In almost all instances, stating the obvious when filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits is the rule to follow. Another simple rule to follow: Keep it Simple. Except in special circumstances (e.g., where there is a nebulous diagnosis and one must interweave multiple symptmatologies in order to bypass the possibility that you may be later precluded from “adding” a “new” medical condition, etc.), it is best to stick to a paradigm of a 1-to-1 ratio or correspondence of medical conditions, symptoms, impact upon work, etc.
Such a template can be dangerous to follow, however, because any Applicant’s Statement of one’s disability should never appear mechanical or stilted in its tone and tenor. Emotionalism should not be stripped from an Applicant’s Statement of one’s disability in a Federal Disability Retirement application and, indeed, sterility should not be a goal to be sought.
That goal should be from the treating doctor, where technical medical terms present a sense of diagnostic objectivity and scientific validity. But such simple rules as presenting the correspondence between specific physical conditions with the physical requirements of one’s job, and similarly, between specific psychiatric symptoms with the cognitive requirements of one’s job, is an important “rule” to follow.
Remember, however, that filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS is not a “perfect science”; in fact, it is not a science at all, but a mix between law, personal input, and medical facts, with the creative force of persuasion.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer
||The content of this blog may include FERS Disability articles previously published in other websites by the same author. While we do our best to maintain our content updated, laws and rules are constantly changing, and therefore we can’t guarantee the accuracy of the information presented in this website. You may, however, contact the author, Attorney Robert R. McGill, if you have any specific questions about current laws and regulations and to request a general evaluation of your Federal Disability Retirement case.
In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the issue of “accommodations” will necessarily surface, if only because the Agency must complete SF 3112D — the Form which is entitled, “Agency Certification of Reassignment and Accommodation Efforts” (which bureaucrat came up with that title?).
Agencies will often choose the wrong box to check because they will either misread the choices or misunderstand what the statements mean. For instance, in the third choice of Question 4, it states, “Yes, describe below the accommodation efforts made, attach supporting documentation and provide narrative analysis of any unsuccessful accommodation efforts.” The problem with the choice itself is that the entire concept of “accommodations” has been clarified, modified, and thoroughly discussed in cases which have been brought before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and such court opinions have been issued subsequent to the original meaning of the term when the Standard Form was first issued.
But when the Agency completes the form, they will often answer the question in terms of “allowing for liberal use of sick leave” or “letting the employee refrain from doing X, Y or Z”, etc. But allowing for temporary, light duty work does not constitute a “legal accommodation“, and thus does not go to the requested information. In fact, the loosely-used term of “accommodation” is actually no accommodation at all.
What to do about it when it happens? One must be discreet in how to approach it. For most cases, the agency’s lack of understanding will have no impact at all, and it should not be responded to. In other instances…
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer
||Materials and information on this blog are provided for informational purposes only, are general in nature, and do not constitute a legal opinion or legal advice and should not be construed as a legal opinion or legal advice. For more specific information, or to discuss the specifics of your case, you may contact the author for a free, first-time phone consultation.
It is amazing how a Supervisor’s Statement is completed. Normally, it is completed without much thought; sometimes, it is completed with too much thought (and self-protective, CYA language concerning how much effort the agency attempted in “accommodating” the employee, when in fact little or no effort was made); more often than not, there is a last, parting shot at the employee — some unnecessary “dig” which often contradicts other portions of the statement; and, finally, every now and then, the Supervisor’s Statement is completed in the proper manner, with forethought and truthfulness.
Fortunately, the Office of Personnel Management rarely puts much weight on a Supervisor’s Statement in making a determination on a FERS Disability Retirement application — unless there is some glaring statement of a deliberate attempt to undermine the Application. This is rare, because it is a medical disability retirement, not a Supervisor’s disability retirement — meaning, that it is the medical opinion, not the opinion of a Supervisor, which is (and should be) most important.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Attorney
The material provided in this blog has been updated from previous publications such as the Federal Disability Attorney blog and the Lawyers.com blog.