OPM Disability Retirement: Intersection of the Applicant’s Statement and the Medical Documentation

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS with the Office of Personnel Management, one should not expect to compensate for the lack of medical conclusions in the Applicant’s Statement of Disability (Standard Form 3112A).  

By this is meant the following:  While the Applicant’s Statement of Disability should certainly be an “extension” of the medical documentation submitted, in terms of describing the identified medical conditions, the subjective delineation of pain, symptomatologies experienced, the extent and severity of the subjective experience which only the individual who suffers from the medical condition can properly describe; nevertheless, it should be just that — an extension — and not a means in which to compensate for the obvious (or sometimes not so obvious) lack of findings in the medical reports.

Pain and other subjective experiences are by definition personal to the Federal or Postal employee who “owns” the medical condition, and indeed, the case laws decided by the Merit Systems Protection Board (and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals) clearly declare the relevance and proper weight in considering the subjective statements of the Federal or Postal applicant who is filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits.  

That being said, the medical documentation, including the office/doctor’s notes, etc., along with the medical narrative report which has been submitted as part of the Federal Disability Retirement application, should stand alone with sufficiency and unequivocal confirmation of the medical condition suffered, the symptoms noted, and the nexus created between one’s medical condition and the type of positional duties one is required to perform.  

The Applicant’s Statement, on the other hand, should be an expansion from the point of reference of the medical report, and describe the experiential impact of the medical condition upon one’s job, upon one’s personal life, etc.  Together, they represent two sides of a single coin — but the coin does have two sides, and one side cannot “make up” for any lack revealed on the other side.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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