In making a decision on a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS, the Office of Personnel Management has a policy which essentially refuses to convey the decision over the telephone, and asks that the applicant wait until the letter of approval or denial is received by the applicant. This is probably a sound policy, despite resulting in a few more days of additional waiting, testing the patience of the Federal or Postal employee who is anxious in anticipation of a favorable decision.
The problems which could potentially be compounded and exponentially multiplied by an erroneous or contradictory communication between what the OPM worker states over the telephone, and what the decision made by the Claims Representative who is handling the particular case of the inquiring individual, would (and potentially could) unnecessarily complicate matters.
One assumes that what the Office of Personnel Management is attempting to avoid, aside from privacy concerns of not being able to adequately identify the person on the other end of the telephone, is the potential scenario where the Federal or Postal applicant has been denied in his or her Federal Disability Retirement application under either FERS or CSRS, but is told over the telephone that he or she has been approved, or vice versa.
Beyond that, however, it is a reasonable policy to have by any Federal agency — for protection of confidential information which only the Federal or Postal employee/applicant and his or her representative attorney should have access to. While a few more days may indeed increase the anxiety level of the applicant, it is well to try and understand that such a policy of not revealing information to someone who has not been properly identified, is one which the Federal or Postal employee should not get upset with OPM about.
There are enough issues to be upset with OPM about; protecting the privacy of confidential information is not one of them.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire