Tag Archives: FERS Disability Retirement medical documentation

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.

Continuing Your Medical Care

A medical condition never has a simple solution; depending upon the nature, extent and severity of the condition, it must be “managed” and attended to throughout one’s life.  Similarly, while “filing” for one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit is an “event” which may constitute a series of actions which results in the “approval” of a Federal benefit, the benefit itself must be “managed” and cared for throughout a process of continuing retentive procedures.

One cannot assume that once the benefit of FERS Disability Retirement is obtained — given the hard fight which one must engage in — that the process is thereby over.  That is the reason why the foundational building-blocks which form the underlying administrative process — of the decision of which initial medical conditions to include in one’s Statement of Disability; which medical evidentiary documentation to include; how one should linguistically characterize the impact of the medical condition upon one’s job, tasks, positional duties, etc. — is of great importance in establishing the pattern of management for the future.

For, as other issues, both economic and medical, may potentially intrude upon one’s Federal or Postal Disability Retirement annuity (i.e., whether one has earned income above or below the 80% rule; whether one has been restored medically such that OPM could argue for termination of one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit, etc.), it is important to maintain a stance of managing one’s Federal Disability Retirement benefit throughout one’s life, until one reaches the bifurcation point at age 62 where it becomes “converted” to regular retirement.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Attorney

FERS Disability Retirement is a benefit awarded to all Federal and Postal employees meeting the criteria of “disability”, a term which has a special definition under FERS Disability Retirement Laws.  It doesn’t mean that the employee must be “totally disabled”; rather, “disability” is loosely defined as an injury or illness that affects the performance of the main work tasks assigned to a Federal employee.  Thus, while a particular physical condition may qualify a Postal Carrier, the same condition may not qualify an Intelligence Officer working in an office environment.  For an individual assessment of your case, contact the author for a first-time consultation to help you to establish your eligibility.

Providing Medical Information

In every area of law, in most facets of life, and certainly in the administrative procedures of preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits either under FERS with the Office of Personnel Management, one must determine the extent, scope and substance of the information which will be provided to the requesting entity.

Most of the time, the extent of information is pre-determined by the requirements which must be satisfied.  Similarly, the scope of the information to be submitted must meet certain criteria, but additionally, it will depend upon the question asked.  More importantly, the substance of the information one needs to provide, will be determined by the question asked, the criteria to be addressed, and the statutory and regulatory guidelines which must be met — in the case of FERS Disability Retirement, that which would meet the legal standard of “preponderance of the evidence.”

In venturing and maneuvering through the administrative process of applying for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, however, there will be times when either the Agency or the Office of Personnel Management may request “additional” information, indicating that they are not satisfied with what has been submitted.

An appraisal of what information is being asked; whether the question is properly formulated as posed, or whether it can be reformulated and still satisfied; and the harm or good in responding fully or partially to the request — these are all determinations which are best guided by the advice and counsel of an attorney who understands the laws governing the legal criteria in Federal Disability Retirement cases.

Not every question deserves a full answer.  Sometimes, the question itself must be re-formulated and answered in the re-formulated format.  Agencies are not gods; they are not omnipotent, and certainly not omniscient.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer

While we strive to keep legal information on the blog accurate and up to date, we do not give any assurances and will not be responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of the information published in this blog.  Instead, you should contact the author for information about specific laws and trends with the Office of Personnel Management or to discuss the particulars of your case with a free (30 minutes) telephone consultation.

Discretionary Judgments

There are many things in the long process of getting a Federal Disability Retirement application approved, which are purely “discretionary”, based upon one’s experience, sense of a case, an ear to listening to a client, and based upon a compendium of factors, facts and circumstances, to come up with the “best” decision on a particular issue. A person who tries to go through the process alone, without the ear, mind, experience or judgment of an attorney who knows the process governing Federal Disability Retirement has to make such discretionary decisions without the benefit of past experiences.

Such decisions can range from small issues of: how and when a treating doctor should be approached in the request for a medical narrative; how much guidance the doctor would need or want in preparing a medical narrative report; when and how to inform the agency of the pending decision to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, etc.; to the larger decisions, such as which medical conditions and reports to include in the final packet to be submitted to the Office of Personnel Management; and many other such discretionary decisions. Yet, when grouped together, the complex interactions of the multiple “discretionary judgments” can often make or break a case.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Benefits Lawyer

Filing for FERS Disability Retirement is not a decision that should be made lightly.  Whatever your circumstances are, consider every aspect of the application, the process, and your individual situation before making a final decision.  Set up an appointment over the phone with Attorney McGill to review your case so that he can help you to assess your chances of getting approved.  It’s easy, convenient and free for first-time consultations. 

OWCP Determinations

The key to effectively using collateral sources of disability determinations in a FERS Disability Retirement application is to tailor its relevance in each individual circumstance.

Thus, for example, because the focus upon percentages of disability, or the issue of causal connection to the workplace, is a focal point of importance in an OWCP/Department of Labor case, but not in cases of Federal Employee Disability Retirement.  Such issues should be left alone.  However, the fact that there may be an “independent medical examination” by a Second-Opinion doctor, or a referee doctor in a Worker’s Comp case, can be used to one’s advantage.

Often, a person who has been under the agonizing scrutiny and torture of the Worker’s Comp process will miss the point, and complain that the OWCP-appointed doctor “didn’t even exam me for 2 minutes”, or “didn’t listen to a thing I said,” but all the while missing the key ingredients in the doctor’s report:

(1) That the doctor can be effectively characterized as “independent” — not from an OWCP standpoint, but certainly from a FERS Disability Retirement standpoint, because that particular doctor has no self-interest from OPM’s viewpoint.

(2) If the doctor’s opinion is that, while the causal connection (for example) may not have been established, does he nevertheless express an opinion that the Federal or Postal employee is unable to return to perform the essential functions of his or her job?

Often, the emotional uproar in an OWCP case, or in other similar cases (SSDI & Veteran’s Department disability determinations) causes the Federal or Postal employee to miss the primary point of the process: to use the tools effectively in getting a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS approved.  With that goal in mind, an experienced FERS Disability Retirement Attorney can help you to evaluate your medical records to identify which ones you should use as supporting documentation for your Federal Disability Retirement claim.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer

The law office of Attorney Robert R. McGill, P.C., has intended to convey general information by the information contained in this blog. The information contained in this website should in no way be construed as legal advice or opinion. The intent of this website is a source for general information about Federal Disability Retirement law only.