The U.S. Office of Personnel Management is under constant pressure to reduce its expenditures by cutting down its payouts by billions. We understand this Administration’s effort to cut unnecessary and wasteful expenditures from all across the Federal Government. Unfortunately, a consequence of this Administration’s efforts is that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is denying more and more Federal and Postal Employee Disability Retirement applications. Whether because OPM has instituted a quota system, or has been directed to deny more cases, the result is the same: Denials, denials, denials.
Now, more than ever before, you’ll need to make sure that your Federal Disability application is well formulated, tested for pitfalls, and coherent with the medical documentation you’ll need to provide along with the standard OPM forms. You’ll need to know what the eligibility criteria is before you even try to prove you are eligible for a life-long annuity.
Most OPM Disability Retirement specialists know how to spot disability applications that are prepared by unrepresented applicants, and they also know that, statistically speaking, if these applications are denied the first time, they most likely will not be challenged.
On the other hand, OPM also knows that Attorney McGill will fight at every stage of the process in order to get your application approved. OPM is also fully aware that, if they deny a case twice (both at the Initial Stage and at the Reconsideration Stage), then Attorney McGill will file an appeal to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, where an Administrative Judge will independently make a determination.
The entire process itself involves two (2) administrative stages, and potentially three (3) appellant stages. The following is a short synopsis of each of the stages:The entire process itself involves two (2) administrative stages, and potentially three (3) appellate stages. The following is a short synopsis of each of the stages:
- Initial Application Stage. Approximate Time period to expect: From the initial involvement of the Law Firm of Robert R. McGill to an approval at this stage – 6 – 8 months. Obtaining all medical documentation, including necessary medical narratives; preparation of applicant’s statement of disability; preparation of legal memorandum; filling out all forms; submission to the Federal Agency; in-processing of the application at Boyers, Pennsylvania; assignment of CSA # and review by a Medical Specialist.
- Reconsideration Stage: If an application is denied at the Initial Stage of the process, then the Federal or Postal employee, by and through his attorney, must request for reconsideration within thirty (30) days of the denial. At this stage, one has the right to supplement the original application; to obtain further medical and supporting documentation; to file additional legal briefs and memoranda to argue for eligibility. Approximate Time period to expect: 90 – 120 days.
- Appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board: Preparation of the appeal; submission of Prehearing Statement; submission of legal arguments; Telephonic Hearing, to include testimony from all relevant sources, including doctors, coworkers, the Appellant, etc. Cross-examination may occur by the Representative from the Office of Personnel Management. Approximate timeframe for the entire process: 120 – 150 days.
- Petition for Full Review: If the Administrative Judge at the Hearing conducted before the Merit Systems Protection Board renders an Initial Decision upholding and affirming the denials of the Office of Personnel Management, then the “Appellant” has the right to file a Petition for Full Review. Essentially, this is entirely a “legal” argument. One must show that the Administrative Judge at the MSPB made one or more legal errors in coming to his or her denial.
- Appeal to the Federal Circuit Court: This is essentially the “last shot” at the process. Briefs must be filed. It is a long and complicated process, one which should never be contemplated without an attorney.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire