As I often tell my clients in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application: The “lynchpin of the application is the medical report”. Thus, it is important to speak to the doctor about the legal requirements of a medical narrative report. Doctors, by their very nature, hate to write reports; they are doctors, and doctors perform medical duties; writing a report is an “administrative” duty, and further, writing a medical report for a disability retirement application is a “legal administrative” duty — the farthest thing from what a doctor would like to do.
Additionally, many potential applicants don’t understand that for certain medical conditions — Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Multiple Chemical/Environmental Sensitivity cases, and “contact Dermatitis” cases, as well as other related conditions — there are many “do’s and don’t’s” with respect to the substance and content of the medical reports.
The Office of Personnel Management looks for certain key phrases which doctors will often write about in describing certain medical conditions, and it is important to caution the doctors about certain key elements. It is not that the doctors should not describe the symptoms in a certain manner; rather, once the doctor understands what the legal requirements are, a treating doctor will more fully understand what needs to be said in order to meet that legal requirement.
In other words, doctors will often use “standard medical-ese” in describing symptoms; a fuller explanation is more often needed in order to meet the legal requirements of being eligible for disability retirement. That is where an attorney’s assistance is often crucial.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire