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Disability Retirement


The federal government allows employees who are unable to work to retire under a disability retirement. It is in the best interest of both employees and the federal government for employees to remain gainfully employed in their current grade or pay level, as long as they can provide useful and efficient service without endangering themselves, others or government property.
Disability retirement should be the very last option and should be used only when attempts have been made to preserve an individual's employment, and those attempts have failed.

Order our Disability Retirement guide to educate yourself on the rules and regulations concerning disability retirement for federal employees.

To read today's top news stories on federal employee pay, benefits, retirement, job rights and other workplace issues visit FederalDaily.com.
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GSBS  
#1 Posted : Thursday, July 22, 2021 5:57:16 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: mkloungw Go to Quoted Post
I'm a Disability Accommodation Specialist for a Federal agency. As part of my duties, I complete Part D of the SF3112 for the cases I've worked in which reasonable accommodation was not possible or warranted. I have been handling both disability accommodation and disability retirement matters for going on 8 years now. It wasn't until a year ago that I saw an employee apply for disability retirement with this Harris Federal Law firm representing them. Now, it seems like it's every other one if not more. Also, disability retirement applications have tripled in just the few months that we started seeing this firm attached to these applications. The one thing in common that I have seen is that these "Federal Disability Case Managers" either don't know what they are doing or are intentionally trying to torpedo their client's application. Each time, I have needed to reach out to the employee and assist them in providing documentation that is required. The reps will regularly push me to complete my section (which is supposed to be the last word) before the employee has even made a statement! They contact the employee's supervisor and do the same thing. They will turn in outdated (often scribbled) medical documentation instead of a Physician's Statement and then argue that should be sufficient. They regularly send documents containing full names and associated full Social Security numbers via unencrypted email. If I hadn't stepped in on some of these cases, the application would have likely failed as I will not certify that disability retirement is supported for someone who turns over medical in which the doctor writes that the diagnosis is "possible malingering" or when the provider indicates that the disability would altogether go away if the person was treated more nicely. Harris reps just say to go ahead and state my findings and that if more info is needed on appeal, then so be it.

These things raise some serious red flags to me, so I am wondering if any of you have recent experience with them and can tell me whether or not they charge extra fees if an application fails and needs to be appealed? If that's the case, it seems they are doing what they can to intentionally tank the cases on the first attempt, so they can then switch over to an hourly rate and/or charge more.


I've read your thread a few times now, and I just don't know why you would waste your time and valuable Internet space posting this. YOU are not the "last word" of anything when it comes to filing the application for Disability Retirement? You don't "Step In"? What paperwork do you supply aside from possibly contributing on part D the application? You seem to know very little how legal representation for OPM D.R would work, and appear to have something against Harris Federal, a firm that has been around for years & offers 100% Money back if you don't win. My Attorney didn't offer that, and his service was worth ten times the cost. A Reasonable Accommodation if available is just one small part of the whole picture. My agency didn't have a "Disability Accommodation Specialist", they even tried to tell me we didn't belong to the OPM. Leave Harris alone, Malcom, they could sue you?

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Guts on 8/11/2021(UTC)
frankgonzalez  
#2 Posted : Friday, July 23, 2021 5:23:05 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: mkloungw Go to Quoted Post
I'm a Disability Accommodation Specialist for a Federal agency. As part of my duties, I complete Part D of the SF3112 for the cases I've worked in which reasonable accommodation was not possible or warranted. I have been handling both disability accommodation and disability retirement matters for going on 8 years now. It wasn't until a year ago that I saw an employee apply for disability retirement with this Harris Federal Law firm representing them. Now, it seems like it's every other one if not more. Also, disability retirement applications have tripled in just the few months that we started seeing this firm attached to these applications. The one thing in common that I have seen is that these "Federal Disability Case Managers" either don't know what they are doing or are intentionally trying to torpedo their client's application. Each time, I have needed to reach out to the employee and assist them in providing documentation that is required. The reps will regularly push me to complete my section (which is supposed to be the last word) before the employee has even made a statement! They contact the employee's supervisor and do the same thing. They will turn in outdated (often scribbled) medical documentation instead of a Physician's Statement and then argue that should be sufficient. They regularly send documents containing full names and associated full Social Security numbers via unencrypted email. If I hadn't stepped in on some of these cases, the application would have likely failed as I will not certify that disability retirement is supported for someone who turns over medical in which the doctor writes that the diagnosis is "possible malingering" or when the provider indicates that the disability would altogether go away if the person was treated more nicely. Harris reps just say to go ahead and state my findings and that if more info is needed on appeal, then so be it.

These things raise some serious red flags to me, so I am wondering if any of you have recent experience with them and can tell me whether or not they charge extra fees if an application fails and needs to be appealed? If that's the case, it seems they are doing what they can to intentionally tank the cases on the first attempt, so they can then switch over to an hourly rate and/or charge more.
While I don't plan on being as harsh as GSBS, I apologize in advance if I do.

I presume you are in HR, and not an EEO/Civil Rights office. Your actions could spark an EEO complaint naming you as the responsible management official for the discrimination. I've been a People with Disabilities Program Manager, as well as EEO Specialist and Manager for over 25 years. RAs are simple...is there something that will work or not. If there is not RA possible, then you look at reassignment (has to be an open position they qualify for). Simple.

Once a lawyer is involved, they are de facto the person, and so all communication goes through them unless the lawyer says to talk to their client. It is NOT your job to interfere in a person's choice of representation. If their documentation is inadequate for a supervisor to determine if an accommodation is possible, then you simply let the employee know via their attorney.

If there are questions on the medical documentation, you should have a medical officer review it to provide input.

YOUR job is not to decide if they qualify for DR. Your job is to see if there is an accommodation that would enable the employee to continue to work. If there isn't, then to say so.

As for the increase in DR applications...as agencies start returning to the office, some employees (especially if they have some comorbidity that makes COVID a greater risk, or if they are immunocompromised and cannot get vaccinated) are concerned about returning to crowded offices and cubicles...and that there are some of their coworkers who refuse to get vaccinated or wear masks...so would rather try for DR than return and risk their lives. And their concerns may also include family members who may have medical conditions as well. DR allows them to have some income, keep their insurance, and even to work to an extent. Hence the uptick. Without knowing your agency...if it is towards the bottom of the "best places to work in the federal government" ratings, then that could also add to the uptick in applications.



You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
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GSBS on 7/23/2021(UTC), Guts on 8/11/2021(UTC)
raspec  
#3 Posted : Friday, July 23, 2021 9:10:50 AM(UTC)
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I've deleted my question, but you both don't know what you're talking about. Read the actual OPM Handbook and learn something.
raspec  
#4 Posted : Friday, July 23, 2021 9:29:49 AM(UTC)
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Per 60A2.1-5D.of the OPM Handbook -

3. If, despite the agency's decision that it has successfully accommodated
Identifies Vacant the employee's disability, the employee insists that the application be
Position (Cont.) sent to OPM for a determination, the agency should submit the
application and all supporting documents to OPM, together with ITS OPPOSITION TO THE APPLICATION stating the accommodation efforts
provided, or the reasons the agency believes that no accommodation or
reassignment efforts are needed.

Note the capitalized section. You are attacking me for trying to help people rather than write something opposing their efforts. That is messed up.
frankgonzalez  
#5 Posted : Friday, July 23, 2021 12:30:29 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: mkloungw Go to Quoted Post
Per 60A2.1-5D.of the OPM Handbook -

3. If, despite the agency's decision that it has successfully accommodated
Identifies Vacant the employee's disability, the employee insists that the application be
Position (Cont.) sent to OPM for a determination, the agency should submit the
application and all supporting documents to OPM, together with ITS OPPOSITION TO THE APPLICATION stating the accommodation efforts
provided, or the reasons the agency believes that no accommodation or
reassignment efforts are needed.

Note the capitalized section. You are attacking me for trying to help people rather than write something opposing their efforts. That is messed up.
Originally Posted by: mkloungw Go to Quoted Post
I've deleted my question, but you both don't know what you're talking about. Read the actual OPM Handbook and learn something.
Well..except for doing the job as a People with Disabilities Program Manager on and off for over a couple of decades...but sure, I know nothing about the process whatsoever.

And..one of the reasons I like to quote the person I reply to is to capture the original post verbatim, so if they edit or delete it, readers can see what I was responding to. So...delete away.

And please tell me specifically where I was incorrect in my response to you. If you decline, I will presume you are simply angry you were called out for your errors after you publicly exposed them by posting here.

As someone who was concerned about your grade (GS11 vs 12) and how your agency handled the transfer, etc and had to reach out to here to get some answers, I'm surprised you are attacking those who literally told you that what you expressed wasn't your job to do. And additionally, you posted something that concurs with what I said. You address the accommodation issues, and complete the paperwork per OPM's requirements.

The employee has hired an attorney...when that happens, you follow the book to the letter. Do not deviate, do not step out of your lane. Doing so can put your agency in the crosshairs of a finding. You are part of the agency...NOT the employee's representative. Do your job, not the job of the hired gun (aka the employee's attorney).

You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
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Guts on 8/11/2021(UTC)
raspec  
#6 Posted : Friday, July 23, 2021 12:36:20 PM(UTC)
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The employees are the ones reaching out to me because they are not getting assistance. This is not just a problem with me; it is a concern being discussed by the HR folks as well as my EEO group. Maybe I wasn't clear enough in my initial post how problematic this is. Also, these are not attorneys. These are so called "case managers" with no law degree. If the employee calls or emails me to ask for assistance, why should I refuse to provide it and just tell them to talk to their case manager that isn't helping them?

I've decided to go the route of bringing these concerns directly to the director of that program in the law firm. I am only trying to help these employees while staying by the book. I have done what you said (just filling out the paperwork with what I have) in the past and twice faced an EEO complaint and an OSI complaint for allegedly "torpedoing" the employee's application because I didn't "do enough" to get additional information that would support their application.
frankgonzalez  
#7 Posted : Sunday, July 25, 2021 9:12:04 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: mkloungw Go to Quoted Post
The employees are the ones reaching out to me because they are not getting assistance. This is not just a problem with me; it is a concern being discussed by the HR folks as well as my EEO group. Maybe I wasn't clear enough in my initial post how problematic this is. Also, these are not attorneys. These are so called "case managers" with no law degree. If the employee calls or emails me to ask for assistance, why should I refuse to provide it and just tell them to talk to their case manager that isn't helping them?

I've decided to go the route of bringing these concerns directly to the director of that program in the law firm. I am only trying to help these employees while staying by the book. I have done what you said (just filling out the paperwork with what I have) in the past and twice faced an EEO complaint and an OSI complaint for allegedly "torpedoing" the employee's application because I didn't "do enough" to get additional information that would support their application.
Let's see where you are screwing up in your analysis. They "case managers' work for a Law Firm, and all their work falls under at least 1 attorney. Therefore, the law firm is de facto a legal representative of the employee, not the case manager. The case manager is simply the interface for the lawyer to the client. So why should you "just refuse to provide it and just tell them to talk to their case manager?" Easy answer...because legally you have to! Same reason I can't just walk into a store and take what I want without paying, or lie when providing a statement under oath, etc.

If the employee has engaged this law firm, you kindly point out that as they have engaged a representative, they need to return to their legal representative for those answers.

I have the same issue within EEO...and I cannot legally tell them their lawyer is not helping them, even if I know the lawyer is screwing up and has demonstrated a lack of knowledge of Federal EEO laws as applied to the federal workforce. That is the employee's decision to hire them, not yours.

YOU should not go directly to the director of the law firm...you will risk your job. That is WAY above your paygrade. Hell, it would be above my paygrade and I'm a GS14! And so what if they file complaints with EEO or OSI if you are doing exactly what your job entails? If you deviate from that, you risk being found to have done something wrong (perhaps even illegal) and then would have a finding against you. You do your job...nothing more, nothing less. Not enough info provided to say no RA is available? Send it back to the law firm (with a copy to the employee) laying out exactly what you need. They fail to respond by the deadline (a reasonable one) you provide...you document that lack of response and it goes in the record.

But you do you...raise a fuss with the Law Firm's director and watch them file complaints with the local bar (you acting like a lawyer while not one), and with your agency for interfering with their lawyer/client relationship, etc. See how that works out for you.

You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
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GSBS on 8/9/2021(UTC)
Guts  
#8 Posted : Wednesday, August 11, 2021 7:59:08 PM(UTC)

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Hey GSBS, how are you doing bud? I hope you are doing well!
Grammar: the difference between knowing your **** and knowing you're ****
GSBS  
#9 Posted : Thursday, August 12, 2021 1:30:09 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Guts Go to Quoted Post
Hey GSBS, how are you doing bud? I hope you are doing well!
Thank you my friend, good to see you! I took real exception to this thread, and frankly enjoyed Frank's thoughtful comments, the other guy was a moron~

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