Featuring Harvey Friedman, Produced by Jeremy Neff.
Harvey Friedman gives you the inside scoop on what disability retirement is all about. It is based on his over 30 years of experience representing federal employees seeking disability retirement from OPM. The Do's, The Don'ts, The Why's, Wherefore's, the What Not To's and the How To's.
Podcast #3: A Good Doctor is the REAL Key To Winning: What makes someone eligible for Disability Retirement, and how do they prove it? Find out why getting a supportive doctor is the most important step in pursuing Disability Retirement. Transcript.
Podcast #2: Don't Worry So Much About The Fee - You're Gonna Make Out Like A Bandit: Hear how to find a good lawyer - other than Harvey (he's retired!). Harvey covers how you can make out like a bandit with disability retirement and whether a lawyer's fee is worth it. Transcript.
Podcast #1: Harvey's First Disability Retirement Client (1985!): Our first attempt at a podcast. It is about Harvey's first client in the Disability Retirement field, who taught him what Disability Retirement even was! And it is a strange story indeed. Hope you enjoy.
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…
Transcript edited for clarity:
How come you retired?
I’m old! I’m 77! When I turned 75, I said, “OK, that’s enough, time to play!”
Then how come you are still doing this blog?
Because I can’t retire. I unplugged…
Do I have a right to keep the nature of my medical condition confidential from my agency? From OPM?
ANSWER: Yes and no. You have a right to the strictest confidentiality regarding your medical condition at your agency but not at OPM. Despite that right, in some instances it takes a special effort to keep the matter confidential. Since OPM, rather than your agency, determines your case, the agency only needs to know the nature of your disabling symptoms and how they prevent you from performing. Except in unusual circumstances, the agency should not need to know the diagnosis or cause of those symptoms. In the event that it demands such information, you have a right to provide it through the agency physician, who must treat it as privileged information and maintain your confidentiality.
How sick or injured do I have to be in order to collect disability retirement?
ANSWER: You do NOT have to be totally disabled to collect disability retirement. You are considered disabled if you are unable to render "useful and efficient service." If you are unable to perform satisfactorily a single (just one and any one will do) "critical element" of your current government job on account of an illness or injury, then you cannot render "useful and efficient service" and are eligible for disability retirement. It does not matter that you may be able to perform all of the other elements of that job. If you can't perform that single "critical element," then you are by definition disabled.
To some this sounds too good to be true; particularly to some physicians who are accustomed to thinking of disability in terms of wheelchairs, oxygen tents, and life support machines. They often fail to grasp the fundamental point that Congress has chosen to define disability for government employees in far more liberal terms than disability is defined in other areas of the law. As a consequence of their misunderstanding, many doctors are reluctant to go all out for their patients who do not meet the more traditional definition of disability. One result is that their patients end up being denied a benefit to which they have a legal right. One of my major tasks in representing government employees seeking disability retirement is to educate physicians and others on this critical point so that they can, in turn, really go to bat for their patients.
Example: Andy suffers from the chronic pain of a slipped disc whenever he is required to sit for even short intervals. Andy's desk job requires long stretches of sitting. Andy has no trouble playing golf or dancing till dawn, but he cannot sit without pain. Because Andy can not render "useful and efficient service," he is disabled from his government job even though he can play golf and dance. If he meets the other requirements, he is entitled to disability retirement.
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.