Whether fair or not; whether consistent or a lack thereof; the one who holds the power of determination ultimately has the authority of interpretation — until and unless a higher authority supersedes such power.
In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Federal or Postal employee can seemingly comply with all of the requirements of the laws and case-laws governing Federal Disability Retirement eligibility and entitlement, and still be denied.
The standard response on the telephone is often, “I thought I had a slam-dunk case…” But the problem with approaching a governmental bureaucracy is that one assumes (wrongly) that application of the law will be implemented in an interpretively consistent manner. But where individuals are involved, a multiplicity of interpretive approaches will surface.
Some OPM personnel will focus upon certain legal aspects over others; others will apply a “higher” bar of passage as to what meets the “preponderance of the evidence” test; and still others will be so obtuse as to refuse, or merely fail to, accept that when a doctor (for example) states that a condition is “permanent”, that such a statement logically entails and encapsulates the satisfaction of the requirement that a medical condition will last a “minimum of 12 months“.
How to respond to such inconsistencies? By reasserting the law; citing applicable case-law; by preemptively guiding OPM into approving one’s Federal Disability Retirement case.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire