In any administrative procedure, the use of legal tools and citations may be of limited efficacy for the process itself; it is, however, building a foundation for future application, and to that extent it provides a fair warning to the agency.
Inasmuch as any portion of obtaining an entitlement or meeting an eligibility requirement engages the applicant with a faceless bureaucracy — and one which recognizably is filled with non-lawyers, clerks, etc. — there is always the question as to why an attorney is necessary at the administrative level of adjudication.
The reason is simple: the non-lawyer governmental worker, while perhaps not fully appreciative of the legal citations which may be argued in a particular case, is nevertheless aware of the consequences of failing to acknowledge the validity of such references. Being audited and finding that a particular case worker has a high percentage of cases denied, then reversed on an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board, has an impact upon the agency worker.
Furthermore, building a foundation for future reference before an Administrative Judge — where the Judge turns to the agency’s representative and asks, “Well, how about Case X, which has already been cited by the Appellant?” — can be quite effective and often short-cuts the entire process.
For Federal and Postal Workers who are attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, the effective use of legal tools and citations is crucial at all levels — if only to warn OPM of the consequences of having to go before an MSPB Judge for further adjudication of the case.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire