In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS & CSRS, one is often asked (and should also ask of one’s self) the following question: What does it take to be eligible? What proof proves my case? How much proof must I submit (quantity) and is the proof I submit sufficient (quality)? All of these questions fall under a generic rubric in law, termed as “burden of proof“.
Every legal process — and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS is no different — applies a legal standard: a set of criteria in determining whether or not a Federal or Postal Worker is eligible for — qualifies for — Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.
In applying a statutory set of criteria, there is the general application of what constitutes, or meets the needs of, the evidence, documents, and proof that is submitted for review. The overriding standard that is supposed to be applied for determining the process, is a standard of law called, “Preponderance of the evidence.” It is a relatively low standard used in civil law — where, if the proof submitted shows that it is more likely so than not so, then one has met “by a preponderance of the evidence” that a Federal or Postal employee is entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits.
Does this standard apply at the administrative level — at the Office of Personnel Management? The answer is “Yes”, but not necessarily consciously. One only effectively argues that the standard of proof has been met when one encounters a Judge — at the Merit Systems Protection Board. But, nevertheless, OPM is supposed to follow “the law” and the burden of proof, and it is simply one more argument that one can, and should, make to the Office of Personnel Management when filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under either FERS or CSRS.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire