CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: The Treating Doctor

There is efficacy and motivational bias.  Sometimes, unintended consequences result in the coalescence of both, but where the result is unaffected by the underlying reason for acting upon an event.

In OWCP cases, the motivational bias almost always includes the intent of the Department of Labor to try and save money, and to steer the injured worker to undergo treatment (if one can call it that) and oversight with one of “the company” doctors who can quickly declare a person to be healed and ready for return to full-time duty, despite protestations of pain, discomfort and limitation of movement, all to the contrary.

It is no accident that the ever-present Worker’s Comp Nurse who infringes upon the patient-doctor relationship by imposing her presence upon each visit, agrees whole-heartedly with any such assessment of full recovery, and ignores the pleas of the patient/OWCP benefit-recipient.

By contrast, those who are filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, are encouraged to speak with their longstanding treating doctors, as opposed to merely going to a doctor whose motivational bias may stem from the source of one’s payment.

Treating doctors who have a long tenure of doctor-patient relationships have little underlying motivation to do anything but look out for the best interests of the patient.  If Disability Retirement is the best course, then that will be what the treating doctor will support.  It is ultimately the relationship that has been established over the many years, which makes for all the difference.  And that difference is worth its incalculable weight in gold.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

CSRS & FERS Medical Disability Retirement: Listening to the Doctor

It is amazing how unaware we often are of our very surroundings, even when the circumstances and scenario directly impact us.  Doctors see dozens of patients per day, and the administrative aspects of their medical practice rarely engender excitement; for, while being a proponent of a patient to assist in the entirety of the recuperative process, writing a medical narrative report is not the crux (for most doctors) of that process.

However, when a doctor makes statements which clearly reveal the extent of administrative support that they are willing to provide, it is time to listen.  For example, if your treating doctor says something to the effect of, “Your job is clearly killing you,” or “you shouldn’t be doing this line of work,” or sometimes even the non-subtle approach of:  “You need to medically retire” — the response for the Federal or Postal employee who is seeking to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits should not be one of remaining silent, unaware, smiling distractedly, or even responding with, “Yes, I know, but…” with a trail of silence.  

That scenario is precisely the moment to seize, and to say to the doctor, “Doctor, I think that you are right.  Will you be willing to write a medical narrative report which would support me in my quest to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits, which would then allow me to recuperate from my medical condition?”  Such a conversation must have the cooperative participation of both the doctor and the patient.  For, if the doctor does not bring the subject up, and the Federal or Postal employee begins the process of seeking to prepare, formulate and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, the type of conversation-opener described herein will have to take place, anyway.  

If the doctor brings up the subject during any clinical examination or encounter, the pursuance of such a conversation should be taken advantage of.  The old saying that the doctor knows best is certainly illustrated when one’s treating doctor has opened the door to supporting the Federal or Postal employee in the quest to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Chronic Medical Conditions

The concern is often expressed in the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, that if a medical condition has been suffered with for multiple years, and perhaps even “pre-existing” the time of Federal Service, and further, since the Federal or Postal employee has been able to perform the essential elements of the Federal or Postal job, how can it be characterized as a medical condition which prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job?  

The answer to such a concern is actually quite simple: The Federal or Postal employee has been able to manage life, activities and the essential elements of one’s job for multiple years; the chronicity of the condition is simply an inherent part of the nature of the particular medical condition; whether because of age, or slow, progressively deteriorating impact upon the body or psyche, the medical condition has ultimately taken its “toll” upon one’s physical, mental and/or emotional capacity of the Federal or Postal worker.  

Sometimes, there comes a point where the wall of tolerance to stress, pain or other increasingly debilitating symptoms can go no further.  The fact that the Federal or Postal worker has been able to perform the essential elements of the job for so many years is simply a testament to the endurance of the Federal or Postal Worker.  This is why it is important to maintain a blunt, honest and forthright line of communication with one’s treating doctor.  Often, the doctor will be the one who, for years, has encouraged the Federal or Postal worker to seek disability retirement.  

It may be that the time has come to take the doctor up on his or her advice, and to begin talking about the type of narrative and administrative support needed to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esqire