Dealing with the Reluctant Doctor — one who presumably has been treating the potential applicant for Federal Disability Retirement benefits for at least several months, but often for several years — is a rather “touchy” subject.
On the one hand, the build-up of confidence, confidentiality, and security developed over many years of having a doctor-patient relationship is at stake; on the other hand, the Federal or Postal employee has come to a critical point in his or her future, career and professional life, where the support of the treating doctor in the preparation, formulation and filing of a Federal Disability Retirement application has become necessary.
Doctors, by nature dislike the administrative aspects of preparing lengthy medical narrative reports. Yet, most doctors recognize the necessity of that aspect of their practice, and are willing to perform the service as part of their duty to their patients. A diplomatic, sensitive balance must be struck, but one that is honest and placed within the appropriate context of one’s health and future well-being.
In essence, the doctor must be asked about his or her support in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, but in the context of a larger discussion concerning one’s health, treatment modalities, permanency and chronicity of disabling medical conditions, and future treatment. In essence, the “reluctant doctor” must be persuaded to disrobe his or her reluctance, for the sake of the patient’s health.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire