FERS Disability Retirement applicants are especially “vulnerable” because of the inherently precarious financial situation that an applicant often finds him/herself in, and often desperate need for an approval from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Most of the cases that I represent are approved at the First Stage; upon a denial, however, it is necessary to go to the Second Stage, or the “Request for Reconsideration Stage.” An individual has 30 days from the date of the denial letter to file a request for reconsideration, then another 30 days to obtain and submit additional medical and supporting documentation.
If it is denied a second time, then an applicant has a right to file an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). While the MSPB will hear the case de novo (meaning, “anew” without consideration of OPM’s prior decisions), neverthess, it is important to look upon a disability retirement case as a “case in progress”, and that is why hiring an attorney at the outset is often important. While most “mistakes” made by an applicant are minor and correctable, everything that is submitted — the applicant’s statement, any records or reports submitted — become part of the record as a whole and cannot be retracted or erased. That is why a thorough review by a competent attorney is important in filing for FERS Disability Retirement.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
OPM Disability Retirement Attorney
The content provided in this article has been updated and previously published in other resources such as the Federal Disability Lawyer website, the OPM Disability Retirement blog and/or the Federal Disability Attorney blog.