A question I often ask the treating doctor at the end of a Hearing before an Administrative Judge at the Merit Systems Protection Board (obviously for Disability Retirement benefits under FERS & CSRS) is: Do you have an opinion as to whether Mr. X/Ms. Y is a malingerer? The reason I ask such a question is to establish in the mind of the Administrative Judge, that after all of the clinical examinations, the treatment modalities, the diagnostic testing, etc., does the doctor have a personal opinion about the individual who is seeking to obtain Federal Disability Retirement benefits?
Obviously, there are multiple questions which I ask as a follow-up; and, indeed, the question as to the status of the client/applicant requests a professional opinion about the patient — but implicit in that question is also a rather personal one. It goes to the heart of who the patient/applicant is, and what the doctor believes about this particular applicant/patient. For, to resolve any doubts about the underlying motive of the patient is not only important to the Administrative Judge in a Federal Disability Retirement application; it is equally important that the doctor is comfortable in his own mind, as to the clear and honest intention of his patient. Conveying that comfort from the voice of the treating doctor to the ears of the deciding Judge, is no small matter.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire