Federal Worker Disability Retirement: The Exaggerated Applicant’s Statement

The preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application to the Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, is a paper presentation to OPM.  

Paper presentations are quite different from a personal appeal or an “in-person” presentation to a group of individuals, or to a singular audience, in the following ways:  With a paper presentation, the “audience” (in this case, the Office of Personnel Management Case Worker) has the opportunity to review the various aspects of a Federal Disability Retirement application, in order to evaluate, compare, contrast, and cite-check facts, legal authorities and internal documents.  

With that in mind, it is important in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application to strike a proper balance of tone, content, and narrative voice — and to make sure that the Applicant’s Statement on SF 3112A is accurate, without an appearance of exaggerated storytelling.

Think about it this way:  In describing an event, or a series of events, it is important to capture an audience’s attention by telling a “good story”.  But in telling a story, there is a natural difference of approach when telling it “live” to a person, and writing a narrative about it.  By “exaggeration” is not meant to necessarily imply stating an untruth; rather, credibility and believability is often based not upon the substance of a story (for truth is often of greater absurdity than fiction), but upon the conveyance and manner of the narrative voice.

Truth itself should always be the guide of one’s voice; one’s voice, however, must have the proper inflection and pitch, in making the delivery one of credibility and believability.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Extrapolating Carefully from “The Law”

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to recognize the major legal cases (those “landmark cases”) from which many other cases derive their foundational basis.  Such cases form the fundamental and overriding criteria of a legal arena, and this is no different in arguing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, either for Federal or Postal employees.  Furthermore, in citing a case to argue for one’s position of eligibility and entitlement, it is equally important to have read the cases carefully, and to argue the merits of an issue persuasively and accurately.  

One of the worst things that a lay, non-lawyer applicant can do is to mis-cite a case or a statute, and its meaning and ancillary conclusions.  For, when the Office of Personnel Management reviews a case and refutes a particular issue, and further points out that a legal precedent or statutory authority has been mis-applied, one’s credibility as to the substance of the application is not only undermined, but further, the viability of one’s legal argument has been subverted.  As such, it is normally advisable to leave the law to lawyers — and in Federal Disability Retirement cases under FERS or CSRS, to leave it to lawyers who specialize in the field. For, to do little or no harm to one’s self is certainly better than to saw off the branch which one has grasped onto, no matter how tenuous the position to begin with.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Credibility (Part I)

The credibility of the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (Standard Form 3112A both for FERS & CSRS employees) is crucial to obtaining an approval for a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Remember, first and foremost, that the personal pronoun “I” is being used — and should be used.  As such, one’s integrity and personal credibility is put to the issue.

While descriptive delineations of one’s symptoms are important, with appropriate adjectives to convey the extent of the subjective symptomatologies experienced, remember that exaggeration is the undermining element which can unravel a Federal Disability Retirement application, and ultimately reflect with harm upon one’s integrity and credibility.

Truth should always be the guiding principle; but perspectives are accepted in the conveying of such truth.  Remember that Pontius Pilate asked the famous question, “What is Truth”?  In asking the question, he never stopped to consider the answer; instead, he asked it in a rhetorical fashion, without regard to the truth.

Truth is important; being truthful is essential; and beyond this, correspondence of truth with the medical records and reports is the coherent package which will win in a disability retirement packet.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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Federal Disability Retirement Benefits for Federal & Postal Employees: Always the Initiator

In preparing, formulating and completing a Federal Disability Retirement packet under FERS & CSRS for the Office of Personnel Management, it is important to always be the initiator of all issues, real, implicit or potentially existing.  Nothing should ever be “hidden”.  To hide is to admit that something is wrong; to paraphrase a Shakespearean verse, to object too strenuously is to admit to something that you think needs objecting to.  Or, to put it in elementary terms, honesty is always the best policy

Aside from the obvious penalties for lying upon a Federal Application for Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, there is the practical reason:  rarely is an issue of such ominous importance that it would preclude a Federal or Postal employee from obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  Certainly, some issues can become temporary impediments; other issues — often relating to performance issues, misconduct during Federal Service, a perception that an employee did something “wrong” — will lead a potential applicant for Federal Disability Retirement benefits to “color the truth” in an application for Federal Disability Retirement.  There is no need.  Certainly, some issues need to be highlighted more than others, and other issues need to be left in the periphery; but openness is the best policy, and honesty is always the only avenue to success.  It is merely how you state it, that matters.

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Overstating and Understating

Overstating a case in a Federal Employee Disability Retirement case can have the effect of undermining the very credibility of the supporting medical documentation which is supposed to “prove” a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  It is similar to seeing a well-edited preview of a movie, where the scenes are cut-and-pasted to make it appear more exciting than the actual movie itself.  Then, when the viewer goes and sees the movie, it is a moment of sensory disappointment.  One does not want that same result to occur when the person at the Office of Personnel Management is reviewing your case. 

The inverse of that, of course, is understating a case.  This rarely happens, and even if it does, there is normally not a negative side to it — although, when I have taken over a case at the Reconsideration Level after an initial denial for an individual who attempted to file the application at the Initial Stage on his own, I found that there were numerous statements in the office/treatment notes that had been overlooked, and an older (but still relevant) evalualtion which had not been previously emphasized.  For the most part, an applicant for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS must strike a careful balance between the two opposites, and the tempering guide which should always be used is the medical report(s) itself.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire