Is the Office of Personnel Management trying to extort money from federal retirees?
The Merit Systems Protection Board was formed in 1978 by Congress under the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 to help resolve retirement benefits issues with the Office of Personnel Management, for federal employees.
Before, the U.S. District Courts and Court of Claims used to handle retirement disputes but a finality clause of determining benefits restricted their participation.
Any federal employee under the CSRS whose rights and interests have been affected by an adverse decision by OPM has the right to appeal to the Board for relief – if – OPM has “labeled” a decision (1) initial and (2) final (see 5 C.F.R. 831.109-110).
Which could take a very long time.
I have been waiting 17 months to get my retirement fixed.
This is the position I found myself in after retiring in May of 2015 at 62 years of age with 22 years of federal service applying for deferred retirement. And OPM miscalculated my retirement pay and would not reconsider fixing it.
I didn’t so much mind the nearly two month delay for OPM to respond to my application for deferred retirement, but then they asked for money – an amount they could neither substantiate nor designate a proper time frame for in which they said my employer failed to make the retirement deposits, on three request notices, and by which my employer was actually required to deposit by 5 U.S.C. 8334. (Archived evidence proves my employer made the deposit.)
I appealed, but lacking a so called “final” decision of OPM determining my claim, I went to the U.S. District Court, who denied jurisdiction to the Merit Systems Protection Board, which handles disputes of Civil Service retirement issues
(Later, I found out that in order to get OPM to fix something, a “reconsideration” request must be made in writing. OPM in my case would not respond to a reconsideration request over the phone no matter how much I argued they were wrong and provided evidence to fix the computation.
So if you are a federal employee under CSRS by all whose rights have been adversely affected, by all means get OPM to label any decision as initial or final. Call them down on it. Then, send them a reconsideration request letter quickly, if they won’t comply with your evidence.
Finally, or so I thought, OPM’s booklet of benefits came around November after seven months. And it neither had a label as initial or final.
I appealed to the Merit Board in December of 2015 that OPM had miscalculated my retirement.
The board, after four months, sided with OPM though OPM failed to respond to the appeal, failed to attend a telephone conference, and failed to respond to a demand order; and then they were given an extension to file a request to get the appeal dismissed for lack of jurisdiction by 5 U.S.C 831.109-110 citing they hadn’t made an initial or final decision on my retirement!
This is how OPM shields itself from accountability and corruption charges, and I might add, failing to timely respond to an active or retired employee’s appeal.
A request to review my complaint with The MSPB Petition for Review Board, which took four more months, was no help; they also sided with OPM.
This system is flawed and biased towards the government, and I noted this in my Petition for Review. And we all know who hired the Administrative Judges: OPM.
If the MSPB is not going to hear and judge civil service retirement issues upon OPM error within the time limits of the Administrative Procedure Act, which mandates business be effectuated in a timely manner, the Merit Board should be dismantled — or either reject appeals at the moment of filing to save litigants’ time and effort, and save the taxpayers a lot of money.
Or possibly such matters as these could be turned back over to the District Courts for litigation so a former employee can get an equitable hearing.
But in my case, the MSPB didn’t work, and neither did the federal court.
Possibly 5 C.F.R. 831.109-110 needs to be repealed, or incorporate time limits for OPM to respond to applications for retirement, but something needs to be done to get this agency functioning right. They would never survive in the private commercial world.
And while we’re on the subject, until the United States Government and OPM returns to hiring and promoting “best qualified” applicants, as before the Ronald Reagan era, nothing is going to change.