I get calls all the time by people who tell me that they thought their particular Federal Disability Retirement case was a “slam dunk”; that the medical documentation was there; that everything looked like it should be approved at the first level. Then, there are people who tell me the same thing after the second, Reconsideration denial — that he or she thought it should definitely pass through. But law, and especially administrative law before the Office of Personnel Management, has peculiarities beyond a surface, apparent reality. There is a process and a methodology of obtaining disability retirement. Can a federal disability attorney guarantee the success of a disability retirement application? No. Does an individual applicant have a better chance with the assistance of an attorney who specializes in disability retirement law? In most cases, yes. Aren’t there applicants who file for disability retirement, without the assistance of an attorney, who are successful? Yes. Should everyone who files for disability retirement hire an attorney? Not necessarily.
When I speak to a client, I try and place him or her on a spectrum — and on one side of that spectrum is an individual who works at a very physical job, and who has such egregious physical medical disabilities; on the other side of the spectrum is an individual who suffers from Anxiety, who works in a sedentary administrative position (please don’t misunderstand — many people who suffer from anxiety fall into the “serious” side of the spectrum, and I am in no way attempting to minimize the psychiatric disability of Anxiety). Most people, of course, fall somewhere in the middle. Yes, I have told many people to go and file his or her disability retirement application without an attorney. There are those cases which are so egregious, in terms of medical conditions, that I do not believe than an attorney is necessary. However, such instances are rare. Thus, to the question, Should everyone who files for Federal disability retirement under FERS & CSRS hire an attorney? Not necessarily — but in most cases, yes.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire