By Kimberly H. Berry, Esq., www.retirementlaw.com
Our law firm represents federal employees in retirement matters before federal agencies and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Federal employees are either covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), or CSRS Offset. Typically, federal employees and retirees seek our legal assistance after OPM has issued a negative decision regarding their retirement case. In such cases, the federal employee or retiree is provided with an opportunity to request reconsideration regarding OPM’s initial decision. If the federal employee or retiree eventually receives an adverse final agency decision (FAD), then he or she will then have the opportunity to appeal the FAD to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
What is Reconsideration?
Reconsideration is simply OPM’s method of reviewing its initial decision to ensure that the applicable laws, rules and regulations have been properly applied to a federal employee or retiree’s matter. However, in order for OPM to begin its review, the federal employee or retiree must initiate a request for reconsideration. The OPM reconsideration process will then afford the federal employee or retiree an early opportunity to address any deficiencies and legal errors in OPM’s initial decision.
Initial Decision and Denial from OPM
OPM must first rule against the federal employee or retiree before he or she can request OPM’s reconsideration. OPM’s initial adverse ruling is referred to as an initial decision. Suppose a federal employee has applied for disability retirement, but OPM decides to rule against the employee. OPM would then issue an initial decision denying the employee disability retirement benefits and providing the employee with an opportunity to request reconsideration within a specified time period (usually 30 days). Reconsideration requests can involve various retirement issues before federal agencies or OPM, including, but not limited to, disability retirement, the Federal Erroneous Retirement Coverage Corrections Act (FERCCA), and court-ordered spousal and survivor annuity benefits issues.
Seeking Reconsideration from OPM
Generally, a federal employee has 30 days within which to request reconsideration from the date of an adverse OPM decision. It is very important to ensure that the request to OPM is timely. Otherwise, the request for reconsideration can be denied by OPM. When submitting a reconsideration request, it is important to provide as much authority and documentation as possible when addressing any potential deficiencies cited or referred to by OPM in the initial decision. For example, in disability retirement cases, it may be necessary and crucial to provide additional medical documentation if there is a question as to whether or not a federal employee is disabled for service in his or her current position.
When seeking reconsideration from OPM, it is important to obtain the advice and representation of legal counsel. You can contact our law firm through www.retirementlaw.com, www.berrylegal.com, or by telephone at (703) 668-0070, to schedule a consultation to discuss your individual federal employment retirement matter. The law firm's Facebook page is located at the following Internet address: https://www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.