Tag Archives: Avoiding excuses for OPM to deny your FERS Disability Retirement annuity

Doctor Office Notes

The Office of Personnel Management, in reviewing a FERS Disability Retirement application, will often request to see the doctor’s office/progress notes, detailing the history of treatment for the previous 18 months.

Such scrutiny of clinical notations made by the treating doctor is meant to verify and validate the statements made by the doctor in his or her medical narrative report, to see if there are internal contradictions between the clinical notes and the narrative report prepared for purposes of obtaining Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  Such a review of clinical notes can be an unfair process, precisely because they are being reviewed with a paradigmatic purpose in mind: to “find” any inherently contradictory remarks or evidence which conflicts with statements made in the primary medical report.

Thus, reviewing the medical notes in a vacuum, outside of the context of the entirety of treatment, and with the intention and motive of seeking out any “discrepancies”, will sometimes result in a denial based upon selective interpretation of the office/progress notes.  Statements such as, “medications are helping”, “patient notes feeling better”, “Is sleeping much better”, can provide a false picture of the actual progress of the Federal Disability Retirement applicant.  Indeed, such a skewed picture will often come up in the denial letter issued by the Office of Personnel Management, where the denial letter will selectively quote from the progress notes.

This reminds one of a particular case where the Office of Personnel Management quoted from clinical notes, statements made by the applicant: “Feeling much better”; “Making great progress”; “overall doing very well.”  The problem, however, is that the applicant was permanently in a wheelchair, and the job was that of a Law Enforcement Officer. It was denied at the Initial Stage; at Reconsideration, when the pertinent facts were pointed out to OPM, it was quickly approved.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer

FERS Disability Retirement is a benefit available to Federal Civil Service employees and U.S. Postal workers who meet certain medical and legal requirements.  To find out if you’d qualify for Federal Disability Retirement, please contact Attorney Robert R. McGill for a personal assessment of your case.

Preempting OPM’s Arguments

It is important at all stages of a FERS Disability Retirement application for Federal employees to predict, anticipate, and preempt the arguments which the Office of Personnel Management may make, will make, and can be expected to make.  Obviously, the three main areas of such concern are: Sufficiency of medical documentation; Agency efforts for accommodation and reassignment; the impact and interconnection between one’s medical condition(s) and the positional duties of one’s job.

However, there are multiple other areas, and it is the job of an applicant filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, or his/her attorney, to anticipate the areas of OPM’s concerns, and to address them both factually and legally — the latter, by pointing out statutory authorities and case-law holdings directly or implicitly touching upon those very areas of concern.  Further, one should never be fooled if, in an initial denial of a FERS Disability Retirement application, the substance of a denial is fairly short or if it is detailed and lengthy; the content of a denial letter should not determine the extent of a response by an applicant at the Reconsideration Stage.

Instead, whether short, of “middle length”, or extremely detailed, a response should anticipate all areas of concern, and the applicant who is attempting to secure an approval for his or her Federal Disability Retirement benefits should always preempt any potential areas for a further denial.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer

Federal Disability Retirement laws and rules are constantly changing and evolving. This is one of the reasons why we can’t guarantee the accuracy of the information found here.  Some of these legal articles might have been previously published in other websites such as the Federal Disability Attorney blog or the Federal Disability Lawyer website.  If you have questions about these articles and need to have an expert opinion about your chances of getting an early retirement due to your medical conditions, please contact the author for a free and confidential evaluation of your current situation.