Monthly Archives: June 2012

Denied Federal Disability Retirement Benefits? What next?

When federal employees apply for federal disability retirement, it can often be a long and frustrating process that can take anywhere from six to nine months from start to finish for the claim to be adjudicated. While it is our hope that the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) decision is favorable, not all claims will be approved. However, if your initial decision is a denial, there is an option to enter what is known as the federal disability retirement reconsideration stage.

In the event that one’s federal disability retirement claim is denied, the OPM will send a letter explaining the decision. The final page of the letter will include a request for reconsideration form that allows for the claimant to acknowledge intent for the Office of Personnel Management to revisit their claim. The applicant is given three options with regard to the re-adjudication of their federal disability retirement claim.

The first option designates for the OPM to make a decision based on evidence included along with the request form and documentation already included in the case file. Option two asks for a reconsideration based on the original documentation included with the federal disability retirement application. The last option requests a reconsideration of the initial decision along with a 30 day extension to gather and submit additional evidence.

The request for reconsideration must be received by the OPM no later than 30 calendar days from the date of the initial denial letter. If the option to submit additional evidence at a later time is chosen, it may be wise to schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to begin compiling new documentation in support of your claim.

Harris Federal Law Firm

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Your Physician’s Role in Federal Disability Retirement

When filing for federal disability retirement, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) requires that federal disability retirement applicants meet several criterion in order to qualify for benefits. As medical records play a vital role, it is essential that the applicant’s treating medical providers be as specific as possible.

When working with physicians, it is imperative that they specify how and why the patient cannot perform their job duties as a result of the medical condition, or conditions, the applicant is claiming. If possible, the treating physician should explain, in detail, how the medical conditions create a deficiency in service and/or attendance from the applicant’s current position and that the patient has been formally diagnosed with the specific injury or disease they are claiming. Furthermore, it is necessary for the treating provider to fully describe the attempted therapies and if they are unsuccessful, to document that as well.

Lastly, the treating physician must explain how the patient’s condition will prevent them from working in their current position for at least the next twelve months. Unlike Social Security Disability, one filing for federal disability retirement must prove that they cannot perform the duties required of their current position. Federal disability retirement applicants do not have to prove that they are totally disabled from any gainful employment.

Harris Federal Law Firm

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Success Story: Deportation Assistant in Texas

M.E. was a 53 year old Deportation Assistant for the Department of Homeland Security in Texas. He worked for the Department of Homeland Security for 8 years. He incurred a back injury a year before applying for federal disability retirement. M.E. suffered from chronic back pain ever since the original injury.

He was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, with a moderate diffuse disc bulge with protrusion and annular tear. He fell often because the pain and numbness would spread down his back and into his right leg, causing it to buckle. Because of the considerable amount of pain, M.E. wasn’t able to return to work for even a full day.

His life was completely altered by the injury. The pain prevented him from going out with friends and family and even stopped him from attending his daughter’s high school graduation. With our help, M.E. was approved for FERS disability retirement.

Harris Federal Law Firm

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Federal Disability Retirement and Payments

Do you owe OPM Money? They want to collect!

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) administers many federal programs, including federal disability retirement. Many OPM recipients begin to receive money within a few weeks of being approved for the annuity. Unfortunately, the calculation of the benefit is an unreliable science.

Initially, all annuitants (approved applicants) receive “interim payments”. These payments are not your actual calculation, but rather a “guestimate” of what your payments will be. The purpose of this payment is to provide the retiree with some money as soon as possible.

After additional processing your final payments are calculated. This is where the problem arises. Occasionally, the OPM will find that they have overpaid you during the interim period. This can be due to a miscalculation of service, insurance premiums, or the oversight of an additional benefit like Social Security Disability.

Here is the kicker: The OPM is entitled to recover their overpayments from you, no matter who is at fault!

Even if you did nothing wrong, the OPM can garnish your future payments until the overpayment sum is satisfied. This can put a severe financial strain on the annuitant. There is little to no legal recourse to fight this issue.

Be aware of your interim payments and what the estimate should be. If you feel you are being overpaid, save some of it to avoid the over payment!

Harris Federal Law Firm

Tagged , , , , , , , ,