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.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire