Retirement & Financial Planning Report

A federal court has rejected the appeal of a former federal employee that was brought on grounds that OPM failed to help the individual decide whether he was eligible for an annuity.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recounted that after his separation, his former agency informed him that he might be eligible for a retirement benefit if he applied for one. He then contacted OPM three separate times “to inquire whether he was eligible for an annuity, which retirement package he should select, and how much money he would receive.”

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However, OPM didn’t respond to any of the inquiries other than an automated response.

He filed a complaint with the MSPB, which hears challenges to OPM retirement eligibility decisions, but the merit board held that OPM never had made a decision and therefore the board lacked jurisdiction.

On appeal, he contended that “OPM’s lack of response to his inquiries is essentially equivalent to a denial of retirement benefits” and that the MSPB has jurisdiction over an appeal concerning a retirement matter in which OPM has refused or improperly failed to issue a final decision. However, the court said that principle applies only in situations such as one in which an employee requests that OPM reconsider a decision on benefits but OPM does not reply.

In the present case, it said, the employee “has not met his burden of demonstrating that the Board has jurisdiction over his appeal, as OPM has not issued a final decision and has not shown that OPM has refused or improperly failed to issue a final decision.”

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