You are invited to read the articles I have recently written concerning various aspects of the Federal Disability Retirement process in the following websites: FedSmith, EzineArticles, Postal Reporter, or you can visit and view my new blogs (updated daily) on Federal Administrative Law at Lexis Nexis’ Lawyers.com.
Then, call me for a free telephone consultation to discuss the specifics of your OPM Disability Retirement case at 1-800-990-7932.
I am an attorney who specializes in Federal and Postal disability retirement law under FERS (and for those remaining under the old system CSRS). I have been successful at all levels of the Federal Disability Retirement Application process — from the initial submission of the application; to the Second Stage of appeal — the “Request for Reconsideration” Stage; to the final stage of appeal, before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
OPM — the acronym standing for the “U.S. Office of Personnel Management” — is the Federal Agency which receives and reviews all disability retirement applications filed by a Federal or Postal employee under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or the older system of CSRS. OPM Disability Retirement is a benefit granted to all Federal and Postal Employees who meet the criteria of “Disability”. By “Disability”, however, does not mean that you must be completely physically or mentally incapacitated; rather, it means that you are no longer able to provide effective service in one or more of the essential elements of your job. As such, you do not need to be “totally disabled” in order to be eligible for Federal or Postal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS. Unlike Social Security Disability, the evidence which must be submitted does not require a showing of “Total Disability”, but rather, that the Federal or Postal employee must be unable to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal position of record. Thus, while the standard of proof in order to become eligible for Federal Disability Retirement is somewhat lower, the inherent complexities involved require the expertise of a Federal Disability Lawyer — one who specializes exclusively in Federal Disability Retirement Law.
The Office of Personnel Management carefully reviews all applications for Federal Disability Retirement. It is a benefit which should be looked upon as an entitlement and an investment. Consequently, any Federal Employee intending to file for Federal Disability Retirement should seek the advice and counsel of an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law. This is a specialized field, and a “general practicing attorney” will normally be completely unfamiliar with the complex bureaucratic process which is involved in Federal Disability Retirement Law. I am an attorney who devotes 100% of my practice to representing Federal and Postal employees to obtain a Federal Disability Retirement annuity.
The process of filing a Federal Disability Retirement application is complex for a number of reasons, including: The evidentiary criteria to be met is unlike other processes; the case-laws which support a Federal Disability Retirement are legally specific to this specialized area of law; the complications which can arise from issues concerning accommodations and reassignment are unique within this specialized field of law; and multiple other issues which must be addressed in preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.
I am an attorney who exclusively specializes in the legal practice of Federal Disability Retirement. I am a “known quantity” in Federal Disability Retirement Law, and my specialized expertise is as a Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer. I have an extensive background in trial practice, which comes in handy if a Federal Disability Retirement application must be appealed to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board — the Third Stage of the process. Each stage of the process must be prepared meticulously. The Stages that are potentially involved are the following:
First (initial) Stage: This is the crucial stage where careful, meticulous precision in the preparation of a Federal Disability Retirement application must be engaged. All of the Standard Forms (SF 3107 series and SF 3112 series) must be thoughtfully formulated; the “foundation” of the case must be obtained — an effective medical narrative, along with supportive medical/treatment records, establishing a nexus between the diagnosed medical conditions and the requirements of one’s position description. An extensive Legal Memorandum is prepared in order to provide the U.S. Office of Personnel Management with a framework and guiding map as to the legal basis for granting a Federal Disability Retirement application. The careful coordination between the medical reports and records; the Applicant’s Statement of Disability; and the legal basis which “ties” together the connection between the medical foundation and the legal criteria — this is where the Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer’s expertise comes to the fore.
Second, Reconsideration Stage: Whether the First Stage was prepared by an unrepresented Federal or Postal worker, or prepared by an attorney, there are a certain number of cases where the U.S. Office of Personnel Management denies a case. This is to be expected. Whether based upon a “quota system”, or because of reasons purportedly validating a First-Stage Denial, a percentage of Federal Disability Retirement applications are denied at the First Stage. This Second, “Reconsideration Stage” should be seen as an opportunity to strengthen, reinforce and rebut — by providing additional medical evidence and proffer further legal arguments in support of your case. An OPM Denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application at the First Stage must be responded to within a specified period of time, or you will lose your right to respond at all. A “Request for Reconsideration” must be received by OPM within thirty (30) days of the date of the denial — not from the date you received the Letter of Denial. If you fail to file your Request for Reconsideration in a timely manner, your case ends and you will not have the opportunity to pursue your case any further. Furthermore, the manner in which the U.S. Office of Personnel Management writes up its Letter of Denial makes it appear as if you have no chance at all. This is done deliberately. An OPM Denial Letter will make you believe that you were a fool to even have tried to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, and by doing so, anticipates that a certain number of cases will simply give up and fail to pursue it any further. Their methodology of denying a case is consistent in its methodology — of “divide and conquer”. OPM will divide each medical condition listed by the applicant, isolating each one, then will argue that the isolated medical condition does not rise to the level of a disabling medical condition. OPM never takes into consideration the aggregate of medical conditions, but by dividing and isolating each medical condition and minimizing its impact upon an individual, will make it appear as if your medical conditions are merely a nuisance and that there is little, if anything, wrong with you. This then leads to the applicant’s defeatist attitude, with the hope that the Federal Disability Retirement applicant will “walk away” and not file a timely Request for Reconsideration.
Third Stage — an Appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board: This is the Stage where you will have an opportunity to take it out of the hands of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and have it reviewed by an Administrative Judge. This is accomplished either by placing evidence in written form before the Judge, or by having a Telephone Hearing. I prefer the latter — as testimony by a treating doctor, the Applicant and other witnesses proves to be a critical and effective method of providing compelling and persuasive evidence. This is effectively the “last” stage of the process in order to win your Federal Disability Retirement case. While there is a “Fourth Stage” — a Petition for Review before the “Full Board” at the MSPB — because the 3-Judge Panel has not been filled and there is therefore no “quorum” to allow for a review, it has become an irrelevant stage and one which cannot be relied upon.
Federal Disability Retirement involves a complex bureaucratic process involving many stages and many obstacles. Because of its inherent complexities, it is important to consult with a lawyer who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law in order to give you the best chance of success. “Success” is determined by an approval issued by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — which will then grant you a lifetime annuity.
If any Federal employee is contemplating filing for OPM disability retirement, he or she should contact me at 1-800-990-7932. You may also E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire