The Merit Systems Protection Board recently ruled that a U.S. Postal Service employee who withdrew his appeal of an Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs disability benefits denial will just have to live with the consequences. He was not entitled to reinstate his appeal absent a showing that the interests of justice required it, the board said.
The employee withdrew an initial appeal regarding disability benefits based on his arthritic knee after the OWCP accepted his claim. The agency then offered the employee limited work duty as an accommodation which the employee rejected. Though the employee did receive OWCP pay for wages lost, the employee attempted to reinstate his original appeal, even after the OWCP found his condition improved enough for a return to duty.
An administrative law judge rejected the appeal, finding that the employee was required to return to work when the OWCP made a suitable job offer.
MSPB said that the withdrawal of an appeal is ordinarily a final act unless the interest of justice warrants reinstating appeal. For example, reinstatement might be warranted when an employee bases a withdrawal decision on misinformation or new evidence surfaces, said the board. Thus, because the employee did not present new evidence or demonstrate that he withdrew his appeal based on a misunderstanding of the OWCP’s decision, the MSPB refused to reinstate his appeal.
The full text of the decision can be found online.