Your doctor is a critical player in the Federal Disability Retirement process. Supporting medical evidence and doctor statements can make an immense difference when the Office of Personnel Management is reviewing a Federal Disability Retirement application. However, not every doctor is willing to help.
Many doctors are hesitant to get involved in legal matters like a Federal Disability Retirement case. But it’s still important to talk with your medical provider about your decisions for your future.
This article will cover five important questions to ask your doctor if you are thinking of applying for Federal Disability Retirement, like-
1. Can we meet to discuss the possibility of retiring early due to my disability?
You should set up a meeting with your doctor to talk solely about this option for your future. Doctors often confuse Federal Disability Retirement and Social Security Disability, so make sure they understand the difference and how Federal Disability Retirement could benefit you.
You should highlight that Federal Disability Retirement is an occupational disability, not a total disability like Social Security Disability. This is an important distinction they need to make when considering whether to support you in your case.
2. What is your opinion of my ability to work?
First and foremost, your medical provider must see you as unable to continue working in your current position. You must be unable to perform at least one of the essential duties of your federal position in order to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement. To help with this, you should provide your doctor with your job description so they can see what all is required from you at work.
Having clearly stated medical restrictions can aid your case, but they are not required to apply. You should, however, have a service deficiency in performance, attendance, or conduct that is caused by your disabling condition.
3. How long will my condition last?
Your condition must last for at least 12 months for you to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement. If your medical provider does not think your condition is long-term, you will have a hard time receiving this benefit.
Additionally, if your condition is preexisting, you must prove that is has worsened while in your federal position. You can show this with treatment adjustments, an increase in a VA disability rating, and worsening performance.
4. Will I be able to work in a different job?
One major benefit to Federal Disability Retirement is the ability to work in the private sector while receiving your monthly annuity payments.
You should ask your doctor’s opinion on your ability to continue working, and whether you have a total or occupational disability. We see a lot of clients go on to work in the private sector in a job they have always wanted to try but were too afraid to, or never got the chance to pursue as a career. Watch our webinar Working While on Federal Disability Retirement to learn more.
If you have a total disability and are not able to work in the private sector, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which your doctor will have to help with as well. If you are approved for both SSDI and Federal Disability Retirement, there will be an offset between the two benefits.
5. Will you support me throughout this process?
A doctor’s statement is not necessary when applying for Federal Disability Retirement, but it can be the difference between an approval and a denial. The OPM wants definitive evidence that you are unable to continue working in your federal agency, and a medical professional’s statement can help prove that.
Make sure your doctor is aware of how much this could benefit you and how much it would help if they assisted you. You want to be very grateful for their assistance throughout your disability.
If your doctor is not willing to help you through this process, do not be discouraged. You can ask any secondary medical providers that you may have worked with to see if they will support you. If you do not have any doctor support, your medical evidence will have to be able to stand alone in support of your disability retirement.
Asking the right questions can set you up for success in retirement. We have helped over 6,000 clients through this process, and we want to help you receive this life-changing benefit.
Call our office today at 877-226-2723 or schedule a FREE consultation to get started.