This is not to say that the Reconsideration Stage of the process, in the stage where there has (obviously) been an initial denial, should not retell a narrative; it is to simply point out the differences in where the emphasis should be — or, rather, where I place the different emphasis based upon the stage.
How I approach each stage, in general terms, is as follows: The Initial Stage (the initial application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS) focuses upon the narrative of the applicant — the description of the medical condition; the kind of job and the essential elements thereof; the interaction and impact of one upon the other, as well as some initial legal arguments. If it is denied, then the Reconsideration Stage has a “shift of paradigm” on what should be emphasized. The Office of Personnel Management will often question the adequacy of the medical documentation. In that case, one needs to respond in a two-pronged attack: (perhaps) an updated medical report, but concurrently, an aggressive legal attack upon the legally untenable position of the denial. This methodology sets up for the Third Stage of the process, in the event that it becomes necessary — the Merit Systems Protection Board.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire