Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: Necessary Connections

Necessity is determined by how one defines and confines the parameters required to reach the requisite conclusion; if the criteria governing the roadmap to a successful outcome is replete with heightened qualitative specifications, greater care and effort may be mandated; conversely, if a looser, more informal measure is imposed, the tendency is to respond accordingly.

But what determines the response — outside influences, or one’s own standard of excellence? In Hume’s argument concerning causality, of course, the prerequisites defined were instituted at the outset to defeat the argument for causality; by setting up the requirement of what constitutes a “necessary connection” in order to establish a causal connection, he allowed for no amount of evidence which would satisfy his rule; thus, it was already a self-contained tautology from the outset.

For preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS or CSRS, the question becomes: Does the medical condition itself determine the extent of groundwork necessary for a successful approval from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, or should the identical set of stringent prerequisites be satisfied regardless of the seriousness of the medical condition?  The obvious answer, of course, should always ascribe to the latter, as acceptance of the former entails potential pitfalls which may result in lost time and unnecessary efforts expended for satisfaction of additional stages in the administrative process.

Necessary connections in a Federal Disability Retirement application must be proven and established at all levels; for, as the age-old adage reminds us, it is the weakest link in the chain of arguments which will ultimately defeat the entire structure of an otherwise solid case.

It is the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, through statutory impositions and regulatory requirements, which has “pre-set” the necessary connections to be made in proving eligibility for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; it is up to the applicant (you) to make sure that all such causal connections are established, proven, confirmed and supported, in order to ensure the best chances for success in an administrative process fraught with human frailties and foibles.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: Quality & Quantity of Medical Report

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is often asked as to the quantitative sufficiency of the medical documentation to be submitted.

Qualitative sufficiency for Federal Disability Retirement applications, at least on a generic level, is an easy one to answer — the substance of the medical documentation must meet the legal standard of proof.  If the Office of Personnel Management or the Merit Systems Protection Board approves the Federal or Postal employee’s Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, then obviously both the quality and quantity of medical documentation met the standard of proof.  

But an answer based upon “after the fact” circumstances is rarely useful; the generic answer of, “Submit medical evidence such that it meets the legal burden of proof, of Preponderance of the Evidence”, might be well and good, but what does that mean?  

Ultimately, the reason why such questions as to sufficiency of medical documentary submission cannot be answered in a generic manner, is that each particular case is unique, and any imposition of a general rule is dangerous because, the moment the general rule is followed and violated (with a denial from the Office of Personnel Management), then the rule becomes obsolete and irrelevant.  

The quality of the medical documentation to be submitted must ultimately show to OPM that each of the legal criteria are met, and that there is a nexus between one’s medical conditions and the type of work that one performs.  

Quantity of medical documentation is ultimately determined by the quality of the medical narrative.  While generic in scope, the general approach is that one should submit only the extent of medical documentation sufficient to prove one’s case; and in each particular case, what that proof must consist of, is unique, particularized, and ultimately personalized to the individual Federal or Postal Worker who is preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: Overstating and Understating

Overstating a case in a Federal Employee Disability Retirement case can have the effect of undermining the very credibility of the supporting medical documentation which is supposed to “prove” a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.  It is similar to seeing a well-edited preview of a movie, where the scenes are cut-and-pasted to make it appear more exciting than the actual movie itself.  Then, when the viewer goes and sees the movie, it is a moment of sensory disappointment.  One does not want that same result to occur when the person at the Office of Personnel Management is reviewing your case. 

The inverse of that, of course, is understating a case.  This rarely happens, and even if it does, there is normally not a negative side to it — although, when I have taken over a case at the Reconsideration Level after an initial denial for an individual who attempted to file the application at the Initial Stage on his own, I found that there were numerous statements in the office/treatment notes that had been overlooked, and an older (but still relevant) evalualtion which had not been previously emphasized.  For the most part, an applicant for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS must strike a careful balance between the two opposites, and the tempering guide which should always be used is the medical report(s) itself.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal and Postal Disability Retirement: The Necessary Doctor

Ultimately, the doctor who is necessary is the one who will be supportive.  Whenever the question is asked of me whether it is “necessary” to have the support of this or that doctor, my answer is generic in nature:  It is better to have one excellent narrative report in support of one’s Disability Retirement Application, than to have 5 mediocre or lukewarm reports.  Excellence in a Federal Disability Retirement application is encapsulated by the level of passion and support by the treating doctor.  The character and texture of a medical report is not just a set of factual listings of medical conditions and a dry statement of an opinion; rather, the underlying sense of a doctor’s firm and passionate belief in a patient is often evident in the intangible underpinnings of a good report.  There are simply some reports written by a doctor where one knows that it is improbable that the Office of Personnel Management will want to entangle themselves in; the unequivocal voice, tone and tenor of such a report can make the difference between getting an initial approval of an Application for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS, or a denial, resulting in the necessity of going to another stage of the process.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire