Initial inquiries concerning filing for Federal and Postal disability retirement benefits often ask the following question: Do I have a doctor to whom I can refer the individual? This question often follows upon the unfortunate circumstance that the individual does not have a very supportive doctor, or has been under the “medical care” of an OWCP-referral doctor. The answer is always an unequivocal: No. The reason: The Merit Systems Protection Board is very clear about the issue — that in Federal Disability Retirement cases, a medical report is persuasive when written by a doctor who has a long-standing patient-doctor relationship; has had regular contact with the individual; has had clinical contact over a sufficient period of time, such that the doctor can, within reasonable medical probability, provide a rational basis for stating that the individual is no longer able to perform one or more of the essential elements of his or her job. Thus, even before considering taking a disability retirement, it is important for the individual to make a proper assessment as to whether or not one’s doctor is “supportive”; if not, it may be a good idea to think about switching doctors, and finding one who is supportive.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire