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The Importance of a Merit Review in a Reconsideration Request

A claimant has one year to file a reconsideration request of a decision, including the decision of a hearing representative. See topic: TIME LIMITS AND FRAMES IN COMPENSATION CLAIMS AND APPEALS for how to count days to avoid missing an OWCP appeal deadline.

A reconsideration request requires that the claimant meet the burden of submitting pertinent and relevant new medical evidence or new legal argument not previously considered by OWCP. Only if the claimant meets that burden will the District Office perform a merit review of the reconsideration request.

A merit review is important because, if the District Office does a merit review but issues another adverse decision, the claimant will have an additional year to request another reconsideration. That gives a person plenty of time to obtain new medical documentation and other evidence. A merit decision also is important for purposes of appeal to ECAB. If there is no merit review, the claimant only has one year from the date of the original adverse decision to demand a reconsideration request. I might note that a claimant has no limit on the number of times to file a reconsideration request within the one year period of a merit decision.

An appeal to ECAB is only appropriate when there is no new evidence to submit. ECAB only considers the evidence already in the claim record plus new written argument. A claimant has 180 days to file an appeal to ECAB from the date of the adverse decision. If a claimant is appealing a non-merit reconsideration decision to ECAB, he can argue that the District Office incorrectly decided not to do a merit review.