Preparing and submitting a claim for FERS Disability Retirement (FDR) can be extremely stressful, and most applicants experience at least some level of anxiety during this stage. It is to be expected. What most applicants don’t anticipate, however, is the stress that comes from waiting for OPM to process their disability claim. It can take twelve (12) months or longer for OPM to adjudicate a claim, which gives the applicant plenty of time to worry about the outcome.
So what can you do, if anything, to speed up the processing time of your FDR claim?
For starters, you can contact OPM on a regular basis to check the status of your claim to ensure that your application is moving through the proper channels (click here for contact information and/or sample questions to ask OPM).
Secondly, if you have a life-threatening medical condition and/or you are currently without health insurance, you can request that OPM escalate your claim. Many of my clients with extremely serious medical conditions who have requested escalation have had their FDR claims approved in three (3) months or less.
Finally, you may want to consider asking your local congressional representative(s) for help. Recently, I worked with two applicants who asked their congressional representative to intervene on their behalf, and the results were astounding – both claims were approved in less than three (3) months.
One of these applicants (we’ll call her Mary) had worked as a human resources specialist for the Army, and one of her main functions was to correspond with various congressional offices on a daily basis. With over twenty years’ experience, Mary has perfected the art of congressional correspondence, and she’s been kind enough to share some of her insights and guidelines below.
Contacting Your Congressional Representative
Writing your representative can be very effective if you follow a few simple rules:
- According to Mary, you should open your request for assistance by introducing yourself as a constituent. This establishes a personal connection between you and your representative.
- Next, you should clearly state the assistance you are seeking and why you are seeking help. For example, “I need assistance expediting my FERS Disability Retirement claim, because… I am struggling to pay my utilities… I can’t afford nutritious food for my children… I will soon lose my house and be forced to move out of state…”
- The body of your request should include a summary/chronology of your medical conditions and the reasons that led you to apply for FDR.
- In closing, you should provide a brief, specific summary of what you are asking for and why – and don’t forget to thank your representative in advance for his/her time and resources.
- You should append copies of pertinent medical documentation to your request. In other words, you don’t want to overwhelm your representative by submitting your entire FDR application and/or your entire medical file. For example, a well-written Physician’s Statement (i.e., SF 3112C) should detail the severity and persistence of your medical conditions and should discuss how your symptoms impair your ability to work. This, therefore, would be a great document to append to your request.
Mary strongly advises that the request be clear, concise, and no longer than a single page. This will allow the congressional staffer to quickly determine where the request should be forwarded. She also recommends filing the request online (i.e., most congressional representatives include contact information/forms on their websites), because this will ultimately expedite the process.
Taking the Next Step…
If (1) you’ve been contacting OPM on a regular basis for status updates, (2) you don’t qualify for escalation, and (3) you are experiencing serious financial hardship because you have been waiting so long for OPM to process your FDR claim, you may want to consider contacting your congressional representative for help. Typically, representatives love to hear from their constituents, especially when they have an opportunity to resolve a problem. So don’t be afraid to take that next step 😊.
I hope you find this information helpful. For similar topics, please visit my Blog and FAQ. Should you ever have questions about your eligibility for FERS Disability Retirement, please contact me to schedule your free 30-minute consultation!