I have often spoken of the need to take the “long-term” view in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS — both in terms of having patience for the inherently long process in terms of time, as well as in terms of preparing a case for not just the First Stage of the process, but further, for the second Reconsideration Stage, as well as for an Appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board. This “long-term” view is meant to prepare a potential applicant for what it means to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits; to not be overly concerned if you are denied at the first, or even the second stage of the process; and to be prepared financially to weather the “long haul”. In short, it is meant to prepare the potential applicant for the long, and longer, view of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.
It is also necessary, however, to prepare one’s self for the “longest” view — that of maintaining and keeping safe the disability retirement benefits once it is approved — by preparing to be randomly selected every two years or so with a periodic “review” with a Medical Questionnaire. The Medical Questionnaire is an innocuous looking form, asking for an “update”, and giving you 90 days to respond. Be cautious. Be aware. Take it seriously. Don’t wait for the 89th day to begin responding to it. None of my clients who have gotten his or her Federal Disability Retirement benefits has ever lost it; people who have gotten Federal Disability Retirement benefits on their own and have later lost the benefit, have come to me to regain it; I have been successful in recovering the benefit, in every case. However, it is not always easy — if only because the disability annuitant initially thought that it was an “easy-looking” form. Preparation for the “longest view” begins not upon receipt of the Medical Questionnaire; it begins at the very, very beginning — when one first decides to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire