Harvey has worked in the field of OPM Disability Retirement Law for 30 years of the more than 50 years he has been a lawyer. He was a pioneer in the field and has won the enormous bulk of his cases on either initial application, reconsideration, or appeal. He has also successfully handled hundreds of federal employment cases such as accommodation, removal, etc.
Nowadays, he spends most of his time working on this blog, providing advice to disabled federal employees, and writing his memoir.
Fill out the contact form on the right - we will get in touch!
Harvey had a long career in civil rights (and lots of other things) before working in Disability Retirement. If you want to hear about Harvey's first disability retirement case, you can listen to the podcast below.
1965-JD University of Miami School of Law
1972-JSD Candidate, Columbia University School of Law
District of Columbia Bar
Attorney, Civil Rights Division, US Office of Economic Opportunity
Attorney, Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Attorney, National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders
Attorney, National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence
Special Counsel, US Senate, Committee on the District of Columbia
Attorney, US Department of Justice
Director, American Bar Association, Special Committee on Crime Prevention and Control
Director, Courts Task Force, National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards
Assistant Professor of Law, (Detroit & Baltimore)
Private Law Practice
1978 to Present, Washington, DC
Harvey Foments Inspector General's Investigation into OPM Injustices
Harvey detailed countless OPM failures, injustices, and unfair practices in a 54 page report to the Inspector General. Harvey's report instigated an investigation by the Inspector General. The IG concluded that many if not all of Harvey's claims were correct. The investigation led to a reform of OPM practices. You can read more about the investigation here.
Private Practice Before Disability Retirement
Moscow Party is a podcast about one of the many security clearance cases Harvey handled. It features KGB Agents, monopoly, lesbian affairs, and much much more! An exciting story completely unrelated to disability retirement, but we hope you enjoy nonetheless. Listen below.
CBS AIDS in the Military Video
Before turning to Disability Retirement Law, Harvey was an attorney for members of the US Military, including some who were diagnosed with AIDS and then faced a legal battle with the US Government. In 1982, Dan Rather's CBS Nightly News reported on a number of cases Harvey won for service members with AIDS.
Harvey briefly discusses the issue at the end of the clip.
Jeremy is the webmaster. He runs the blog, keeps track of who is contacting us, and helps Harvey write his memoir. If you are interested in his work, check out his website at www.jmneff.com.
And here is a little interview that I, Harvey, did with Jeremy back in his school days when he first came to work for me.
If you are considering disability retirement for Fibromyalgia, you should get to know what you might be up against.
My client had fibromyalgia. She couldn’t do her secretarial duties. She couldn’t make it out of bed most mornings given he…
ANSWER: Get yourself a lawyer with solid experience in disability retirement cases. If you lost the first round going it alone, you are even more likely to lose this second and final round. It is inherently more difficult to win a legal matter on appeal (reconsideration is an appeal) than it is to win it the first time around. Asking OPM for reconsideration is the same as accusing it of having made a serious mistake and asking it to correct that mistake. I don't know too many people who take kindly to such requests, let alone people insulated by a huge bureaucracy.
Winning on reconsideration requires first that someone really considers your argument and second that your argument meets that person's standards. You will not meet OPM's standards if you merely point out all of the errors they made. Instead, you will have to demonstrate how those errors prejudiced OPM's decision against you, since errors per se are not grounds for reversal. That's tough to do, especially when OPM bureaucrats often see their mission as trying to find reasons to deny disability retirement rather than to grant it. You need a good deal of experience to be successful against this mind-set.
What are the specific questions that OPM will ask me?
ANSWER: OPM requires that you fill out an "Applicant's Statement." A cursory review of the questions asked demonstrates OPM's interest in deficiencies in performance, attendance, and conduct. To the extent possible, your responses should be directed to those issues. The following is a composite of the four most critical questions asked of both FERS and CSRS employees:
Describe how you are deficient in your job in respect to performance, attendance, or conduct.
Describe your medical condition(s) (i.e., disease or injury) and how it interferes with performance of your duties, attendance, or conduct.
Describe any other restrictions on your activities imposed by your medical condition(s) (i.e., disease or injury) which you believe should be considered in determining your ability to perform your job in your agency and in other positions in your agency for which you may otherwise be qualified.
What efforts have been made by your agency to change your work area or your job to make it possible for you to perform useful and efficient service in your position or another position?
The Applicant's Statement is the only government form that provides you with an opportunity to express the severity of your disabling symptoms. As you can see from the few questions on the form, it fails to elicit the information that OPM really needs in order to assess your case. In my practice, I have developed a far more detailed questionnaire that allows my clients to provide OPM with the information that it really needs to make a decision. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that they will read it. But there is no guarantee that they will read their own form either.
Remember that your responses on the Applicant's Statement may be useful not only to OPM, but also to your physician who will draft the Physician's Statement (Form SF 3112). Your doctor may have heard your complaints over and over again, but nothing is more effective than having them detailed in writing while your doctor is drafting the Physician's Statement.
Here's an example of the importance of detailing your symptoms to both OPM and your physician. Tests may demonstrate that you have a medical condition known to cause fatigue. However, the fact that you suffer from this particular medical condition means nothing to OPM, and may not in itself remind your doctor of your particular disabling symptoms. Through your answers to these questions, you can make the point that in your particular case, your medical condition causes fatigue, and that your fatigue is so bad that it precludes you from getting anything accomplished at work, because (you might explain further) after being at the office for two hours you can no longer stay awake, and when you are awake, you can't remember from one moment to the next what you just read on the computer screen. This tells everyone much more than just stating that you suffer from fatigue.
I have represented Federal government employees and Postal workers seeking OPM Disability Retirement for a long time. I also represent them in agency leave problems such as AWOL, FMLA, LWOP, etc. Leave problems often come along with being sick and disabled. I have stuck to this area of the law for more than 30 years of the 50 years I have been a lawyer.