One would like to think that the Office of Personnel Management takes each case independently, reviews each case according to the merit of that particular case, and that, based upon a fair, independent and careful evaluation process, a decision is made for an approval or disapproval. When a decision from OPM reaches a Federal Disability Retirement applicant under FERS or CSRS, that applicant will see such a decision, and that decision alone. When an attorney who specializes in OPM Disability Retirement sees such a decision, it is clearly based upon a template, and after viewing thousands of such template-based decisions, a pattern begins to develop.
Templates are not in and of themselves a negative thing; one need not “reinvent the wheel” each and every time. It is only when a template does not “fit” a particular case, or where it is clear that a decision contradicts the substantive content of the disability retirement application or the documentary attachments, that there is any negative issue with a template. Fortunately, most OPM decisions are fair and properly evaluative; every now and then, however, it is evident that a template-driven decision has been issued without thought or fair analysis. That is when a true problem has arisen.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire