The Office of Personnel Management has every right to establish a consistency of medical treatment and opinions rendered on the part of the doctor, the specialist, the medical facility, etc. One of the reasons why Federal Disability Retirement benefits are (in great part) determined by the opinion of the “treating doctor”, as opposed to a determination made by a medical doctor who makes such disability determinations but is not the applicant’s “treating doctor”, is that such a determination (in the eyes of Federal Disability Retirement laws, statutes, MSPB case laws, etc.) can best be rendered by a medical specialist who has a long-standing relationship with the patient/applicant, over a long period of time, to determine the extent, severity, chronicity, etc., of the medical condition claimed.
With this in mind, there often arises a conflict of sorts: On the one hand, most people who are attending to their medical needs, are not thinking in terms of “getting Federal Disability Retirement benefits” during the time of treatment. The critical point of when the line becomes drawn, where treatment & chronicity begin to conflict; or where, despite every attempt by the doctor to prescribe treatment modalities, there appears to be a medical condition which is “intractable”, is often a difficult one to determine. In most cases, the office/treatment notes will reveal the line, which may come about gradually. At other times, one may have a doctor who thinks that he or she can successfully treat any and all conditions, and reflects such a “positive” outlook in every office notation. This is often not helpful, when it comes time to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS. To counter this, a frank discussion with the doctor at some point may become necessary.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire