It is not a reflection upon the validity of one’s medical condition; a denial from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management can mean multiple things, not the least of which may include: insufficient proof failing to rise to the level of satisfying the preponderance of the evidence standard.
Federal Disability Retirement applications are compiled in a myriad of manners; yes, the standard forms themselves tend to compel a certain semblance of conformity, but ultimately the strength of a case will depend upon the supportive documentation attached, and here is “the rub”: there still exists the “human element” in the reviewing analysis of a Federal Disability Retirement application.
Yes, certain sets of legal criteria are applied (but who and how are they interpreted in their application?); and while satisfaction of the legal criteria is supposed to be determined by the general principle of “preponderance of the evidence“, who and what complies with meeting such a standard? How is such satisfaction determined? Such questions, of course, imply a human element in the administrative process of an OPM Disability Retirement review, and whether we like it or not, reveals an underlying connection to imperfection and fallibility.
There is no mathematical algorithm of mechanistic applications which will completely correct the underlying problems inherent in human review within the context of a bureaucratic process. Fortunately, however, the process itself contains a self-corrective device: different stages and levels of review, which allows for the Federal employee or the U.S. Postal worker to provide additional supportive documentation in order to reinforce and strengthen one’s Federal Disability Retirement case.
There are limitations, however, and that is why “corrective action” at the Second, Reconsideration Stage of the administrative process of Federal Disability Retirement is just that — it is to “correct” the mistakes, lapses and inherent lack identified in the original Federal Disability Retirement packet. The “limitations” are set by law, and are determined by how one characterizes one’s medical conditions in the Statement of Disability as perpetuated on SF 3112A.
Care should always be taken, of course, in the initial preparation of a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and before it is forwarded through one’s agency to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. But in the end, one must recognize that the entirety of the administrative process is one which involves multiple stages of a bureaucratic procedure, and the Second, Reconsideration Stage is merely another level of self-regulating refinement to ensure that the human element, including mistakes and misapplication of the law, is expunged to the extent possible, and instead, that the objective application of the law is uniformly dispensed in order to reach a statistically acceptable algorithm of fairness and impartial determination.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire