Will OPM Approve My Disability Claim Without a Physician’s Statement?

December 8, 2020 11:01 AM
View this article online at https://www.fedsmith.com/2020/12/08/will-opm-approve-my-disability-claim-without-physicians-statement/ and visit FedSmith.com to sign up for free news updates
Close up of a doctor's hands filling out paperwork while sitting at a desk; a stethoscope is seen lying in the foreground

iStock.com

Can a missing physician’s statement sabotage your application for FERS Disability Retirement (FDR)?

As I’ve mentioned previously, SF 3112C: Physician’s Statement is the most important part of your FDR application. There’s no question that a well-written, detailed testimonial from your doctor is crucial for your success.

That being said, you may find yourself in a situation where your doctor declines to provide a statement. That’s exactly what happened to one of my recent clients, and this is how we overcame this obstacle.

Case Study

For many years, Bob (not his real name) had been suffering from several serious medical conditions, including the following:

  • Lumbar Disc Degeneration
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Supraspinatus Tendonitis
  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder

As his physical conditions worsened, he struggled to complete his assignments, which were mostly physical (i.e., tasks involving repetitive squatting, lifting, carrying, reaching, twisting, bending, typing, etc.). Furthermore, his declining performance exacerbated his existing anxiety and depression.

Despite having what seemed to be a very strong FDR claim, none of his doctors were willing to draft a statement in support of his application. And without a strong, detailed account from at least one of his doctors, we knew that there was a high likelihood that his disability claim would be denied by OPM.

Fortunately, Bob had an abundance of medical documentation to support his claim, including detailed OWCP records. In addition, he had been separated from his position for “medical inability to perform,” which entitled him to the Bruner Presumption of Disability.

Together, we drafted an affidavit in which we addressed each of the eligibility requirements for FDR. Specifically, we (1) explained how and why Bob met each requirement and (2) supported our arguments with the appropriate agency and medical documents. We also included a discussion about Bob’s eligibility for the Bruner Presumption so that this important aspect would not be overlooked by a busy reviewer.

I’m happy to report that Bob was approved for FDR in less than six months (i.e., without the need for a Reconsideration Appeal).

So, although I certainly don’t recommend submitting an FDR application without a physician’s statement, it’s clearly possible to obtain approval without one. If you find yourself in a similar situation, you may want to consider working with a professional to help you formulate a plan for success.

© 2021 Scott Santarelli. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Scott Santarelli.

Tags:

About the Author

Since 2012, Scott Santarelli has been helping disabled federal and postal workers obtain FERS disability benefits. His highly-effective approach has been adopted by several disability attorneys. He enjoys writing articles that provide valuable information about the OPM claims process.

Top