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.
Sometimes, stating the obvious is necessary. In filing for FERS Disability Retirement benefits, and in dealing with the Office of Personnel Management, “stating the obvious” becomes not only a necessity, but a truism encapsulated in profundity surrounded by a simple rule: the greater the obviousness, the more effective the Federal Disability Retirement application.
For the applicant who files for Federal Disability benefits, who is unrepresented, it is best not to act as a lawyer. While case-law and statutes abound as free information on the internet (and such information and discussion is certainly available on my website at the Federal Disability Lawyer blog and in various articles I have written on the subject), misinterpretation, misunderstanding, or mis-citation of cases, statutes, rules or regulations can easily be engaged in.
While generally harmless, and further, since many at the Office of Personnel Management are not even aware of the laws and case-laws governing the very subject which they are supposed to rule upon, what is the point (one might ask)?
The obvious point is for the future — to always predicate a case upon the simple truism that one stage in the process may not be enough, and so building a foundation for the next stage, and the stage after that, by preserving the legal and factual arguments for an eventual appeal, is always a necessary evil one must perform. State the obvious — and state it multiple times.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
FERS Disability Retirement Lawyer
||The information that appears in this blog is copyrighted. Also, these articles may have been previously published in other Federal Disability Retirement websites by the same author or by other third-party publications.
There is a distinction to be made between one’s medical history and an extensive discussion of workplace issues which may have contributed to a causal impetus for a medical condition.
The Office of Personnel Management is rarely interested in receiving information concerning the history or causation of a medical condition — especially from the Applicant in a Federal Disability Retirement application. While the treating doctor may briefly refer to the historical genesis of a medical condition in a narrative report, it is the focus of the present-to-recent-past impact of one’s medical conditions upon the essential elements of one’s job which the Office of Personnel Management is interested in reviewing.
Again, remember that a Federal Disability Retirement application is a “paper presentation” to an onerous, overbearing and overworked Federal bureaucracy, where one’s private affairs (the most private of all — one’s medical conditions and their impact upon one’s personal and professional conduct of affairs) are to be presented, received, and ultimately reviewed.
History of the inception, origin and impact of a medical condition may be peripherally relevant to the treating doctor, and it would be appropriate to include such historical background in a medical report; but for the Applicant, to delve too deeply and extensively upon such historical context may place the peripheral into a central focus where it should not be.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Retirement Attorney
Information here do not constitute legal advice or legal opinions. Material presented in this blog may or may have not been previously published in the author’s other websites including but not limiting to the Federal Disability Lawyer website, the OPM Disability Retirement blog, Federal Disability Attorney and other resources in the Internet.