Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Extending the Bridge

In formulating a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is always important to think of the “nexus”, or the bridge which one constructs between the positional duties of one’s job with the Agency, and the medical conditions which prevent the Federal or Postal Worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of those positional duties, as a continuum, as opposed to a singular event.

Thus, during the waiting period once the Office of Personnel Management assigns a CSA Number, and the issuance of a decision (whether an initial approval or a denial; if the latter, then one should obviously file a Request for Reconsideration within the allotted 30-day time period), there is always an opportunity to file additional and supplemental medical and other supporting documentation, in order to “extend” or reinforce that bridge.

Such documentation could include continuing treatment & office notes; any updated diagnostic testing results; any actions by the agency which would imply or otherwise reveal an increasing severity of the medical condition and the acknowledgment by the agency of the medical conditions, including the results of “Fitness for Duty” examinations, letter of proposed removal, withdrawing of medical certification, etc.; and other supporting documentation.

Of course, the general rule is that one cannot “add” to the identified medical conditions which one has established in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (SF 3112A); however, one can reinforce and extend the strength of the bridge.

Remembering this distinction can help to solidify and exponentially increase the chances of an initial approval from the Office of Personnel Management, in the period of waiting for that decision.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Federal Disability Retirement: Taking Advantage of the Long Wait

Preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS should not be viewed as a singular event with a distinct and bifurcating cut-off date, where once the medical documentation has been filed with the Office of Personnel Management, it is merely a long process of inactivity in waiting.  

The circumstances at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management have obviously changed.  A few years ago, the expected “wait-time” once a CSA number was assigned to a case, was approximately 60 – 90 days.  That period of waiting has now been extended, and extended considerably, for reasons which the Office of Personnel Management have cited as a “backlog of cases”.  

Because of those changed circumstances, it is wise to take advantage of the wait period by recognizing and bringing together various elements of a Federal Disability Retirement case:  since one’s medical condition must last a minimum of 12 months, and because the waiting time with OPM has been extended, it is probably a good idea to continue to “supplement” the medical records with the Office of Personnel Management, by forwarding, faxing, mailing, etc., any updated medical records, treatment notes, office notes, surgical operative notes; clinical examination records; any functional capacity evaluations, etc.  

Any medical notations which show the continuing care, treatment and inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, will only reinforce and strengthen the argument that (A) one has a medical condition such that one cannot perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, and (2) that as a continuing medical condition, it is not only lasting a minimum of 12 months, but is factually a chronic and continuing medical condition.

 Take advantage of the longer wait period, by actively engaging in the management of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.  

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire