By Elliott Andalman, Esq., 301.563.6685
An application for FERS disability retirement by federal or postal workers is like a stool with three legs.
It requires the correct information from three sources to have a strong application: (1) you, the applicant; (2) the Agency where you work; and (3) the physician(s) who treat you.
We have written elsewhere about the importance of forms from your Agency, particularly the Supervisor Statement and the Agency Certification of Reassignment and Accommodation Efforts. We have also written about the importance of not resigning and the positive impact a removal for medical inability to work can have on your application.
But your physician’s statement is often the most crucial document in your application. Your application must establish that you are medically disabled to perform your job and that said disability will last more than a year.
Most denial decisions by OPM rely on or include a finding that the medical evidence does not establish this sufficiently.
OPM will not obtain medical evidence for applicants, and neither will your Agency. Applicants are responsible for obtaining the medical evidence themselves. Furthermore, OPM prefers physician statements that are dated before any separation date. That is one reason we recommend that you retain experienced counsel to help you with your initial applications and not just on appeals.
OPM has created a Physician’s Statement Form, SF 3112C. Unfortunately, it is not as helpful as it should be. In general, you must submit clinical records from your treating doctor(s) and a detailed report from at least one treating doctor that supports your application. A short medical report merely stating the doctor’s conclusion that you are disabled is insufficient. In general, the report must include the following:
- A brief history;
- A description of your symptoms;
- A statement of your diagnoses;
- A description of what test results support the diagnoses;
- A description of treatment provided for the diagnoses;
- A description of what limitations on activities you have as a result of your symptoms;
- An explanation of which of your essential job duties you cannot perform and why;
- An opinion that your disability to perform these job duties will last more than a year;
- A specific prognosis.
It is vital to get this type of report before you resign. It is, unfortunately, complicated to get it right. And it can be challenging to get busy doctors to prepare the necessary support. That is one of the reasons we recommend that you seek experienced counsel such as we provide at Andalman & Flynn to assist you and your doctor.
Also, too many employees who are sick, struggling to work, and taking flak at work because they are sick and struggling to work, decide to resign. Don’t do it! If you do nothing else, call a lawyer before you resign!
At Andalman & Flynn, we have over 30 years of experience helping hundreds of federal and postal workers win disability retirement. As part of our assistance with your application, we will help make sure that you have the medical evidence you need. We will also assist you with the requirement to explore accommodations and reassignment so that you will have the support of your Agency on your application.
At Andalman & Flynn, we want you to have all three legs of the stool in place when you file your application so that you will maximize your chances of approval by OPM.
About Andalman & Flynn, P.C.: Andalman & Flynn, P.C. serves clients throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia, offering compassionate, quality service and results-driven representation across a broad range of legal areas. With a concentration on disability benefits law and family law, the firm focuses on cases that impact the rights of everyone, and they are there for clients when responsive legal help is most critical. For more information about Andalman & Flynn, please visit our website or call 301.563.6685.