The narrative we write tells much about ourselves. That is quite an obvious statement. What is not obvious, however, is the discretion we apply, the self-restraint we reveal, and the manifested fences we install through invisible means of editing and erasing.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal Service employee is under FERS, CSRS of CSRS Offset, the importance of the narrative we write in response to the queries on SF 3112A (“Applicant’s Statement of Disability”) is merely but a condition-precedent of the foundational evidence we must submit to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Each story is different, and should be guided by the medical evidence amassed, the experience of one’s disability and the perspective of one’s encounter with the essential elements of the position one occupies in the Federal workforce or the Postal craft one is required to engage.
Narratives comprise the coattails of human experience; they never can tell the whole story, and the reader of such a story will never be able to embrace the fullness of the information provided. One person’s experience is but another’s mystery untold, and the nexus that the Federal and Postal Disability Retirement applicant must establish is a threefold one: Between the medical condition and the essential elements of one’s job; and between the latter two and the person who will be reading the narrative at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
How can I do that? – is the query most asked, as you will never meet, know or discern the person at OPM. By making the narrative compelling and “alive”. Thus should you restrain from meandering; of getting to the point and not creating an endless maze of directionless misguidance; and as discretion is the better part of valor (does that pithy saying have any consequential meaning, anymore?), so choosing the fact-scenarios to include is an important component of the information to impart.
Tangents can get you into trouble; overreaching, a re-evaluation and a second look; and inconsistencies in statements may provide for a selective extrapolation of targeted analysis. The narrative we write should always tell the story of the experiential phenomena relevant to the subject at hand: The applicant’s statement of disability, in the context of the law, and within the confines of how it impacts, prevents and touches upon the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job. Simple; concise; answering the questions by relevant application; and always, always, with an emphasis upon the medical conditions.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire