The responsive statement often given is: Federal Disability Retirement is not a matter of merely filling out forms; if that were the case, anyone should be able to do it without an attorney. So, as in many gameshow forums, what is the question? Filing for regular retirement, or even early retirement, is a matter of filling out the proper and standard forms.
Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, while submitted to the identical agency (OPM) for “processing”, is a matter of proving one’s case. In order to prove one’s case, one must gather the substantive evidentiary documents; compile the relevant materials; make the proper “connections” and create the “nexus”; make the compelling and relevant legal arguments; and, yes, “fill out forms”. However, this latter act of filling out standard forms, as a prerequisite, while a necessary component of the entire administrative process, is not a sufficient act which constitutes a demand for an approval.
Thus, for a regular or early retirement, one may well argue that once the forms are filled out, one has satisfied both the necessary and sufficient components of what constitutes fulfillment of all obligations required for admission into the fraternity of Federal Disability Retirement annuitants.
For Federal Disability Retirement benefits, however, the additional requirement of proof by a preponderance of the evidence must first be satisfied. And for that, one must play the gameshow format of answering the critical, million-dollar question: What satisfies the standard of proof in order to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from OPM, whether under FERS or CSRS? The answer: It has already been given, only in a form of negation: Federal Disability Retirement is not a matter of merely filling out forms.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire