When a Federal Disability Retirement case has been denied by the Office of Personnel Management at the Initial Stage of the application process, and then again at the Reconsideration Stage of the administrative process, then it must be appealed to the Merit Systems Protection Board. At that stage, the applicant (with the help of his or her attorney) must meet some crucial dates.
While the Administrative process of having a Hearing before the Merit Systems Protection Board is fairly straightforward, once the Prehearing Statements are filed, it is important to participate in the Prehearing Conference with the Administrative Judge. At the Prehearing Conference, it is important to define and limit the issues which will have to be proven at the Hearing of the case. Issues such as accommodations and even the extent of the medical conditions which impact one’s inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, can be clearly defined. The individual (but more likely the attorney — because at this level, it is helpful to have the guidance of an attorney) should be very familiar with entirety of the Agency file (a copy of which OPM is required to provide after an appeal is filed with the MSPB). This way, during the conversation with the Administrative Judge, one can say: “Yes, Your Honor, that is already proven by document at Tab ____ of the Agency file, and need not be re-proven at the Hearing of the case.” As with everything in life, preparation, preparation, preparation…
Robert R. McGill, Esquire