The problem with possessing power is that it must be accompanied by truth, validity and rational foundations, if it is to be effective over the long term.
In filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, there is the process of proving one’s eligibility by meeting the burden of proof, termed as the “preponderance of the evidence“. A disagreement can occur during the process, in that the Representative from the Office of Personnel Management can deny the Federal Disability Retirement application.
Such a denial can occur twice at the OPM level — at the Initial Stage of the process, then at the Reconsideration Stage of the process. OPM possesses the power to approve or deny each Federal Disability Retirement application. Often, however, the denial itself fails to be accompanied by a rational discourse which strives to meet the high standards that a Federal Agency should always adhere to — guided by the truth and validity of any claims made in a denial letter. Too often, the discourse which is the basis of the denial merely regurgitates a series of template-like statements, and then the OPM denies the claim.
Fortunately, however, OPM is not the only Agency which makes the determination during the entirety of the process. After the second denial, it then loses its jurisdiction over a case, and an appeal can be made to the Merit Systems Protection Board.
The integrity of the entire process depends upon the independence of the MSPB in reviewing all such cases, and indeed, the Administrative Judges at the MSPB review each case carefully, with an open mind, and with the proper application of the law. Each Judge must render a decision which contains the rational basis of a decision, based upon precedents and statutory legal underpinnings. To have the full benefit of the process is indeed the basis of a system with integrity.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire