Trying it Without an Attorney During the Federal Disability Retirement Process

I get calls all the time by people who tell me that they thought their particular Federal Disability Retirement case was a “slam dunk”; that the medical documentation was there; that everything looked like it should be approved at the first level.  Then, there are people who tell me the same thing after the second, Reconsideration denial — that he or she thought it should definitely pass through.  But law, and especially administrative law before the Office of Personnel Management, has peculiarities beyond a surface, apparent reality.

There is a process and a methodology of obtaining disability retirement. Can a federal retirement attorney guarantee the success of a disability retirement application?  No.  Does an individual applicant have a better chance with the assistance of an attorney who specializes in medical retirement law?  In most cases, yes.  Aren’t there applicants who file for medical retirement, without the assistance of an attorney, who are successful?  Yes.  Should everyone who files for federal retirement hire an attorney?  Not necessarily.

When I speak to a client, I try and place him or her on a spectrum — and on one side of that spectrum is an individual who works at a very physical job, and who has such egregious physical medical disabilities; on the other side of the spectrum is an individual who suffers from Anxiety, who works in a sedentary administrative position (please don’t misunderstand — many people who suffer from anxiety fall into the “serious” side of the spectrum, and I am in no way attempting to minimize the psychiatric disability of Anxiety).

Most people, of course, fall somewhere in the middle.  Yes, I have told many people to go and file his or her disability retirement application without an attorney.  There are those cases which are so egregious, in terms of medical conditions, that I do not believe than an attorney is necessary.  However, such instances are rare.  Thus, to the question, Should everyone who files for Federal retirement under FERS & CSRS hire an attorney?  Not necessarily — but in most cases, yes.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

4 thoughts on “Trying it Without an Attorney During the Federal Disability Retirement Process

  1. Actually I am waiting for OPM Disability Retirement Decesion without an attorney. I applied in August of 2008 , was denied and the letter was never send direct to me , and I found what happens by calling and work it out with the route tracking number of the correspondence. I appealed in December the same month , I am still waiting. I am suffering from a variety of illnesess, for examp, fibromyalgia syndrome, osteoartritis, lumbar degenerative disc disease , lumbar spondylolithesis, and a lot of others ..
    I felt my agency wants me to resign , pushing to much, I am under leave without pay since novemember 2008. My daughter is getting tired of my medical problems and also tire of paying for my rent. Please write me something.

  2. I am a Customs and Border Protection at a very busy southern land border and have been diagnosed with severe atrial fibrillation resulting in a left ventricular ejection function of about 30-40%. I am retired military and have been employed with CBP for about 6 1/2 years. As a law enforcement position, “Full duty” requires an Officer to carry a firearm, qualify in and use restraint techniques, make arrests, work significant overtime in all types of weather, prolonged standing, occasional heavy lifting, etc. The condition has been well documented by my two cardiologists, who have advised me that I cannot perform this type of work any longer. My port management has been good in that they have placed me in a meaningful light duty position, and have talked about the possibility of other employment within the agency. I think I would rather just take a FERS medical annuity payments and avoid the stresses involved in working. I ahve a couple of questions:

    -Does this sound like a case that would have a reasonable chance of being approved? (with proper medical documentation, of course)

    -If the agency offers me employment in a different position, do I have to take it? If not, will it have a negative impact on my case?

    -If I pursue FERS disability retirement, do you feel that an attorney would be necessary? If so, please contact me to discuss the matter. Thank you.

  3. Sorry- I was thinking faster than I was typing. I am employed as a Customs and Border Protection Officer. Thanks again.

  4. Were can I find a lawyer that will take a federal owcp case. I live in Statesboro, Georgia. USDA
    Anyone out here please help. Twelve years of battling on my own last decline for reconsideration. I have tried over the years to obtain a lawyer but they say the same thing I do not do fedreal OWCP cases.

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