To “walk in another person’s shoes” is a sentiment which attempts to foster empathy for the plight of another. We tend to believe that if the “other person” had an understanding of the entirety of one’s circumstances, that there would awaken an altered perspective.
“Feeling”, of course, is quite different from “knowing”, and thus do we have, in this era of modernity, that which is identified as one’s “emotional quotient”, as distinct from the traditional “IQ” criteria.
For the Federal or Postal employee considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the conceptual distinction between “feeling” and “knowing” is one which should be considered throughout the course of putting together one’s Federal Disability packet. For, it is ultimately a third party — a stranger in a gargantuan bureaucracy, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — who must be “touched” in order to approve one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.
What is said; how it is said; the compliance with the legal criteria applied; how persuasive; whether the emotive content follows and reinforces the factual delineations; and the extent of the logical nexus created between one’s Federal position and the medical condition suffered; all of these in their complex intersection and combination serve to create a picture of a person’s medical condition, and the impact of that condition upon one’s ability/inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.
One can approach the entire endeavor and simply say, “The only thing that matters is whether you meet the legal criteria or not”. On the other hand, you may consider that, as human beings are fallible creatures, and not mere automatons, there may well be an emotional quotient which must be factored in, and in order to tap into such a vast resource of non-objectivity, one must consider one’s words carefully; for, in the end, it is language which creates the picture, as in the very picture of “walking in another’s shoes”.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
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