Federal Disability Retirement – Knowledge is the key to success

Ultimately, a federal disability retirement is a benefit that must be fought for and secured in order to achieve a level of financial security for one’s future. The questions that are asked upon first exposure to an interfering medical condition that results in an inability to perform one or more essential elements of one’s function are varied and manifold. Where to go for the answers, who to trust, and then decide what accurate and useful knowledge are, are the keys to successful application of Federal Disability Retirement Benefits for Federal and Postal Employees under FERS and CSRS.

The Internet has boomed and expanded. Information on any topic is just a Google search away. However, a distinction must always be made between information and knowledge. A large amount of information on any topic does not necessarily result in knowledge of the topic. This adage holds true in the field of information and knowledge regarding federal and postal disability retirement.

Initially, one must determine the type, extent, and severity of the medical condition. Thus, is the medical condition physical in nature, psychological in nature, or is there a combination of physical and psychological medical conditions? If a physical condition, do the medical conditions affect the individual’s ability to perform one or more essential elements of the individual’s work? Does the job itself – the job description – have physical demands that are affected by certain medical conditions? If you were a psychiatrist, were appropriate treatments used – were psychoactive medications prescribed? Did psychotherapeutic interventions occur?

Proper medical documentation is critical to establishing the compilation of an effective federal disability retirement application. Note the difference between “medical treatment” and “medical documentation”. Such a distinction cannot be easily overlooked. Although the attending physician may be the best orthopedist in the world, or a top-notch neurosurgeon, if that same physician is unwilling to draft a proper medical narrative report and take it at the time, that specialization of knowledge and experience is ineffective in preparing and submit a federal disability retirement application.

A federal disability retirement application is a paper submission. Thus, as part of compiling a federal disability retirement application, the two most important components are: (1) supporting medical documentation and (2) the applicant’s statement of disability (Standard Form 3112A, for both FERS and CSRS employees). As a paper submission, with no clinical examinations by a physician in the Office of Personnel Management (the agency that reviews and decides to approve or deny all federal disability retirement applications under FERS or CSRS, for both federal and postal employees), a description of medical conditions, and the impact of medical conditions on Inability of the individual to perform one or more of the essential elements of the individual’s job – all of which must be effectively conveyed in the medical narrative reports, as well as in the applicant’s statement of disability. Thus, knowledge is the path to success, and this knowledge must be adequately and descriptively conveyed to the Personnel Management Office.

Note the important differences between applying for federal disability retirement and applying for OWCP (workers’ comp) benefits. Workers’ comp is not a retirement system; It is intended to temporarily compensate the injured worker for the purpose of rehabilitation and eventual return to the workplace; Injury causation can be an important issue; And a person seeking workers’ comp compensation may be examined by a doctor who is not your attending physician – what is often called a “second opinion” or “independent medical examination” and, moreover, by a “referee” or third opinion doctor. Also, one should not be surprised if the OWCP sends a nurse to visit you during your clinical meetings with your attending physician.

One question often asked is whether a certain type or type of medical condition “qualifies” for federal disability retirement benefits. OPM Disability Retirement cares little about the official diagnosis; Instead, what is a greater focus in federal disability retirements includes the underlying symptoms of the medical condition (or conditions), and their effect on an individual’s ability to perform one or more essential elements of one’s job. Thus, some common physical conditions may include (but are not limited to): cervical, lumbar, or thoracic disabilities. Shoulder impingement syndrome. carpal tunnel syndrome plantar fasciitis; Migraine; Systemic lupus different heart problems. Chronic fatigue syndrome. multiple chemical sensitivity; Parkinson’s disease; fibromyalgia; And many, many medical conditions. Note that the significance of such medical conditions does not lie in the “official” diagnosis; Rather, what is important are the symptoms, which then affect the individual’s physical inability to perform one or more essential elements of one’s functioning.

Similarly, in psychiatric conditions—from major depression, anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder—to paranoia, ADHD, schizophrenia, and suicidal or homicidal ideation: Cognitive dysfunction, the inability to concentrate, focus, and the ability to perform intense cognitive work, or work that requires daily and sustained focus and attention, is an important focal point of the described and identified medical conditions.

Ultimately, it is the cumulative knowledge of multiple factors that will ensure the success of a federal disability retirement application under FERS or CSRS submitted to the Office of Personnel Management. Knowledge is obtained through a combined combination of knowledge of medical conditions, obtaining an appropriate medical narrative and documentation that will enhance the individual’s susceptibility to a statement of disability, as described in Standard Form 3112A. Since knowledge is the path to success, proper knowledge of medical issues, legal tools, and effective documentation collection will provide greater success in obtaining approval for your federal disability retirement application.