Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Extending the Bridge

In formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is always important to think of the “nexus”, or the bridge which one constructs between the positional duties of one’s job with the Agency, and the medical conditions which prevent the Federal or Postal Worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of those positional duties, as a continuum, as opposed to a singular event.

Thus, during the waiting period once the Office of Personnel Management assigns a CSA Number, and the issuance of a decision (whether an initial approval or a denial; if the latter, then one should obviously file a Request for Reconsideration within the allotted 30-day time period), there is always an opportunity to file additional and supplemental medical and other supporting documentation, in order to “extend” or reinforce that bridge.

Such documentation could include continuing treatment & office notes; any updated diagnostic testing results; any actions by the agency which would imply or otherwise reveal an increasing severity of the medical condition and the acknowledgment by the agency of the medical conditions, including the results of “Fitness for Duty” examinations, letter of proposed removal, withdrawing of medical certification, etc.; and other supporting documentation.

Of course, the general rule is that one cannot “add” to the identified medical conditions which one has established in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A); however, one can reinforce and extend the strength of the bridge.

Remembering this distinction can help to solidify and exponentially increase the chances of an initial approval from the Office of Personnel Management, in the period of waiting for that decision.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: OPM’s Methodology II

When the Office of Personnel Management approves an OPM disability retirement application, as I stated in the previous article (OPM’s Methodology), they will normally choose to approve it based upon only one of the listed disabilities. This is because, from OPM’s viewpoint, if the applicant lists multiple medical disabilities, once OPM reaches any one of the listed disabilities and finds that one of them is a basis for an approval, there is no further need for OPM to review the remaining medical conditions.

This methodology requires that future applicants consider the consequences of such a method: it is essential that the applicant base a disability retirement application upon only essential, significant medical conditions, normally best to list them in the order of significance, and further, to document a case in the order of severity.

While I have not heard of a disability retirement application being approved based upon a non-essential, minor medical condition, it is wise not to rely upon the off-chance that OPM might base an approval upon a medical condition that is somewhat “thrown in” as an afterthought, into the applicant’s statement of disability. In other words, it is not a good idea to “throw in the kitchen sink” at the last moment, thinking that by multiplying the quantity of medical conditions listed, that OPM will see how “serious” one’s medical condition is. Remember, it is not the totality of many medical conditions that is important; rather, it is the list, however small, of those medical conditions that prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.

Sincerely,
Robert R. McGill, Esquire