The Office of Personnel Management will often request that a doctor’s “office” or “treatment” notes be attached for approximately the last 1 – 2 years. What is the purpose of this request? Normally, to compare whether or not the doctor’s treatment notes reveal the consistency with what is stated in the narrative report prepared by the doctor. This is often unfair, of course, because the purpose of office notes is quite different from the purpose behind a narrative report requested to support a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS.
Office notes often reflect a cursory overview of the type of treatment rendered, and will sometimes contain statements of the positive advances and treatment responses of the patient/applicant, including any progress made in response to therapy, surgery, treatment, and medication regimens. Thus, statements such as, “patient is showing good progress” or “Patient comes in today feeling much better” may be used by the Office of Personnel Management to deny a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, and yet such statements must always be seen within the context of treatment, and in no way are inconsistent with a medical narrative report which clearly and unequivocally shows that a Federal or Postal employee is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job. Next: How to overcome OPM’s unwarranted focus upon the Office/Treatment notes.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire