Physicians are peculiar animals. They are here to help; and from their perspective, success is measured in terms of how rarely a patient returns for further care. The ultimate sentence of failure is to conclude that nothing further can be done for an individual, and one must therefore declare that the patient is permanently disabled.
For the Federal or Postal employee contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, such a perspective on the part of the physician is important before approaching the treating doctor with a request for a medical report. That is why the SF 3112C is such an ineffective vehicle of communication.
Consider this: SF 3112C is a government-prepared form; it is formulated by Federal bureaucrats; the language merely proposes generic guidelines concerning what is required — without any amendments or consideration of case-law refinements which have been promulgated over the evolution of Federal Disability Retirement laws over these many years.
Perhaps more importantly, however, is the lack of bedside manners in handing to a physician a standard form. While many physicians themselves lack adequate bedside manners, it is the epitome of bad form to thrust a pre-printed form (no pun intended) under the nose of a physician who is supposed to be treating and taking care of you, and to declaratively order, “Fill this out”. Even an addendum of “please” will not adequately modify such an affront.
The physician-patient relationship is one based upon communication, knowledge, personal sharing, and a good bit of explaining. Taking the time to prepare a physician is the least one should do in preparing for an effective Federal Disability Retirement application.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire