The entire process of preparing and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS should be accomplished with the view that it will end up at the Merit Systems Protection Board, being heard by an Administrative Judge. This is why much thought and preparation should foreshadow each application. There should be a running theme throughout the narrative which reveals the individuality of a person’s medical condition and how that medical condition impacts his or her ability/inability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.
Truth should always be the guide; however, truth is always influenced by perspective. It is the “perspective” of the Office of Personnel Management, in all Federal Disability Retirement cases under FERS & CSRS, to carefully scrutinize the narrative of the medical condition, impact upon the job, and the ability and inability to have the necessary connection between the two. It is the perspective of the supervisor who will render his or her opinion based upon a limited knowledge and observation. Perspectives must be questioned. Thus, there is the opportunity for cross-examination at the MSPB level, which must be engaged in artfully and with care. Each individual believes that his or her Federal Disability Retirement application is a “sure thing” at the First Stage of the process — until the reality sets in. The reality, of course, is that every application must be prepared as if it is going to the MSPB, because it well might, and often does.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire