Without getting into too many comparisons, the laws governing disability retirement benefits are, upon reflection, actually quite reasonable. Think about it this way: yes, it doesn’t pay a great amount, but at the same time, you are encouraged to go out and be productive in some other employment capacity, and are able to make up to 80% of what your former job pays currently.
Unlike the stringent and onerous OWCP/DOL laws, you are not subjected to arbitrary, so-called “independent” medical examinations by doctors who make a substantial portion of their livelihood on rendering such “independent” second, third, and fourth opinions; your application is based upon what your own treating doctor says — not by some doctor who is a specialist in “disability ratings” or “disability determinations”.
This latter criteria is actually for the benefit of the applicant, when you stop and think about it. For, if the law allowed for disability retirement applications to be determined by doctor’s opinions who are “disability specialists”, and not by your own treating doctor, then what would happen is that the entire disability retirement process would become a war between doctors and so-called specialists, overshadowing the one who should count the most — the treating doctor.
Instead, as the reasonableness of the present law stands, the weight of the medical determination is based upon the applicant’s longstanding treating doctor — and that is the way it should be. For it is only a doctor who has enjoyed many years of an intimate doctor-patient relationship who should be granted the special weight and status that is accorded in disability retirement laws: the special status of one who can make a viable, respectable determination of one’s employment capabilities, based upon the medical conditions he or she suffers from. All in all, the disability retirement laws are governed by a criteria of reasonableness.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire