Federal Disability Retirement: Taking Advantage of the Long Wait

Preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS should not be viewed as a singular event with a distinct and bifurcating cut-off date, where once the medical documentation has been filed with the Office of Personnel Management, it is merely a long process of inactivity in waiting.  

The circumstances at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management have obviously changed.  A few years ago, the expected “wait-time” once a CSA number was assigned to a case, was approximately 60 – 90 days.  That period of waiting has now been extended, and extended considerably, for reasons which the Office of Personnel Management have cited as a “backlog of cases”.  

Because of those changed circumstances, it is wise to take advantage of the wait period by recognizing and bringing together various elements of a Federal Disability Retirement case:  since one’s medical condition must last a minimum of 12 months, and because the waiting time with OPM has been extended, it is probably a good idea to continue to “supplement” the medical records with the Office of Personnel Management, by forwarding, faxing, mailing, etc., any updated medical records, treatment notes, office notes, surgical operative notes; clinical examination records; any functional capacity evaluations, etc.  

Any medical notations which show the continuing care, treatment and inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, will only reinforce and strengthen the argument that (A) one has a medical condition such that one cannot perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, and (2) that as a continuing medical condition, it is not only lasting a minimum of 12 months, but is factually a chronic and continuing medical condition.

 Take advantage of the longer wait period, by actively engaging in the management of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.  

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Creating a Meaningful Bridge

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is obviously important to construct an effective bridge, or nexus, between one’s identified medical conditions and the type of positional duties which one performs at the Federal Agency or the U.S. Postal Service.  

In doing so, one should keep in mind certain essential points, each from the perspective of the Office of Personnel Management (which is the agency which will determine whether the Federal or Postal employee/applicant’s Federal Disability Retirement application will be approved or denied).  

For instance, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will only consider those medical conditions which are identified in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A).  Once a CSA Number (an administrative identifier which is assigned by OPM — an eight-digit number beginning with “4” for CSRS employees and ending with a “0”; and for FERS employees, beginning with an “8” and ending with a “0”) is assigned to an application, the Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to add any further medical conditions without withdrawing the application completely, and re-submitting it anew.

Further, while the Office of Personnel Management will consider specific duties and descriptions of duties which are delineated and expanded upon in the narrative portion of SF 3112A, it is the “official” position description which will ultimately be controlling. Thus, a logical variance from the official position description as to what a Federal or Postal employee does, will not make any difference.  However, if what the Federal or Postal employee states that he or she is doing, is completely at odds with what the positional description states that he or she should be doing, then the controlling default will be the official position description.  

It is wise to keep these two perspectives in mind, in creating an effective bridge for a Federal Disability Retirement application.  For, ultimately, it is the perspective from the “other side” which matters, and as such, OPM’s perspective of how a Federal Disability Retirement application is reviewed and considered, is an important aspect in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire