From the MSPB March 2012: OPM denied the disability retirement application, initially and on reconsideration, on the basis that he had failed to provide sufficient diagnostic and treatment evidence pertaining to his claimed conditions and did not establish that he was disabled for useful and efficient service or that his continued absence from the workplace was medically warranted. After reviewing the medical evidence, administrative judge stated that the "general" rule in disability retirement cases is that the medical evidence must show how the employee’s conditions affect his ability to perform specific job duties and requirements. None of the appellant’s treatment providers explained how his conditions affected his specific work requirements. The administrative judge further found that the medical evidence did not unambiguously and without contradiction indicate that the appellant could not perform the particular duties listed in the disability retirement application. The administrative judge found that, even if he was entitled to the so-called Bruner presumption4, a lack of objective medical evidence in the record providing a reasoned explanation of how his conditions rendered him unable to perform specific work requirements would rebut the presumption. Under the Civil Service Retirement System, OPM’s implementing regulation describes two ways to meet the statutory requirement that the employee "be unable, because of disease or injury, to render useful and efficient service in the employee’s position": (1) by showing that the medical condition caused a deficiency in performance, attendance, or conduct; or (2) by showing that the medical condition is incompatible with either useful and efficient service or retention in the position.
Under the first method discussed above, an appellant can establish entitlement by showing that his medical condition affects his ability to perform specific work requirements, prevents him from being regular in attendance, or causes him to act inappropriately.
Under the second method, an appellant can show that the medical condition is inconsistent with working in general, working in a particular line of work, or working in a particular type of setting. Regardless of the particular method of establishing an inability to render useful and efficient service, the burden of proof in every case is by a preponderance of the evidence, i.e., more likely true than not. Id., 5 C.F.R. § 1201.56(a), (c)(2). The Board specifically found that to require medical evidence that is unambiguous and without contradiction is to impose a higher burden of proof, one that is not authorized by law or regulation.
Henderson, 117 M.S.P.R. 313, ¶ 16. The Board concluded that the ultimate question, based on all the relevant evidence, is whether the appellant’s medical impairments preclude him from rendering useful and efficient service in his position, and that the question must be answered in the affirmative if the totality of the evidence makes that conclusion more likely to be true than not true.