In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to provide a guiding cover letter to the Office of Personnel Management — whether termed as a “Legal Memorandum”, a “Cover Page”, or some other designation — in order to introduce a “road map” to the OPM Representative who will be reviewing the case.
While the OPM Representative will ultimately be able to “figure out” the documents to be reviewed (i.e., the Standard Forms are obviously familiar; the medical documentation should be self-evident, etc.), there is a distinction to be made between the documentation submitted, and the persuasive effect of the documentation. There are times, of course, when the strength of a case is so irrefutable and unrebuttable that no guidance is needed; most cases, however, require some persuasive authority.
The best road map will cite some relevant statutory authority or judicial cases of known precedence. If one is to cite relevant legal authority, however, it is important to do so properly. To mis-cite a case, its relevance, or its correct interpretive impact, can do more harm than good, especially if the case proceeds to the later stages of being argued before a Merit Systems Protection Board Administrative Judge.
Knowing what one is speaking about is the basis for credibility; credibility in making a persuasive presentation of one’s medical conditions and their impact upon one’s ability or inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job is crucial to the effectiveness of one’s case. Citing cases properly, forcefully, and with technical appropriateness is important in presenting a road map for OPM to follow — from the point of initial introduction, to the final conclusion of agreeing that the Federal or Postal employee is indeed eligible and entitled to Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire