The question is often asked concerning whether or not and to what extent other collateral agency decisions can impact a Federal Disability Retirement application filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), whether under FERS or CSRS.
The only answer which can be provided is the standard, “It depends…” The reason why “it depends” is precisely because utilization of any persuasive information or evidence is primarily dependent upon the persuasive efficacy of the evidence itself.
There is certainly legal case-law support for collateral evidentiary submissions, including SSDI, Department of Veterans Affairs ratings, Military Board findings, and DOL/OWCP second opinion and “referee” findings, etc. Thus, the issue is not whether or not there is a basis for using such third-hand sources to support the primary evidentiary foundation of a Federal Disability Retirement application; rather, the issue becomes one of how effectively should one use such evidence. Such a question, of course, can only depend upon the particular and unique circumstances of each case, by analyzing and reviewing the strength, applicability, and relevance of the documented information.
Sometimes, use of such collateral evidence can somewhat backfire, in that OPM will actually point to such evidence and discuss it in a way which supports a denial. Care and discretion must always be taken in using collateral information; it is always the primacy of the primary information which must be used, and used effectively.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire