One suspects that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management “plays the odds” and finds that a certain percentage of the population will accept at face-value the stated basis of a denial of a Federal Disability Retirement application, regardless of the lack of substantive basis for such a denial. And, indeed, there will be a segment of the population, within the entire universe of Federal and Postal employees who submit a Federal Disability Retirement application, who will simply feel discouraged, and simply give up. This is precisely why, in many administrative processes, there is an automatic first-level denial.
FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement is somewhat different, and one would assume that there is no internal mechanism of automatically rejecting a submission at the initial stage of the application, because the merits of each case should be determined at each stage of the process.
Nevertheless, it would be “prudent” for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to take such an approach, if only to test the determination and seriousness of each applicant. This is not to allege that such an approach is deliberately engaged in by OPM; rather, whether on a valid basis or not, there is nevertheless the likelihood that a certain percentage of Federal Disability Retirement applicants who are denied at the first stage, will simply walk away, not fighting for a benefit which they may well be eligible for.
And, of course, “walking away without a fight” is certainly an option for everyone; not a very viable one, and one which should not be recommended. The sad part, of course, is that the very basis for not having “the fight” to contest an OPM denial, is often the same basis for which the Federal or Postal worker filed for Federal Disability Retirement benefits in the first place: the medical condition itself, and the debilitating manifestations which have weakened the human spirit to persevere.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire