Federal Employee Medical Retirement: The Importance of Logical Sequence

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to recognize the logical “sequencing” of the Standard government forms to be submitted.

While the SF 3107 series (including Schedules A, B & C) and SF 2801 series (for CSRS employees, and also including Schedules A, B & C) may generally request personal and professional information of a rather innocuous nature (of course, one may argue that no amount or substantive form of information provided to the Federal government should be considered as such, but that is another issue altogether), the Federal/Postal Standard Forms which both FERS and CSRS must complete — the SF 3112A, SF 3112B, SF 3112C, and SF 3112D (yes, I know, there is a SF 3112E, but that is merely a checklist for the Agency to fill out; although, on SF 3112E is the very justification that proves that SF 3112C is not a necessary form, but rather to be used as an intermediate vehicle in order to obtain the necessary medical documentation for a Federal Disability Retirement application) — should be done so in a proper, logical sequence.  

Obviously, if one is going to utilize the “Physician’s Statement” (SF 3112C) in order to have the doctor provide the justifying foundation for a Federal Disability Retirement application (which, incidentally, the undersigned attorney would advise against), then that should probably be the first and primary Standard government Form to begin with.  It will likely intimidate the treating doctor, and perhaps even confuse the issue; but from a logical standpoint, that would be the one to begin with.  But then, logic and sequence is not of paramount importance in the Federal government; just take a look at the fiscal mess we are in to understand such a sentiment.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Sequence of Procedural Requirements

There is a specific reason why the benefit identified as Federal Disability Retirement, whether under FERS or CSRS, exists.  It is to allow for an early retirement for an individual who has met the minimum eligibility criteria — of being a Federal or Postal employee , and having at least eighteen (18) months of Federal Service under FERS, or five (5) years under CSRS.  That is the basic eligibility criteria.  

Those who meet that minimum criteria, have a “right” to take the next step: One must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that one is eligible for the benefit, by proving (generally speaking) that as a Federal or Postal employee, one cannot perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, or any similar job; that the agency is unable to “accommodate” the Federal or Postal employee’s medical condition (and the term “accommodation” is a term of art, such that there is a particularized and narrow definition of how that term is applied in Federal Disability Retirement law), and that the medical condition will last a minimum of 12 months.  

Beyond those sequential procedural steps, is a wide and fairly complex array of legal, medical and practical considerations which must be viewed, before proceeding with a Federal Disability Retirement application.  Does the Federal or Postal employee have a supportive doctor?  Will that doctor be willing to write a narrative report expounding and delineating the factors and addressing the issues which need to be discussed?  

As with most things in life, it is important to identify, recognize and approach a Federal Disability Retirement application in a logical, sequential manner, such that one does not waste time, effort, and a reserve of hope in going down a path which may not be applicable to one’s particular circumstances.  Advice and counsel from an OPM Disability Attorney who can explain the process may be helpful in this endeavor.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Attorney