forms, whether they be government forms or Platonic entities in the ethereal world, have a similitude not only in designation, but in the reality of our complex and complicated universe.

For the Federal or the Postal Worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, the initial encounter with OPM forms in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, can be a daunting engagement.  The Federal or Postal Worker need not know the history of philosophy, or the references to platonic forms; but one should certainly be fully aware that there is an important distinction to be made between substance and appearance.

The initial encounter with an OPM form in preparing one’s Federal Disability Retirement application, will bring one in contact with the SF 3107 series, as well as the SF 3112 series of forms.  Issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (thus the acronym of “OPM”), both series of SF 3107 and SF 3112 have a long history of statutory, regulatory and legislative history. The Federal and Postal employee may be unaware of such a long history in the development of SF 3107 and SF 3112A; such lack of knowledge, however, already purposes an advantage to the Federal agency, to the detriment of the Federal and Postal Worker. But then, that is the whole purpose of keeping hidden that which constitutes the reality of Being, as in the ethereal Forms identified by Plato throughout his writings, in contradistinction to the appearance of things, which rarely represents the reality of what is going on.

Thus, a word to the wise: Do not let the simplicity of SF 3107 or SF 3112 series of OPM forms mislead you into thinking that the process of obtaining Federal & Postal Disability Retirement benefits is an easy path to travel.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire