Government Shutdown Delays OPM Benefit Decisions for Disabled Federal Employees

If you think you've been waiting a long time for your OPM or MSPB decision, get ready to wait even longer. 

They're both CLOSED for business because of the government shutdown. 

The shutdown is not only affecting the able-bodied federal employees on furlough, but will also delay the Disability Retirement Benefit decisions for even the most disabled federal employees. 

While researching how federal applicants can still receive disability retirement after being removed for misconduct, I saw the warning below on the Merit Systems Protection Board website. The MSBP is the place where federal employees get their day in court after OPM erroneously denies their case on reconsideration. 

This whole situation also brings up many complicated and confusing questions around regulatory deadlines. OPM drives me nuts on a good day - but this is really driving me bonkers.

This is what the site says.

Due to the partial shutdown of the Federal Government effective at midnight, Saturday, December 22, 2018, the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB or Board) has ceased all operations. This means that the processing of all appeals and other pleadings is suspended, regardless of whether such matters are pending in a Regional or Field Office, before the full Board in Washington, DC, or before an administrative law judge. No personnel are available in any MSPB office to answer inquiries during the entirety of a shutdown. MSPB’s e-Appeal Online system also is not available. MSPB understands that this situation requires adjusting certain deadlines and other processing requirements in many appeals. Therefore, all filing and processing deadlines will be extended by the number of calendar days MSPB is shut down. This extension applies to all deadlines before the MSPB, including those at the initial appeal and petition for review levels. Because the extension is automatic, parties are not required to show good cause and should not request an extension. This extension applies to deadlines in all matters before the Board, even if they involve agencies or employees who are not otherwise affected by this partial shutdown of the Federal Government. This automatic extension does not apply, however, to any deadlines that passed before the date of the shutdown. Further, any hearings, status conferences, or other matters scheduled with an administrative judge for a day when MSPB is shut down are postponed. Once MSPB reopens, the administrative judge will reschedule the event postponed by the shutdown. As indicated above, administrative judges are not available to answer questions or to address inquiries from the parties while MSPB is shut down. 2 If you have any questions about this policy, please contact the Office of the Clerk of the Board or the appropriate MSPB Regional or Field Office after the shutdown ends. Telephone and e-mail addresses are located on the Contact tab of MSPB’s website (www.mspb.gov).

 

Here is the MSPB press release:

Due to the partial shutdown of the Federal Government effective at midnight, Saturday, December 22, 2018, the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB or Board) has ceased all operations. This means that the processing of all appeals and other pleadings is suspended, regardless of whether such matters are pending in a Regional or Field Office, before the full Board in Washington, DC, or before an administrative law judge. No personnel are available in any MSPB office to answer inquiries during the entirety of a shutdown. MSPB’s e-Appeal Online system also is not available. MSPB understands that this situation requires adjusting certain deadlines and other processing requirements in many appeals. Therefore, all filing and processing deadlines will be extended by the number of calendar days MSPB is shut down. This extension applies to all deadlines before the MSPB, including those at the initial appeal and petition for review levels. Because the extension is automatic, parties are not required to show good cause and should not request an extension. This extension applies to deadlines in all matters before the Board, even if they involve agencies or employees who are not otherwise affected by this partial shutdown of the Federal Government. This automatic extension does not apply, however, to any deadlines that passed before the date of the shutdown. Further, any hearings, status conferences, or other matters scheduled with an administrative judge for a day when MSPB is shut down are postponed. Once MSPB reopens, the administrative judge will reschedule the event postponed by the shutdown. As indicated above, administrative judges are not available to answer questions or to address inquiries from the parties while MSPB is shut down. 2 If you have any questions about this policy, please contact the Office of the Clerk of the Board or the appropriate MSPB Regional or Field Office after the shutdown ends. Telephone and e-mail addresses are located on the Contact tab of MSPB’s website (www.mspb.gov).

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OPM Disability Retirement Legal Manual