OPM Disability Retirement Help: Different Standards

To overdress is almost always acceptable; to underdress — well, while it may be acceptable, you may have to endure being the subject of curiosity and quiet whispers of raised eyebrows.

There are different standards for every occasion, endeavor, event or engagement; some high, others low; a few enforced without exception while still maintaining a sense of decorum and the rest of them left to ignored apathy where anything goes.  Some private clubs seem to thrive upon the exclusivity of standards maintained so high that few can meet the exceptionalism applied, while those more accessible to the public allow for flagrant violations with nary a nod or a wink.

It is when the context becomes the content that eyebrows become raised, and the higher the brow the more exclusive the thinking.  For the rebel, it is always difficult to try and convey the notion that one must adapt and change with the circumstances — that standards are applied, and you must recognize those standards and act accordingly.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from a medical condition such that the standards set have now failed to be met — whether at the personal level or the professional — it might be time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

Whether through a recognition of the standards set for yourself — which is often higher than what is acceptable by others — or because you are beginning to get the hints that your agency or the Postal Facility has become dissatisfied with your work performance, your attendance or excessive use of sick leave; whatever the reason, the plain fact is that the medical condition itself is always the basis for determining the need to alter and modify one’s personal and professional standard.

Don’t be too hard on yourself.  The standard you used to apply before the onset of a medical condition should not be the same one that is applied to your present situation, and you should therefore consider that the standard of maintaining one’s health is the present priority exclusively, no matter what your Federal Agency or your Postal Facility tries to have you believe.

Consult with an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law, and determine whether you “meet the standards” to apply for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.  They may be different than what you think.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: OPM’s Standard of Proof

In reviewing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, the mandate of burden is determined both by statute and regulation, and the Merit Systems Protection Board reiterates the burden of proof in each of its decisions — that of proving one’s case by a “Preponderance of the Evidence“.  

This is a relatively low standard of proof — of showing that one is eligible and entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS based upon a showing that, with all of the evidence considered, it is more likely than not that the Federal or Postal employee has shown that he or she cannot perform, because of one or more medical conditions, one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  

There is often a question as to whether this same standard of evidentiary showing applies to the Office of Personnel Management, and this question is posed because of the statements made in many of the denial letters (which then prompts a necessary request for Reconsideration, or an administrative appeal to the 2nd Stage of the process; or, if denied at the 2nd Stage — the Reconsideration Stage — then an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board) issued by the Office of Personnel Management, to wit:  The evidence you submitted did not show a “compelling” reason why you could not…; The medical evidence did not show that you had to be “excluded from the workplace completely”; and other statements which seems to require a higher showing than that of “preponderance of the evidence“. 

OPM is supposed to follow the same standard of proof — that of preponderance of the evidence.  Sometimes, they need to be reminded of it.  

However, inasmuch as the safety mechanism for review of an improper standard is an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board, such a reminder often must take the form of an appeal.  Without the appeal basis, the Office of Personnel Management can ignore the relevant statutory burden of proof.  But then, that would not be the first time that an agency acted in a non-compliant manner.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire