While the Office of Personnel Management issues template approvals and denials, what must the individual applicant who receives such a template denial, do? Obviously, it cannot be a “template” response, because any response by an individual applicant is going to be an individualized response. Often, however, OPM’s response takes a shot-gun approach in denying a Federal Disability Retirement application — it uses every device in its template, touching upon every issue and sub-issue, without any apparent (or obvious) rhyme or reason. Whether purposeful or not, the extent and quantity of reasons for denial become almost insurmountable, and unable to “sort out”.
One thing that a Federal Disability Retirement applicant should not do, is to take the denial letter to his or her doctor to respond to. It will only confuse the doctor. Instead, the denial letter must be reduced to a comprehensible set of criteria which can be answered. Sub-sets of issues need to be identified and consolidated; the minor (but often irritating) references to peripheral issues, often touched upon but of no real consequence, must be ignored; and the focus must be placed upon the central 2 or 3 issues which seem to be the overriding concerns in the denial letter. In other words, the denial letter must be deciphered and extracted to be “made sense of”. Only then can OPM’s template denial letter be answered — with reason, aggressive attack, and a rational grounding in the law. In other words, irrationality must be met with clarity of mind.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire