The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has added some new Legal Administrative Specialists (LAS) to help with the backlog of Federal Disability Retirement files. While adding more specialists is long overdue, the short-term results may not appear to be helpful.
How OPM Specialists Affect Your Claim
Even though the time-table for getting a disability claim approved has been excessively lengthy, the specialists that have been there for a long time to fully understand the adjudication process. While your wait might have been extensive, the more senior specialists have a lot more experience and offer a good chance that your claim would be processed properly.
Now that there are new Legal Administrative Specialists, it is unknown how they will handle cases. We have been working very closely with the OPM office to become quickly acquainted with the specialists. We expect that the Office will experience some ‘growing pains’ with the new LAS’s. This is not to say that the new hires are not trained or good, but rather that they may be void of case experience.
We suggest patience. The Specialists will be working files and making decisions. We will continue to strive for approvals and expect to continue to win cases at the same, extremely high rate.
Remember that you will get an opportunity to appeal any initial denial decision within the OPM. If you are awaiting a Reconsideration decision, you will be able to have your appeal heard before the MSPB if it is not approved.
The purpose of this article is not to scare anyone about the new specialists, but rather inform you that more LAS’s will be working to process claims in Washington, DC. This should help speed up the process and in the end, should be a good thing for claimants. Just be aware that they have new people helping and could make some early mistakes (although we hope not!).
The entire OPM disability application process is time-consuming and frustrating. Having patience during this time can be very, very hard. We think that the benefits are worth waiting for and may be your best option. Hang in there!
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