Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Misreading the Law

As the old adage goes, a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.  The Bruner Presumption is one of those legal tools which is often misunderstood and misapplied. The legal presumption stems from a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals opinion which basically declared (among other things) that when a Federal or Postal employee is separated from Federal Service for his or her medical inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, that there is a “presumption” that the Federal or Postal employee is entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management.  

Does this make it a certainty that one will receive an approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application from the Office of Personnel Management?  No. Does it enhance the chances of obtaining an approval from the Office of Personnel Management?  Maybe.  

One must remember that the Office of Personnel Management, at least for the first 2 stages of the process, does not assign attorneys as Case Managers to review a Federal Disability Retirement application.  As such, relying too heavily on the “Bruner Presumption” would be a mistake.  Further, to wait for the agency to terminate you based upon your medical inability to perform your job so that you can argue that you “have the Bruner Presumption” would be foolhardy.  It is a legal tool.  In order to use it, you must apply it in the right manner.  It would be like using a screwdriver to open up a can of peas.  As another old adage goes:  “Leave it to the professionals“. 

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Changes

Changes in life occur at critical times, and whether the critical time-period is determined by the medical condition, or other events, what is always important is to take the affirmative steps yourself, as opposed to waiting for events to spiral out of control.  Rarely should one await for the Agency to “do something” which is advantageous to one’s situation.  In filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, it is important to always be the one to take the lead on everything — from obtaining the proper medical documentation, to ensuring that the Agency is completing their portion of required forms, to making sure that a Federal Disability Retirement packet is fully and completed formulated, such that it will prove one’s case by a preponderance of the evidence and meet the legal criteria for an approval.  Time is of the essence in each Federal Disability Retirement case, especially when time conspires against one’s own interests.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire