Postal and Federal Disability Retirement: The Spectrum of Necessity

Preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS becomes a consequential necessity arising from the impact of one’s medical conditions upon the ability or inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.

The medical condition, whether chronic or situational; whether a single episode or recurrent; or whether from a singularly traumatic event or one of progressive deterioration — the present impact of the medical condition and its likely impact for 12 months or more into the future, as a prognosis by the doctor based upon reasonable medical probability is far more relevant than the historical origin of the medical condition.

The Federal or Postal employee who is contemplating filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits is often focused, with myopic distractions and irrelevancies, which may be detrimental to the successful outcome of attempting to prove one’s eligibility, upon events, history, and symptoms which have little or no effect upon the criteria of eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  

Each professional has a specific purpose, and it is important to recognize the specific purpose for which a professional has been retained. Thus, the medical doctor’s job is to attempt to treat the medical condition; the therapist’s job is to provide therapeutic intervention through various means for tapping into the psychology of one’s problems; the physical therapist’s purpose is to set physical goals and attempt to increase flexibility, mobility, reduce pain thresholds, etc.  

The job of an attorney, in representing a Federal or Postal employee to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management, is to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a Federal or Postal employee meets the legal criteria set by statutes, regulations and case-law.  

There is a spectrum of necessity which each professional must meet, and while the spectrum sometimes blurs one into another, such that the distinct lines may become somewhat indeterminate, the singular focus of an attorney who is hired to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS should be to always do that which is required on the spectrum of necessity, to meet the legal criteria.  

For, in the end, it is the approval letter from the Office of Personnel Management which the Federal or Postal employee seeks.  Once sought and obtained, the job has been accomplished.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM Disability Retirement: Discretionary Judgments

There are many things in the long process of getting a FERS Disability Retirement application approved, which are purely “discretionary”, based upon one’s experience, sense of a case, an ear to listening to a client, and based upon a compendium of factors, facts and circumstances, to come up with the “best” decision on a particular issue.  A person who tries to go through the process alone, without the ear, mind, experience or judgment of an attorney who knows the process governing Federal Disability Retirement under FERS, has to make such discretionary decisions without the benefit of past experiences. 

Such decisions can range from small issues of:  how and when a treating doctor should be approached in the request for a medical narrative; how much guidance the doctor would need or want in preparing a medical narrative report; when and how to inform the agency of the pending decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, etc.; to the larger decisions, such as which medical conditions and reports to include in the final packet to be submitted to the Office of Personnel Management; and many other such discretionary decisions.  Yet, when grouped together, the complex interactions of the multiple “discretionary judgments” can often make or break a case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

OPM SF 3112 Schedule C Form: The Doctor’s Statements

The lack of cooperation from a treating doctor, who is asked to provide a medical narrative report for a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, may be based upon one of several factors:  It may be that the doctor merely refuses to engage in any type of administrative support for his patients; it may be that the doctor has private suspicions that, to openly admit that his/her patient must file for Federal Disability Retirement means that his/her treatments have failed, and thus, the patient/disability retirement applicant is considering filing a malpractice action, and asking him/her to write a supportive medical narrative is merely a ploy to set the groundwork for a later malpractice action; it may just be bad bedside manners; or it may be that the doctor does not understand the Federal Disability Retirement process, and how it differs for Social Security Disability, or Worker’s Comp.

If it is the latter reason, then it is the job of the attorney to make sure and explain, delineate, and inform the doctor of the nature, extent, and context of Federal Disability Retirement — and to show how an approval for disability retirement benefits will be the best thing for his/her patient.  This is where an attorney representing an applicant for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS becomes a crucial component in the preparation of such an application.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Decisions, Decisions

I am often asked questions by people of which I am unable to answer.  They are not questions concerning “the law” underlying Federal Disability Retirement, but rather questions which go to my “professional discretion” as an attorney in putting together a Federal Disability Retirement packet, prepared to go forth to the Office of Personnel Management. 

By “professional discretion” questions, I mean those questions which go to making decisions and choices concerning medical reports, percentage ratings received from the Veterans Administration; permanency ratings received from Second Opinion or Referee doctors, or the fact that one has reached “maximum medical improvement” and is now “permanent and stationary”, and whether to use such collateral sources of medical documentation in putting together a disability retirement packet. 

The practice of law is not all objective and straight-forward; part of the “practice” of law is of an art form, based upon one’s experience, and professional discretion sharpened by repetitive experiences in working with the Office of Personnel Management and in representing Federal and Postal employees before the Merit Systems Protection Board.  Further, there are some questions which I answer only for those whom I represent.  I am happy to provide general information about the process of filing for disability retirement.  For those whom I represent, however, I reserve for them the art of practicing Federal Disability Retirement law.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire