Legal conclusions are extraordinary conceptual constructs: without knowing the process of how one arrived at the conclusion, lawyers and others can utilize it to their flexible extreme without any contextual regard and argue with it on either side of a fence or, if there are more than two sides to a fence, those as well.
That is why, for instance, in a Federal Disability Retirement case before the Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, one cannot simply provide the Office of Personnel Management with an approval letter from the Social Security Administration showing that SSDI has been approved.
Such evidence, while in and of itself certainly shows that one is “disabled” from gainful employment — does not “prove” that one is eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS. Why? One would think that a higher level of disability determination would necessarily constitute a showing of all lesser eligibility criteria, but there can be the rare exception, and it is that rare exception which the law allows for in refusing to accept the legal conclusion as evidence and in place of the “process” evidence.
First, it could be that SSDI was filed for based upon different medical conditions than that filed for in the Federal Disability Retirement application. Or, it could be that the particular kind of job, with all of its essential elements, from which the Federal or Postal worker is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, is the one rare and exceptional work which can be performed, despite being totally disabled from all other jobs in the universe of employment. As such, the context and “process” of how one got to Point B from Point A is a necessary component in a Federal Disability Retirement application.
One must still submit the medical evidence which shows that the Federal or Postal employee is disabled from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job. While the conclusion of the journey is important, the process of how one got there is still relevant.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire