Many public employees are in a dilemma, with no easy fix, because their treating workers’ compensation doctors will not assist them by completing required disability retirement forms. Retirement systems will not accept or process applications without required doctor forms being completed. The disabled employee is subjected to financial hardship simply because of the treating doctor’s lack of cooperation.
From the date an injured worker is referred for medical treatment, the doctor must determine whether the injured worker is medically unable to perform their usual job duties. In the past, the treating doctor would complete the required forms for applying to get disability retirement. Now, many doctors simply refuse to cooperate.
Public employees be aware, from the onset of your injury, whether you believe that your injury will result in permanent restrictions preventing you from continuing to perform the duties you were last performing on your job. If you suspect that you may be unable to return to those duties, then your treating doctor must be willing to fill out the required disability retirement forms which are outside of the workers’ compensation system. Your employer, and its workers’ compensation carrier, in picking treating doctors has done nothing to insure that their doctors will help you in obtaining disability retirement. Neither will they help you, in most instances, get their doctors cooperation in applying for disability retirement.
Your disability retirement benefit may be the only benefit you will have available to assist you financially for the long term. You should discuss with your treating doctor immediately upon referral, whether s/he and their office staff will help you in the event your injury results in need to seek disability retirement.
It may even be prudent to see what steps you need to take to get a new treating doctor that will take care of your additional and future needs.
Jane Oatman, Esq.
FAUNCE, SINGER & OATMAN
Fighting for the Rights of Disabled Public Employees