It is a frustrating process when the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issues a denial and the Federal employee or Postal Service worker must respond effectively within a limited prescribed time. OPM has all the time in the world to prepare the denial letter, and will often take as long as they want in preparing a lengthy denial letter.
Once received, the denied Federal applicant has 30 days from the date of the denial to “Request Reconsideration” and will be granted 30 additional days beyond the time requested in order to submit any legal response and additional documentary evidence in support of your case. Then, within that prescribed time period, a response must be prepared and submitted.
It is this formulation of substantive responsiveness that will determine the future course of the next steps — whether a subsequent denial will require a further appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, or with approval of the application, the end of the bureaucratic process has occurred and the next frustrating phase of waiting for the payment department to begin issuing annuity payments will ensue.
As with all things with unlimited time on one’s hands, OPM will extract every word and phrase from doctor’s notes and office visits, take them out of context and interpret everything in favor of denial.
It is often an overwhelming process of a “shotgun approach” where OPM attempts to make it appear as though (A) You were ridiculous in even trying to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits and/or (B) what you had submitted previously was entirely insufficient and need not even be considered any further.
The net effect of the denial letter is to leave you with the impression that you should forget about the whole thing and just give up. Don’t be fooled by this tactic, because that is all that it is — a ploy to just convince you to give up.
Instead, break down OPM’s arguments into manageable categories, of which the two primary ones are: (1) lack of showing of a deficiency in performance, conduct, or attendance and/or (2) insufficient medical documentation. Then, attempt to gather any further documentation to reinforce those weak links and argue how the caselaw or statute is met with the additional supportive documents.
One other reminder: So long as you have met the timeframe of requesting reconsideration within that 30-day period, you have a chance at winning your case —so, make sure you file the request in a timely fashion. And, furthermore, you may want to contact an OPM Disability Lawyer who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law to help you formulate an effective response.
Robert R. McGill,
Lawyer exclusively representing Federal and Postal employees to secure their Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.