Words are peculiar animals; they are meant to convey meanings through stringing together, creating conceptual models, images, descriptive thoughts. Thus, one would think that the greater quantity of words would lead to a greater level of thoughts conveyed, images created, etc. However, what often happens (a commond mistake found in unrepresented applicants who file for disability retirement under FERS & CSRS) is that there is a ‘fatigue factor’ by the reader: in this case, the reviewing person at the Office of Personnel Management. People often either overstate his or her medical disability, or tend to think that pages and pages of a stream-of-consciousness narrative about one’s medical conditions will persuade the reviewer of the seriousness of the medical condition. Neither are necessary. Let the medical condition itself speak to the seriousness. The applicant does not need to overstate it; and a voluminous narrative only points out and emphasizes a suspicion that there is some underlying reason as to why you feel the need to explain yourself so much. Use of words is a ‘balancing act’ — using the right words; explaining the right amount; creating the right string of thoughts and images. An effective disability retirement application must find the right balance of all of these elements.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire