Disability retirement under the Office of Personnel Management, and Worker’s Comp benefits from the Department of Labor, OWCP — normally, I explain that the two have nothing to do with each other, and “never the twain shall meet” (except, of course, insofar as one must choose one or the other; that causality or “on the job” issues are not relevant for OPM disability retirement; or that OWCP pays more but is not a retirement system, etc. — thus, all of those distinctions and differences which only serve to emphasize the separation between the two benefits). However, there are instances when the applicant filing for OPM disability retirement benefits, and who (at the same time, coincidentally) has been under the thumb of OWCP, should “cross over” between the two — especially when he or she has received a favorable Second Opinion stating that the (so-called) Independent Medical Examination shows that the OWCP beneficiary is unable to return to the job. In that instance, such a medical opinion can and should be used for OPM disability retirement purposes. In fact, such a medical opinion is often viewed by OPM as “independent” and “unbiased”. To a great extent, this is somewhat of an irony, because from the employee’s viewpoint, the Second Opinion Doctor is anything but an “unbiased” doctor (in most instances), inasmuch as OWCP/DOL is paying for his or her services. But when that “unbiased” doctor gives a favorable opinion, then it can work to your advantage when filing for disability retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management.
Robert R. McGill, Esqire