To the question relevant to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, as in, “What are your medical conditions?” — the potential applicant will often state the following: “Well, it is an OWCP-accepted case…” Such an answer may or may not be relevant.
OWCP under FECA (“Worker’s Comp”) is on a different benefit track from Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, as approved or denied by the Office of Personnel Management. In many ways, the different processes are completely separate and apart. One cannot receive both benefits concurrently. One must choose between one or the other. Theoretically, one can switch from one to the other, then back again, but in practical terms, it is difficult because of the headaches involved in stopping one and starting the other. One can, however, pursue both tracks of benefits concurrently; it is just that one must choose between the two if both are accepted.
Now, this doesn’t mean, however, that one cannot “use” certain medical documentation to the advantage of the other process. Thus, for instance, I have often used OWCP “Second Opinion” or “Independent Medical Examination” reports in helping to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS. What an irony — because we all know how “independent” second-opinion doctors are; yet, when such an “independent” doctor provides an opinion in the client’s favor, there is nothing wrong with using it to the client’s advantage when filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire