OPM Disability Retirement: The Autobiographical Slice

Every story is unique.  Uniqueness is a characteristic of each human life story, precisely because there are no two sets of facts which are identical.  Assuming that parallel universes do not exist, the autobiographical details of each human story defines a distinctive and identifiably different set of sequential life experiences as to any given human narrative.  But uniqueness does not mean relevance, or even imply significance or of great interest.  The reason why the minutiae of the personal lives of the “rich and famous” are of such titillating interest is not because they are unique; rather, it is because they are distinctively different — in a voyeuristic sort of way.

In preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the autobiographical details should, for the most part, be left out.  As this author has often referenced Anton Chekhov’s famous short story entitled, “Grief”, it is a given that everyone wants to share the human narrative of one’s story, and more than that, to share it abundantly.  But it is the slice of one’s life, in a meaningful, relevant manner, which must be streamlined in order to ensure relevance and a focused audience — the very attention of the caseworker from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which must be provided.

Federal Disability Retirement is a specific submission; it is not the time to convey the unique story of one’s autobiographical details beginning in years past; rather, it must awaken the empathy of the reader — OPM — by the very hypnotic force of the medical conditions as they relate to one’s inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.

The human story in a Federal Disability Retirement case must be a compelling one, indeed, but within the context of uniqueness distinctively different from the boring autobiographies of mundane stars.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Genre of the Narrative

Different genres purportedly possess internal mechanisms and tools of the trade which distinguish one art form from another; thus, fiction writers use various forms which, in the eyes of the “professionals” will elicit oohs and aahs regarding the technical beauty which heightens the art form; biographers invoke poetic license in recreating scenes and human expressions and emotions from an omniscient vantage point; then, there is the admixture of truth and fiction, of “true crime novels” which are allegedly “true” but in novelistic form, easily readable, commercially successful, and universally enjoyed — but in essence, it all comes down to good writing.  

Readability is the whole point of writing.  Yes, to remain true to the art form is important to the genre; and, yes, to be technically proficient in utilizing the mechanisms and tools of the trade engenders professional acclaim and self-aggrandizement.  But ultimately it all comes down to the ability and capacity to express what one wants to, and needs to, in order to convey to the audience the desired effect.  

So it is in Federal Disability Retirement.  For, as in the various forms of literary genres, the narrative form must be engaging, readable, succinct and streamlined.  Salacious details need not be included to get the attention of the OPM case worker.  

A FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement narrative in the form of the Applicant’s Statement of Disability should be the penultimate form of the art:  part biography, part non-fiction, part logical analysis, and certainly analogous to the true crime fiction — that is the narrative which will draw the OPM case worker into the world of the Federal or Postal Worker who is trying to persuade a bureaucrat to have a spoonful of sympathy in exchange for a cup of truth.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire