Federal Worker Disability Retirement: Discretionary Extraction

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there is often the question of whether X should be included, or Y should be left out.  Whether certain elements, issues, substantive descriptions, etc., should be included, excluded, extracted or otherwise inserted, largely falls into discretionary decision-making; sometimes, however, personal or professional discretion should not be the guiding criteria; rather, the compelling necessity directed by the legal requirements should dictate the decision itself.

Making such decisions often fall into three basic categories:  Substantive; ancillary; an admixture of the first and second.  Obviously, “which” medical conditions should be included will normally fall into the substantive category; the “history” of the medical condition, the circumstances under which the medical condition came about, and certain medical conditions which one might suffer from, but which have little or no impact upon one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, might be considered ancillary; and lastly, the admixture of the two — of agency-induced issues which may have resulted in an EEO action; stress-related conditions from a hostile work environment:  these must be considered carefully, and should rarely be included in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Ultimately, the guiding principle should be:  Don’t muddy the waters.  But the true guide should always be “the law”, and what purports to uphold that which proves by a preponderance of the evidence a Federal Disability Retirement application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Discretionary Determinations

Reviewing medical documentation often involves a discretionary determination in preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  Relevant documentation should be filed as an attachment in support of a Federal Disability Retirement application; sometimes, medical reports, notes and records which are from specialists or referral doctors, contain information which is helpful, irrelevant, or detrimental to an application, and determinations as to whether to file it or not is a matter of discretion.  

It is the responsibility of the Federal or Postal employee to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that one is entitled and eligible for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  Meeting the criteria of eligibility is a matter of some latitude; determining what evidence to include involves a certain amount of discretion; in either case, one must affirmatively prove one’s case.  

Thus, FMLA paperwork previously completed by the doctor may have addressed a particular issue for a specific timeframe; OWCP forms previously filled out by the doctor may pertain more to a particular time-period or for the issue of causation, etc.  In the totality of the picture of one’s history of medical conditions, one must utilize a discretionary sense of wisdom in determining which medical evidence will be helpful, and which may potentially hinder.  It is never an exact science; but then, science itself is no longer an exacting endeavor.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire