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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

More Disability Retirement for Bipolar Disorder

I recently wrote about my decision to apply for disability retirement within the Federal Employee Retirement System.  As you can imagine, there are many steps involved in producing the documentation for a disability retirement application.

To begin with, the required documentation is extensive: Application for Immediate RetirementApplicant's Statement of Disability, Supervisor's Statement, Physician's Statement(s), and Agency Certification of Reassignment and Accommodation Efforts.  I am responsible for getting these processed, assembled, and sent off for application review.

In this post I am going to provide a look into a specific, essential element of the disability retirement application process, the Physician's Statement.  This part needs to be carefully prepared for a successful application.

A Physician's Statement is really a request for the treating physician(s) to provide the information necessary to complete "Medical Documentation Requirements".  These requirements direct the physician to provide the following information: (1) a comprehensive history of patient's medical condition(s); (2) copies of tests and examinations; (3) diagnosis of patient's condition; (4) assessment of condition status (static, changing, estimate of recovery or remission); and (5) any restrictions placed on patient activities.

The comprehensive history of patient's medical condition is the most important of the "Medical Documentation Requirements."  Comprehensive history must include detailed information regarding symptoms and history, past and current physical findings, hospitalizations, and results of laboratory studies and therapy of this condition(s).  It should provide a discussion of patient compliance with therapy, response to therapy, and plans for future therapy.

The comprehensive history section also requests documentation showing specific information to show why this patient is not able to perform his or her duties.  This is a key portion since it directly addresses an eligibility requirement, specifically that the applicant is unable to perform useful and efficient service because of disease or injury.  It is absolutely necessary to establish a cause and effect relationship between a bipolar symptom(s) and compromised, adverse performance of a specific job element.

The application examiner wants to see a direct connection between my bipolar symptoms and a compromised work function.  For example, my Physician's Statement explains the poor memory and limited concentration from bipolar depression decreases my ability to read, analyze, and comprehend technical reports (an essential job function).

This example establishes a direct link between my disease-related impairment (cause) and its negative impact on work functioning (effect).

Well, if you are still with me then you can see that the disability retirement process is very involved indeed.  I've only focused on a single item of one area of the application.  It should be evident that a successful application requires careful, purposeful preparation.  This is why some folks hire attorneys specializing in disability retirement cases.

I am trying it alone.  I am doing my own research and preparation.  We'll see what happens!


  1. Hi Jeff,

    I'm about to start my application for federal disability retirement based on ADHD and Bipolar I. I look forward to hearing more about your application, your success in getting folks to complete their various parts, and whether or not it was approved.


    1. Hi AP - I am finalizing my application as I write this. I'm meeting with an attorney for a final review. I hope to post what I have learned through this experience. The toughest for me was getting my medical information and physician's statement. The statement of disability is challenging as well. Email me at if you have any specific questions and perhaps I can help. - Jeff