Consistency, in addition to coherence, is an important element which must always be recognized and reviewed in filing an application for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS. Coherence of an application has to do with the element of “fitting all the pieces” together so that everything coheres in a rational, logical, and often sequential manner. Coherence often has more to do with form, than with substance. Consistency has to do with the substantive issues — the actually claims and statements made by a doctor; the opinions rendered in relation to the knowledge obtained; and whether everything “agrees” with everything else, in the very substance of the statements and claims made.
Inconsistencies are precisely what the Office of Personnel Management aggressively searches for, in determining the validity of a Federal Disability Retirement application. Coherence can often be ignored; indeed, in many Federal Disability Retirement applications filed without an OPM Disability Attorney at the First Stage of the process, I have often found that, when it has been denied and people come to me at the Second, Reconsideration Stage, that the application prepared by the applicant is almost entirely incoherent.
The narrative prepared is often illogical; the doctor’s report often takes a “shotgun” approach, without the coherence of a methodology of addressing the essential issues which OPM is looking for. Either by form or by substance, it is always better to have problems with form, rather than substance. But if you ask me, it would be “best” (good, better, best) if both form and substance are carefully prepared — meaning, that a Federal Disability Retirement application is both coherent and consistent.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire