Ultimately, of course, a Federal Disability Retirement application under either FERS or CSRS is based upon a “human narrative” — delineating, describing and revealing (sorry — I could not think of an appropriate third word in this attempted alliteration which begins with the letter “d”) an individual’s story of one’s medical condition, the impact upon such condition upon one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, and the further impact upon one’s routine of daily living (yes, we tend to forget that third part on SF 3112A, which asks about how one’s medical condition impacts other aspects of one’s life).
Is it a story which “touches” someone at the Office of Personnel Management? If one reads enough of the denial letters from the Office of Personnel Management (and only an attorney who handles such cases would have access to denial letters other than the one which is addressed to a particular applicant), one begins to realize that the Case Worker at the Office of Personnel Management is merely applying a set of legal criteria in a mechanical, almost assembly-line like manner.
There is very little humanity involved in the review and determination by the Office of Personnel Management. Now, one may argue that there could not be “another way” of making a determination — for, to show human emotion, compassion, sympathy or empathy would be contrary to the mandate of “the law”, and that is probably true. One hopes, however, that the human narrative which is described in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability touches — in some way — such that it triggers a determination of approval based upon the law. This, because if it is merely “the law” which is applied by OPM, then that implies that one must “know the law”; and knowledge of the law is rarely shown, and even more rarely applied, by the Office of Personnel Management.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire