When I look at a potential disability retirement case, I find it helpful to look at the case not only prospectively, but retrospectively. While not a “rule” cast in stone, when the Office of Personnel Management approves a disability retirement case, it will normally attach a page which identifies which disability — normally one, often two, sometimes three — was/were the basis for the approval. Thus, it is important when preparing a disability retirement packet and application, to identify which medical disabilities will be listed and depended upon; and further, once is it approved, it is helpful to look to the future, for there is a random chance that every 2 years or so, you will be selected to answer a Medical Questionnaire to determine if you are still disabled.
Thus, if you list a minor medical condition, and you get approved for that minor medical condition, if you recover from that condition, you can potentially lose your disability retirement benefits in the future. (Note: for those of you who are my clients, please do not worry; no client of mine who has received a Medical Questionnaire has ever lost his/her disability annuity). Thus, it is important to identify those medical conditions which are the “most serious”, and base your medical disability retirement packet upon the most serious, long-term disability first –before listing secondary or additional medical disabilities. This is not to say that you should not list more than one medical disability; indeed, in preparing my packets for my clients, I will often list more than one, but I do it in sequential fashion, and when I put together my legal memorandum in arguing my case on behalf of my client, I constantly refer back to the central medical disability.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire