In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, there are multiple discretionary decisions which must be made in preparing a paper presentation to the Office of Personnel Management. For instance, should determinations made by Second-Opinion or Referee doctors in a case which concurrently involves OWCP issues be included in the submission? Should VA ratings be part of the packet? Should determinations by a private disability insurance company be included? Should a determination by the Social Security Administration — which often will come about when the packet has already been submitted to the Office of Personnel Management while awaiting a decision — be forwarded to OPM?
In proving one’s eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, one must affirmatively prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that one is eligible for the benefit. That leaves much of the decision-making process regarding what information is relevant, helpful, pertinent and substantive, up to the Federal or Postal employee and/or his attorney to decide. There are multiple details, and it is often in the minutiae and details which will win or lose a case. Should all medical conditions be made a part of the packet?
These are all discretionary issues to be decided, with the possible exception of Social Security. Inasmuch as SSDI must be filed, and inasmuch as the statutory mandate is that SSDI and a FERS Disability Retirement annuity must be offset if both are approved, an approval by SSDI is a special case which is non-discretionary. Not only must OPM be informed of its approval; under the case-law, it must be considered in the process of deciding upon a Federal Disability Retirement case. Nevertheless, it still remains merely persuasive authority, and not determinative.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire