Lawyers are taught — whether at Law School, through observation as a young associate or “apprentice” under the wings of a seasoned attorney — to ask questions in a persistent, methodological manner. Whether in “direct examination” or “cross examination”, the question asked is meant to be goal-oriented.
We often make the mistake, however, in concluding that the question asked constitutes something more than a question — that it contains some substantive value, intrinsic in the very intonation and deliverance of the question itself. The question asked, must be distinguished from the answer given. Thus, the mere fact that a question is asked, does not in and of itself contain any relevant evidence or substantive import. It is in the answer given which must determine the content and context of relevance.
In a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, applied through one’s agency and ultimately submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, multiple and varied questions will be posed, indicated and conveyed to the Federal or Postal employee who is filing for the Federal Disability Retirement benefits. Such questions must be answered — and answered truthfully. The questions themselves, however — whether posed in the Standard Forms which must be completed (SF 3107 & SF 3112 series for the FERS employee; SF 2801 and SF 3112 series for the CSRS employee); or in correspondence form from the Agency or the Office of Personnel Management; or by the Administrative Judge or the OPM Representative at an MSPB Hearing — should have a stream of consistency throughout the process.
This is normally a simple matter — but always remember that “truth” is distinguishable from “consistency”; and it is often the latter which creates some doubt as to the former. Unfortunately, life is very rarely consistent. That is why a coordination and comprehensive outlook upon the entire administrative process, from beginning to end, must always be kept in mind.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire