In filing a Federal Disability Retirement application with the Office of Personnel Management, it is always preferable (though not an absolute mandate) to have medical reports and records from a “treating” doctor of some tenure. What constitutes a “treating doctor” is fairly uncontroversial — it means that the report rendering an opinion concerning one’s physical or mental ability to perform all of the essential elements of your job should be prepared by a doctor who has provided medical treatment, and generally has a patient-doctor relationship. The duration of the tenure which then creates such a “patient-doctor” relationship does not necessarily put a specific time frame upon a doctor. It can mean anywhere from a month to a decade, in my view.
From the applicant’s perspective, it is important to understand that the person who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits has been establishing and fostering that relationship, and this is important to see. Those many years of going to the doctor, speaking to him or her about the most personal of problems — one’s medical conditions — is part of what creates that special bond identified as a “patient doctor relationship”. It is a relationship which has been created and fostered through interactive needs, and that relationship should be strong enough to ask the doctor, when the time and need comes to fruition, for a medical report in support of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application. So, at this point in the issue, as one is contemplating Federal Disability Retirement, does your interaction with your treating doctor constitute a “relationship”, or is it merely an economic exchange of goods and services?
Robert R. McGill, Esquire