Federal Disability Retirement – How Does The OPM Affect Me?

Oct 28, 2013


The OPM, or Office of Personnel Management, functions as an extension of each federal agency’s human resource department. They administer all of the federal employee retirement benefits, insurance programs, as well as assist each agency with their hiring processes. The OPM also defends the merit systems of all civil servants to ensure fair employer practices.

What that means for you, is that the OPM is the overarching agency to service your federal benefits. If you begin the retirement process, whether it is for a regular or disability retirement, your application and annuity will be processed by the OPM. Your federal group health insurance and group life insurance changes are all made with the OPM from that point on. They also perform the routine changes to your address and banking information once you retire.

If you are seeking employment with the federal government, the OPM posts many of the federal jobs that are available. They also perform the background checks and screening processes before the hire is official.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

The Office of Personnel Management has two main locations; one in Washington, DC and another one in Boyers, PA. Most retirement processes occur in the DC office. Determinations for disability and the calculations of your annuity also take place there. Once the claim is approved and payments have commenced and been finalized, your file is transferred to the Boyers office. That office is located well below ground in the bottom of an old quarry. They provide maintenance and minor changes within the file after you have retired.

Our office works with the OPM on a daily basis. All disability files are forwarded to the Boyers office to get a CSA number. CSA stands for Civil Service Account. That number will identify your file for the remainder of its time with the OPM. It may go on to be the one number that is used for the remainder of your, or your spouse’s life.

Once the Boyers office has assigned the CSA number, the file is forwarded to the DC office for adjudication. The claim is assigned to a Legal Administrative Specialist (LAS) in the Disability unit. The LAS will read the evidence and make a determination based on the medical file. We work hard to ensure that all of the necessary information is in the file for an approval. Once the claim is approved, the file is sent to the Payment Processing Department, where they take all of your payment history while in federal service to calculate your annuity benefits and make the proper deductions for your insurance and spousal annuity.


If the claim is initially denied, you can appeal with Reconsideration. New evidence can be submitted for consideration by a new LAS. If approved, the claim follows the same procedure as an initial stage approval. If denied, you are afforded one more appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). The MSPB is more formal and is overseen by a Administrative Judge. The OPM assigns an in house attorney to defend their denial decision.

We work hard to maintain an excellent relationship with the OPM and their representatives. They are often flooded with cases and are significantly understaffed. Our goal when representing federal employees with their disability retirement applications is to present their information and evidence in the most organized and succinct way possible. While no representative can supply you with medical evidence, having your evidence in the right order can help the OPM make their decisions.

Get Legal Help to Maximize Your Chances of Approval

OPM is the only agency that can approve or deny your claim for disability. Understanding what they do can help you as you begin the long journey to receiving your hard earned retirement. We devote our time to helping federal employees answer all kinds of questions about the Office of Personnel Management and their federal employment benefit options. We even have Chartered Federal Employee Benefit Consultants on staff to better help you understand your rights. Contact Harris Federal Law Firm, for a free consultation today.

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