After having formulated, prepared and filed a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, the period of long waiting ensues with the review process of the Office of Personnel Management (having survived the waiting process through the Agency).
At this initial stage of the application, the Federal or Postal applicant will be forced to wait (anxiously) for a decision by OPM. Thus, when the Office of Personnel Management makes a decision at the First Stage, and that decision is a “denial” of the Federal Disability Retirement application, there is a spectrum of possible responses — immediate, emotional, angry, frustrated, etc.
Instead, however, the proper response is to recognize that this initial denial is merely part of a greater process which involves many steps, procedures, responses and replies. Indeed, part of the reason why a Federal or Postal employee feels the pressure and anxieties is because one tends to view the application process as a “one-time” deal — where submission of an application should be reviewed by OPM and an approval is granted. This can be true — but should be viewed as merely an anomaly, and not the standard.
While having a Federal Disability Attorney prepare the application for Disability Retirement should increase the chances of an approval at any level of the process, it is nevertheless first and foremost a process involving multiple steps and stages, with potential pitfalls and denials throughout. Thus, a Federal Disability Retirement application may be initially denied, then responded to, then denied a second time at the Reconsideration Stage of the process, and require a further response.
Different denials require different responses, not because they are not all part of the same process (I know, the double negative gives one pause), but because each denial is given by different departments and personnel at the Office of Personnel Management. Remember, one must prove one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management, and proof means that there is the potential for an adversarial component of the process.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire