In a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS & CSRS, what distinguishes the entire process of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that a Federal or Postal employee is unable to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job — from other processes, such as Social Security and OWCP — is that the evidentiary weight is placed upon a treating doctor. There are “other” types of doctors other than treating doctors: specialists who are referred to for consultative purposes; doctors who specialize in determining functional capacity & evaluate the functional limits of an individual; occupational specialists, etc. Why a “treating” doctor? Because we are talking about workers who, over time, find that he or she is no longer able to perform the essential elements of a job and, over that same time, it makes sense that a doctor would be treating that individual. Disability Retirement is not normally filed as a result of a traumatic accident (although that can happen, also); rather, a Federal or Postal employee normally files a Federal Disability Retirement application because of a condition which develops over time. That is why the “treating” doctor would be the best source of knowledge and information: because, through clinical examinations, long-term doctor-patient relationship, the treating doctor can make a long-term assessment based upon all of the facts and circumstances of the patient.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire