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.
We have a real problem with Physician’s Statements from doctors who are too busy to spend time writing them and unwilling to go out on a limb to say it like it really is. So you have to work around this.
When it comes to doctors, you have to…
Following up on my earlier post about getting fired for misconduct:
If you are fired for misconduct, that does not mean your agency can wash its hands of you and not cooperate with your claim for Disability Retirement. Your agency is still required…
Can I work in another job after I retire from my government job on disability?
ANSWER: Yes. Although you may be unable to render "useful and efficient service" in your government job and are therefore disabled from it, you may be able to perform in a non-government job, and if you can, you are perfectly free to do so.
Example: Fern, an accountant, suffers from continuing bouts of clinical depression in part as a result of government job duties and long hours. Her symptoms include early morning crying spells, which often make her late for the daily staff meetings which are an integral part of one of the critical elements of her job. After she is awarded disability retirement, Fern finds a new job as an accountant in private business with duties and hours that she can handle. Fern is disabled from her government employment, and if she meets the other requirements, the fact that she can perform the private sector job does not prevent her from receiving disability retirement.
What is disability retirement?
ANSWER: Disability retirement is a right. Any employee who belongs to either the Civil Service Retirement system (CSRS) or the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), after meeting certain threshold requirements, can collect a portion of his or her salary if a medical condition prevents him or her from continuing work in a government job. It is not a favor, a handout, or a gift, but a right for which you have already paid through contributions to your retirement fund. Whereas regular retirement gives you the right to stop working and begin collecting if you reach a certain age, disability retirement gives you this right if you develop a disability, even if you haven't yet reached retirement age. Just as the premium payment on your fire insurance policy protects you against the loss of your house due to fire, your monthly paycheck retirement deduction protects you against loss of income due to disease or injury.
Can I be denied disability retirement if I refuse evaluation or treatment which might reasonably ameliorate the medical condition causing the disability?
ANSWER: That depends on the nature of the medical evaluation or treatment you refuse. You cannot be denied disability retirement for refusing to undergo diagnostic procedures or treatment strategies that are relatively invasive, relatively painful, or may result in further illness. However, in one case an employee's chronic back pain was exacerbated by being overweight. She was denied disability retirement when she refused to accept medical advice to exercise and lose weight.
Is it true that legally I may be able to earn more while on disability retirement than I did while working in my old government job?
ANSWER: Yes. By keeping your earnings in your new job just below the 80% ceiling and combining these earnings with your disability annuity, you can, without any penalty, earn more than you formerly did when you were healthy and employed by the government. Nor is there anything illegal or unethical about purposely keeping your earnings below the 80% ceiling and as a consequence, earning more on disability than you earned previously.
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.