Larry L. Bruner was employed as a nursing assistant at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Pennsylvania. He suffered an injury resulting in chronic back pain and an inability to perform his job. Mr. Bruner was terminated from employment on the grounds that he was physically unable to perform his job and that it was not possible to place him in any other position. Subsequently, his application for disability retirement was rejected by the Office of Personnel Management. He then appealed his case to the United States Court of Appeals. The Court decided that even though Mr. Bruner was terminated on the grounds that he was physically unable to perform his job, he does not automatically get approved for disability retirement. However, it does shift the “burden of production” to the government. This means the government must come forward with enough evidence that a reasonable fact finder could conclude that the applicant did not qualify.
If an employee was removed from his or her agency for medical inability to perform his or her job, he or she will obtain a Bruner Presumption. This is a great advantage but does not guarantee approval. The Office of Personnel Management can still deny an applicant that doesn’t show evidence of their disability. The applicant must still produce medical evidence that they are unable to perform the essential elements of his or her job and meet OPM’s conditions for approval. Obtaining a Bruner Presumption helps an applicant in that OPM has the harder burden of disproving that the applicant has a disability instead of the applicant proving he does.
Engaging an experienced law firm is another recommended step when dealing with the complex and nuanced criteria for OPM Disability Retirement. Contact Pines Federal at (800) 801-0598 for skilled guidance in all areas of the OPM Disability Retirement application process.