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

Disability Retirement for Federal Government Employees: Priority and Importance

In preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to always distinguish between two conceptual paradigms:  priority of an issue, and the importance of an issue.

While gathering the proper evidence and substantiating medical documentation is of importance, it should not be the priority.  The priority — that which should precede another — should be to take care of the medical condition itself (i.e., to get the proper treatment modalities, to undergo the necessary diagnostic tests, to follow the treatment regimen of the doctor, etc.).

At some point, of course, the question will arise:  Is it time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement under FERS or CSRS?  Can I continue to work at my job?  Is my job performance suffering?  At that critical juncture, then the issue of importance may arise.  While priority has to do with that which is first in a series of issues, the concept of “importance” can entail multiple issues all at once.

Once the question of “whether” is answered in the affirmative, then one must begin to approach the doctor for his or her support; to begin to annotate how the medical condition is impacting one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, etc.  All throughout, of course, the priority of getting the proper medical care is paramount.  Everything else is secondary, but other things can concurrently be of importance.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Shotgun v. Tailored Approach

In filing a Federal Disability Retirement application, there is the “shotgun approach” — of peppering the application with any and all medical conditions which may prevent or otherwise impact one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.  The danger of this approach, of course, is that the Office of Personnel Management can (and does) stop at the first medical condition which they deem disables the applicant from performing any of the essential elements of one’s job. If the basis of such a disability retirement approval is a secondary, or somewhat inconsequential medical condition, then there is the danger in the future that, if you receive a Medical Questionnaire requesting an update on your medical condition, that you may have recovered from such a secondary medical condition and deemed to have been fully recovered.  Now, every now and then, in the approval letter issued by the Office of Personnel Management, it will not specify which medical condition was the basis for the approval which was rendered.  However, this is in a minority of approval letters, and is not worthwhile enough to consider taking a chance on such a shotgun approach.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement Benefits for Federal & Postal Employees: The Necessary Point

Obviously, the recommendation would be to have a Federal or Postal Attorney from the beginning of the process in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS; however, each individual must make the determination as to what and wherein lies the necessary point of obtaining an attorney experienced in the area. 

The problem which often arises is that each individual who personally experiences the medical conditions which impact his or her life, as the identical person who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, feels that his or her disability retirement case is a “sure thing“.  It is difficult to bifurcate and distinguish between the two:  he who feels the direct impact of a medical condition will always be the only person who “knows” how that medical condition directly impacts his or her life, as distinguished from whether or not such facts and circumstances can be properly conveyed in a convincing and persuasive manner to the Office of Personnel Management.  Of course, the one point of necessity is if a case needs to be filed with the Merit Systems Protection Board.  An attorney is not only a necessity; it is almost impossible, in my humble opinion, for an appellant to go forward on his or her own.  On the other hand, I believe the same at each point in the process.  But the “necessary point” can only be determined by each individual.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire