OPM Disability Retirement: In a Perfect World

Becoming distracted from the essential focus of an activity is a problem which we all face. In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, it is easy to become overly focused upon what the Agency is doing, will do, or potentially might engage in, which could somehow (it is thought) impact one’s Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  

In a perfect world, the administrative process would proceed in a sequential, logical and methodological manner.  However, this is not a perfect world, and at each step of the long, administrative process, there are always glitches and temporary hold-ups.  The Agency often takes its time; the supervisor may make some statements which appear contrary to facts; OPM may require additional medical evidence, despite everything that needs to be filed for an approval having been submitted, etc.  

The Office of Personnel Management is a paradigm of an imperfect world.  It is an agency which has the power to be the sole arbiter of a Federal Disability Retirement application, for all Federal and Postal employees, and that power is indeed one which can determine the economic future of thousands of Federal and Postal employees.  

Making the distinction between peripheral and ancillary issues, and separating them from the essential components of what constitutes the important aspects of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS will help in the process.  Recognizing that this is far from a perfect world will help to ease the strain of the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Getting Lost in a Morass

At each step in the administrative process of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, including any responses to denials from OPM in order to qualify for the subsequent stage of the process (i.e., a Request for Reconsideration must be filed within thirty (30) days of the denial; an appeal must be filed with the Merit Systems Protection Board, etc.), there is always the danger of becoming lost in the morass of peripheral issues, often resulting from a sense of panic upon an initial reading of correspondence received.  

Thus, whether it is a letter from the Office of Personnel Management for additional medical documentation; a decision of denial at the Initial Stage of the Process; a second denial from the Office of Personnel Management — it is important to have a sense of how one must extract the essential points which must be addressed, and refuse to respond in a reactionary, ineffective manner.

Compiling an immediate response based upon an initial reading is normally a waste of time.  Verbiage which takes up space on a page of paper does not in and of itself mean that it requires a substantive response.  Much of what the Office of Personnel Management states can be summarized in a couple of sentences, once all of the ancillary issues are set aside.  

Further, it is more often the case than not, that what the Office of Personnel Management states as the requirements of “the law” is simply wrong.  OPM is rarely up-to-date on the current case-law as handed down by the Merit Systems Protection Board or the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. Compliance with the law is one thing; compliance with the wrong law and an erroneous interpretation of legal requirements is quite another.  

To panic is to remain in a morass; to re-review the legal requirements in the administrative process of applying for, and becoming eligible for, Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, is essential to the road to success.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire