“What if” questions are rarely useful in applying the law, except in a preparatory manner for cross-examination purposes. No one likes surprises, and to prepare for every potentiality, eventuality, and “what if” scenario is a good idea — but only in a theoretical sense.
In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, the “what if” questions will inevitably arise — What if my Supervisor writes X? What if OPM asks Y? What if… ? The problem with “what if” questions is not in the asking of such questions (for asking them requires contemplation of a potential problem, which may propel preparation to an eventuality); rather, the problem occurs if one attempts to preempt a problem which may potentially exits but never realize its actuality.
If one preempts a non-occurrence, then what one has done is to wave a red flag and notify the Office of Personnel Management of the problem by bringing up the problem in the first place. That is often the very essence of the difficulties one finds in the preparation of the Applicant’s Statement of Disability, where the applicant fills out the SF 3112A as if it is a stream of consciousness opportunity to present to the Office of Personnel Management every problem known to man.
Preemption is fine for preparation; it needs to be answered and applied with great discretion.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire