The Department of Veterans Affairs does it; in obtaining a scheduled award from the Officer of Workers’ Compensation Programs, administered under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA), the amount determined is based upon it; and so it is understandable that confusions may arise as to its relevance, import and various applicable uses.
Disability ratings represent an attempt to quantify the extent of one’s medical condition, injury, or loss of limb or body mobility, flexion, ability to use, etc. Such attempt at quantification, no matter what mathematical calculus or methodology employed, must by necessity involve a level of subjectivity; for any such attempt is pre-determined by the criteria which is applied, and any such criteria which purports to apply universally will be unable to accommodate the uniqueness of an individualized case.
In a FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement case, the benefit provided is a flat rate, and is set by statute. It does not increase or decrease based upon a percentage assignation of a medical disability. Similarly, in Social Security Disability, the amount of the annuity received does not change because of an increase in percentage.
Whether one can or should use the assigned percentage rating from the VA or from OWCP, in proving or attempting to prove eligibility in FERS or CSRS Disability Retirement cases, is a matter of discretion. The amount of the disability rating; whether the gross number is a combination of fairly insignificant fractured percentages; the substantive discussion justifying each number, etc. — all of those factors must be taken into consideration before using it in a Federal Disability Retirement application.
Numbers alone rarely mean anything; in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is not the numbers, but the words which support them, which will make the difference.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
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