Filing for a FERS Disability Retirement application is a long, arduous, and complicated bureaucratic process. Preferably, one would like to obviously be approved at the First (INITIAL) Stage of the Process. But these days as the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is not easily inclined to approve a case at the first stage, it is the Second (Reconsideration Stage) which is a crucial and important event in the process.
At the Reconsideration Stage, 2 important factors are presented: First, you have the chance to correct any alleged deficiencies which OPM points out, and; Second, and just as importantly, you can begin to prepare the way for an MSPB Judge to see the strength and coherence of your medical case. For, if OPM denies you FERS Disability Retirement benefits a second time, it will then have to be appealed to the Third Stage of the process — an appeal to the U.S Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
But as most opportunities are presented, the best way to approach this 2nd OPM Stage is to see it as a dual-purpose response: First as a response to OPM’s Denial, and concurrently, as a legal argument to the potential MSPB Judge.
Furthermore, what OPM never tells FERS applicants is that a further “reconsideration” — a re-reconsideration — will occur if OPM denies the case a second time and an appeal is filed to the MSPB.
This is because the OPM Legal Specialist who will represent OPM at the MSPB will automatically review the case in its entirety, and re-reconsider it anew from an entirely different perspective – that from a legally sufficient perspective — in the same way, that the MSPB Judge will view it.
This is because the MSPB is a legal forum and not a bureaucratic forum —which brings us back o the “second” point in responding to an OPM Denial at the Reconsideration Stage — not only to correct any alleged deficiencies pointed out by the Office of Personnel Management, but moreover, to make persuasive legal arguments which point to the legally sufficient cogency of your application.
Thus, the Reconsideration Response should always include a Responsive legal memorandum arguing the applicable case law in preemptively preparing for the MSPB. This not only prepares the way for arguing the merits of your case with the MSPB Administrative Judge but also gives a warning to OPM that your case will be legally invincible if and when it is appealed to the MSPB.
The best approach is to do things well from the very beginning, but even if your disability claim was already denied at the First Stage, for more reasons now, you need to contact a FERS Lawyer who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement law and prepare your disability case for the first appeal and reconsideration, but who also will assist you with the preparation of the “true reconsideration” stage — the re-review at the MSPB.
Robert R. McGill
Specialized attorney exclusively representing Federal and Postal employees to secure their FERS Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.