In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, sometimes there is an inevitable intersection between the Medical Issues involving the patient and doctor, and the Legal Issue embracing the Client-Lawyer-Doctor.
Often, in terms of filing for FMLA protection, or taking too much sick leave, being placed on leave-restriction by the Agency, etc., or in the very question as to whether it will reflect negatively upon a Federal Disability Retirement application if one continues to work without taking any sick leave — these “mixed questions” will intersect between the medical and legal arenas.
The conceptual distinction and bifurcation of the two issues is important to maintain. First and foremost, one’s medical condition should always be considered as the primacy of concern. Obtaining the proper medical care and taking care of one’s health and medical needs should be absolute and inviolate. The secondary question of how it will reflect upon a Federal Disability Retirement application, inasmuch as it is a “paper presentation” to the Office of Personnel Management, should be an afterthought. For, after all, the whole purpose of filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits is to take care of the primary consideration — that of one’s health and medical needs. If one takes care of “first things first”, then the “second” things will naturally fall into place.
Now, having said that, how an Agency attempts to characterize a Federal or Postal employee’s attempt to attend to one’s medical conditions can of course sometimes impact a Federal Disability Retirement application, and should be responded to aggressively and in a timely manner. But the substance of any such response, if it is based upon the medical condition, will always “correct” any such agency mis-statement.
Integrity in a situation always prevails, and that is the whole purpose of having Federal Disability Retirement benefits and the laws which govern such benefits, in order for the Federal or Postal employee to attend to one’s medical conditions first, and then to “move on” in life.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire