Content is all important; quality of content, all the more so. When a U.S. Federal or Postal employee under FERS becomes “disabled” under the definition of 5 C.F.R. 844.102, multiple and often complex “Standard Forms” must be completed. Standard Form 3112A, Applicant’s Statement of Disability, is one of them. The form itself is comprised of a single page, and the three primary questions appear simple. It is the appearance of simplicity, however, that traps the unwary. What seems to be nothing more than what the surface reveals, we too often accept at face value and charge forward without caution.
Question 4 of SF 3112A asks the Federal or Postal employee to “Fully describe your disease(s) or injury(ies.) We consider only the diseases and/or injuries you discuss in this application”. Simple enough? Be careful of the two (2) “operative” words which are encased within the two sentences — “Fully” and “only”. The wrong way to approach it is to quickly list what you “think” your medical conditions are; for, how do you know whether they agree with what your doctor has diagnosed? Will you be able to later modify or add to your answers? What if what you say doesn’t quite “match up” with what your doctors have stated?
These, and other questions must be answered before a Federal or Postal employee commits to words upon paper — in other words, not just the content itself, but the quality.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire