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Federal Disability Retirement: How does a Postal or Federal Employee meet their burden of proof at the MSPB?

Federal Disability Retirement: How does a Postal or Federal Employee meet their burden of proof at the MSPB?

Assuming that a postal worker or federal employee meets all the basic eligibility requirements for FERS or CSRS federal disability retirement, they will have to persuade the MSPB Administrative Judge that their medical condition renders them unable to provide useful and efficient government service.

How exactly do you persuade the MSPB of this? There are five (5) ways a USPS or Federal employee can use evidence to persuade the MSPB Administrative Judge that his or her medical condition is sufficiently disabling to warrant receipt of federal disability retirement. (If you are a postal worker or federal employee filing for federal disability retirement, you should use the following list as your application checklist – evidence of each of the following should be included in your initial application to OPM, to give you the best chance for receiving federal disability retirement benefits.)

(1) Objective clinical findings. These are the tests that doctors perform to diagnose a condition. They could be as complex as an MRI, CT-Scan, or as straightforward as blood pressure tests, lab results for blood and urinalysis, or something like the Beck Depression Inventory. Whatever form it takes, objective clinical findings are the data on which doctors and medical professionals base their opinions.

(2) Diagnoses and medical opinions. Quite simply, this is the doctor’s conclusions based on the empirical evidence described above. The more that a doctor’s opinion ties in the empirical and objective clinical findings, the more persuasive his or her medical opinion is (at least before the MSPB).

(3) Subjective evidence of pain and disability. In the law, the word subjective is often used to describe things that are perceived, thought or felt by an individual himself (or herself). In other words, if I believe that the pain that keeps me from getting out of bed quickly in the morning is a result of my myasthenia gravis, then that is my “subjective” opinion. If a doctor, however, testifies to that same conclusion, it is considered “objective” opinion. (This is oversimplifying the distinction, but I think you get the idea). Federal and Postal employees applying for federal disability retirement should consider including their own affidavit, sworn under penalty of perjury, explaining the limitations caused by pain and the symptoms of the condition, in their application for federal disability retirement.

(4) Evidence relating to the effect of the appellant’s condition on his ability to perform in the grade or class of position last occupied. Sometimes this is nothing more than medical reports or summaries. However, keep in mind that the folks at OPM that are reviewing the postal worker or federal employee application for federal disability retirement usually have no formal medical training. Take your position description to each of your doctors, and ask them to identify each task in that PD that you cannot do because of your medical condition, and then explain why in laymen’s language. This type of “report” from a doctor can be very persuasive to an OPM employee, but more importantly, it is extremely helpful to an MSPB Administrative Judge who will need to be educated as to your medical condition and its symptoms, effects, etc.

(5) Evidence that the appellant was not qualified for reassignment to a vacant position at the same grade or level as the position he last occupied. In most cases, the Supervisor certification is going to be sufficient evidence. However, in some cases, applicants have spent months or years trying to get an accommodation or reassignment through the Rehab Act, ADA, or ADAAA processes or through a complaint to the EEOC. If you have evidence that the Agency has denied your accommodation requests, other than the supervisor statement, you may want to consider including that as well.

No post on this website is legal advice, is meant to be legal advice, and certainly does not serve as a substitute for legal advice. Information is power, and we are providing this information to give you, the federal employee or postal worker, with some power. This information is not widely or easily accessible to Federal Employees or postal workers.

The Law Office of Eric Pines represents Federal employees under FERS or CSRS in their applications for federal disability retirement to OPM. If an application for federal disability retirementis denied, the Firm represents Federal employees under both FERS and CSRS in their MSPB appeals of denials of federal disability retirement applications by OPM.

It is best to consult with a lawyer familiar with Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and federal disability retirement appeals to discuss the facts and law of your particular case. If you are obese, or morbidly obese, and would like to discuss your application for federal disability retirement, under FERS or CSRS, or OPM’s denial of your applications for federal disability retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, or any attempts to seek to have federal disability retirement benefit reinstated by OPM, contact an MSPB attorney or a Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer at the Law Office of Eric Pines to schedule a telephone consultation.