One must always have the proper mental preparation before engaging the administrative process of Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS.
First, one must understand that it is a benefit which is not an automatic entitlement, but rather a potential eligibility benefit — and, as such, one must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that one meets the entirety of the legal criteria for such eligibility. It is not a benefit where there is a simple trigger mechanism — e.g., one’s age, particular factual circumstances, etc. — which then automatically grants the entitlement to the benefit itself.
Second, as an administrative process, one must prepare for the full procedures involved — from the initial application stage, to a possible denial and a request for reconsideration; to a second denial, and an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (which, by the way, happens to be shut down because of the budget impasse but that may change today); and, beyond the initial appeal, an appeal to the Full Board of the MSPB, and even beyond that (for extraordinary cases), to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. Unless one is prepared to embrace the full administrative process, the ups-and-downs of emotional turmoil and lack of preparedness will wear you down.
And, finally, mental preparation must entail financial considerations — of what to do in order to survive during the long and arduous process. For, as an administrative benefit which must be proven, one should always understand that one must fight every step of the way.
Only with the proper mental preparedness will one be able to engage the fight to earn the right to such a benefit.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire