At any extrapolated slice of a person’s life, the identity, character, narrative and personality of an individual is an incomplete description; but a description representing a particular period of a person’s life, together with the multiple preceding, intervening and subsequent sections, constitute the entirety of one’s “life story”.
In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, it is often difficult for the Federal or Postal employee to find, choose, and apply the “right words” in describing the medical conditions and how they impact one’s positional duties; then to further delineate the impact upon one’s personal life. For, everyone wants to tell “the whole story”, thinking that the narration of a fractured autobiography reflects an incomplete compendium of a greater complexity of truth. But from the perspective of the “other” — i.e., in this case, the case worker at the Office of Personnel Management — it is necessary to tell the anomaly of the incomplete complete story: a slice of life, incomplete in comparison to the totality of a person’s life, but complete in that it answers the questions posed on SF 3112A, and satisfies the legal criteria which forms the basis of an approval or disapproval.
A person’s life can never be captured by an incomplete narrative; and just as a semicolon is a grammatical indicator where the story is meant to continue, so the complexity of a person’s life story — encompassing value, truth and relevance in a world devoid of a teleological framework — can only be captured imperfectly in any Applicant’s Statement of Disability. The key, therefore, is to recognize the inability to tell a complete story; and, often, it is best if someone else tells the story for you.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire