Permanent Medical Retirement from Federal Employment: Post-Separation Evidence

OPM ignores the law.  Despite over a decade since the opinion expressed in Reilly v. OPM, Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, 571 F.3d 1372 (Fed. Cir. 2009), the U.S. Office of Personnel Management continues to dismiss the relevance of post-separation medical evidence in a Federal or Postal Disability Retirement application.

OPM will systematically deny cases with the following type of statement: “You doctor stated X.  However, the medical report was dated after your separation from Federal Service.  Therefore, you did not establish that you were medically disabled from performing your job while a Federal employee.”  Huh?

Three things stand out, of course: First, most medical conditions are progressive and degenerative in nature and do not appear on the very day a doctor examines a patient.

Second, the clear logical error of OPM’s argument is so blatant: X exists. X exists after Time-Y. Therefore, because X exists after Time-Y, X did not exist prior to Time-Y.  Or: I saw a man named Tom. I saw Tom today and did not see him yesterday.  Therefore, Tom was not born before I saw him today.  Absurd.

And third: OPM ignores the law as stated in Reilly, where post-separation medical evidence is clearly relevant if a proper nexus is established to a pre-separation time-frame.

Don’t let OPM’s illogical interpretation of the law defeat you.  Contact an attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement, and beat them back in order to obtain the benefits you are entitled to.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement: The Law

I will be writing an article of greater length on this issue, but suffice it for now that when “the law” works, it works well. A major second case has been decided in favor of the Federal employee — first, it was Vanieken-Ryals v. OPM, 508 F.3d 1034 (Fed. Cir. 2007), and now, Sylvia M. Reilly v. OPM, decided July 15, 2009. Vanieken-Ryals toppled the irrational imposition of a baseless standard by OPM — that there is a distinction to be made between “objective” as opposed to “subjective” evidence concerning medical evidence (example of the absurdity: How do you prove the existence of pain? While an MRI may show a physical condition, you cannot prove that such a physical condition equates to debilitating pain, leaving aside any quantification of pain. Similarly, how do you prove the existence of Major Depression? Anxiety? Panic attacks?).

Now, Reilly v. OPM has toppled another idol of a false standard imposed by OPM: that medical documentation which post-dates separation from Federal Service is near-irrelevant. This has never made sense, for at least 2 reasons: first, since a person is allowed to file for Federal Disability Retirement within 1 year of being separated from service, why would medical documentation dated after the separation be considered irrelevant? Second, medical conditions rarely appear suddenly. Most conditions are progressive and degenerative in nature, and indeed, that is what the Court in Reilly argues. Grant another win for the Federal employee, the law, and the process of law. It makes being a lawyer worthwhile when “the law” works.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire