Persuasion is a funny animal; when it is effective, success is determined by the reversal of an opponent’s viewpoint, but if it is ineffective, mere silence ensues, and unless prompted by subsequent queries, one never knows how close one came to persuading another and what further evidence or argumentation may have pushed the other side over the edge.
Then, of course, there is always the question of whether the opposing party is open to persuasion or not, and what are the conditions within which it may occur. The danger lies especially when an organization or bureaucracy has become so powerful or autocratic that it need not ever be persuaded because there are no consequences to being left unpersuaded.
The presence of outside safeguards is often necessary for persuasion to have its salutary effect, as a more obscure sense of “fair play” is often not enough to make a difference. All of this, of course, doesn’t even touch upon the substantive content of what constitutes a persuasive argument, as context is often just as important as content (anyone who has been married will immediately understand the truth of this statement).
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who have submitted a FERS Medical Retirement claim with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (also known for its acronym “OPM”) and have received an initial denial and must now respond to the denial at the Reconsideration Stage of the Process, “persuasiveness” becomes the battle cry in preparing the proper response.
OPM has all the time in the world in preparing its denial and needs little basis in its persuasive content. They merely need to have some minimal basis of reasons to issue a denial. On the other hand, the denied Federal or Postal applicant has (A) a very short timeframe in responding and (B) must advance a heavy burden of proof in order to overcome the denial, despite the often scatter-brained content of an OPM Denial.
Furthermore, in preparing a reconsideration Response, one should always keep in mind that the targeted audience is not just OPM, but the next stage in the event that OPM remains unpersuaded — that of the Admin Judge at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). That is why any response to an OPM Initial Denial should include a recitation of the relevant case laws discussing why your particular case meets the legal criteria for an approval.
As with spousal arguments and discussions around the Holiday dinner table, context matters as much as context when trying to persuade the other side. And also in preparing a persuasive response, you may want to consider consulting with a Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer specializing exclusively in FERS Medical Retirement Law.
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.