Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: A Bridge Too Far

The step-by-step process which the Federal or Postal employee must engage in for purposes of formulating an effective Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, is defined by the bridge, or “nexus”, which one must formulate, connecting the two separate entities:  on the one side are the medical issues; on the other, one’s positional duties which one has been engaging in and successfully performing all these many years for one’s agency or the U.S. Postal Service.  

The job of the potential Federal Disability Retirement applicant is to bring the two separate and distinct entities together, by preparing and formulating a connecting “bridge” or “nexus” between the two.  This is because one of the most important evidentiary showings that one must prove, by meeting the legal standard of “preponderance of the evidence“, is that the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s official positional duties.  

The problem with any such bridge which must be constructed and carefully formulated, however, is that many Federal Disability Retirement applicants put forth too much information, to the extent that some information may in fact defeat or otherwise damage the connection, by providing information which may be irrelevant (less damaging, but creates peripheral problems and confusion), of ancillary legal issues (may be more damaging, depending upon whether the Federal Disability Retirement applicant has brought in work-related issues which may point to a description of “situational disability”); or, provide information on certain medical conditions which contradict other information provided (again, often more damaging to a case).  

It is always important to provide enough information to the Office of Personnel Management to meet the burden of proof, of a preponderance of the evidence, in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application; too much information will sometimes be damaging; too much of the wrong kind of information may be very damaging.  As the title of the well-known book implies, one must be careful not to construct a “bridge too far”.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

1 thought on “Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: A Bridge Too Far

  1. James

    June 2008 owcp case I was injured exhausted all personal leave throughout the year trying to recover .May 2009 I was suspended 5 days charged for awol .August 2009 I was injured owcp case, the withdrawal of accommadations cause me to exhaust all my leave occupation med physican would not place me on medical leave,supervisor granted leave without pay then he started placing me on awol . June 2010 was removed from federal service for awol,Aug.2010 owcp 2nd opinion reveals permanent limitations and restrictions and unable to perform usual job without accommodations.I won EDD hearing for wage benefits. mspb petition for reveiw was electronically filed 5 days late by chief union rep. Aug. 2011I had filed pfr with fed cir court of appeal pro/se I filed on the merits of the case instead of the untimeliness.owcp ce said that i was only entitled to medical benefits filed ca-7 for lost wage earing capacity still waiting decision. I should of filed disability retirement it has been over a year and I was told that its too late.

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