Vanieken-Ryals v. OPM, decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on November 26, 2007, has an interesting statement from the deciding Judge, which can be used as “firepower” for anyone who is attempting to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits (note of caution: for lay non-attorneys, be careful in how you use it in trying to convince a lay, non-attorney OPM representative): “In addition, neither the MSPB nor OPM discussed the content of Dr. [ ] or [ ] evidence in any meaningful way, which further demonstrates that it was not properly considered. OPM, for example, resorted to a laundry list of “objective” tests and documents that the medical evidence did not contain rather than examining the evidence and evaluating what it did contain.”
Interpretation: If OPM’s argument is to focus upon what is missing, they have violated their primary Agency/administrative responsibility — that of evaluating, in some “meaningful” manner, the medical evidence which was in fact submitted. This can be used effectively for the Reconsideration Stage by diplomatically pointing out the error of OPM, and citing Vanieken-Ryals, and highlighting the relevant portions of the medical documentation previously submitted.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire