In every legal writing and oral argument, there is an appropriate time and context for precision, and times when wide discretion must be used in allowing for additional evidence and argument to remain effective. Recognizing and identifying which approach must be applied is the first step to effective advocacy; maintaining the flexibility when appropriate, and constraining the precision for all sides, is often a key to winning.
For Federal Disability Retirement law, whether under FERS or CSRS, the key in applying the applicable case-law, the meaning of the ruling of the court or administrative issuance, while keeping open and flexible the statement of one’s disability, is an important part of the entire process.
To “paint oneself into a corner” in one’s Statement of Disability is often a problem, where subsequent medical conditions arise but one cannot supplement or support such conditions because one was inappropriately precise (or unduly succinct) in the descriptive narrative of one’s statement; or, conversely, being vague about the importance, relevance or applicability of a certain holding in a precedent-setting case; these are all mistakes which should be avoided.
In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal or Postal Disability Retirement case, submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the context often drives the content; where precision is called for, technical knowledge must be applied and the terms of art must be inserted; where linguistic flexibility is required, the artful weaving of wiggle room must be allowed, in order for the air to circulate, and for the chameleon of appearance to change as circumstances require.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire