One of the parts of the Federal disability retirement package submitted to OPM and your Agency is SF-3112C, called the “Physician’s Statement”. In all actuality, this is a deceptive name to the form, as what you are doing by signing this form in Block 5 is giving full access to your medical records not only to OPM but to your employing agency. We won’t use this form for many reasons, a few of which are listed here.
1. It is not HIPAA compliant. There are criminal and civil penalties for the medical care provider that violates certain protections offered by HIPAA. Considering that this release offers your care provider no protection for releasing your records, it is no wonder that medical doctors don’t want to help federal employees with their applications for federal disability retirement.
2. SF-3112C has no safeguards over who can see your medical information or how it can be used. Notice that the so-called release the federal employee authorizes is to OPM and his employing agency. The employing agency should, by the time you apply for federal disability retirement, have absolutely no need for this information. They would, of course, need select medical records and diagnoses and reports to assess whether you can be accommodated or reassigned, but to be honest, this should have already happened well before the time you are applying for federal disability retirement..
3. It is way overbroad. With the stroke of a pen, you are authorizing your medical care provider to release everything about you, whether truly relevant to your federal disability retirement application or not.
What is the best way to handle this situation, then, as OPM has a right to certain medical information to process your application for federal disability retirement?
1) First, secure all relevant medical records from your care providers yourself. Cull through them and provide those that are truly relevant to the federal disability retirement application to your employing agency and OPM.
2) Second, provide a letter and HIPAA compliant medical authorization in lieu of SF-3112C. Nobody has ever gotten in trouble for not providing a SF-3112C, particularly if they provided medical records and a HIPAA compliant medical records request authorization. The letter you send to OPM should state that in lieu of SF-3112C, you are including a HIPAA complaint medical authorization.
No post on this website is legal advice, is meant to be legal advice, and certainly does not serve as a substitute for legal advice. Information is power, and we are providing this information to give you, the federal employee, with some power. This information is not widely or easily accessible to Federal Employees.
The Law Office of Eric Pines represents Federal employees under FERS or CSRS in their applications for federal disability retirement to OPM. If an application for federal disability retirement is denied, the Firm represents Federal employees under both FERS and CSRS in their MSPB appeals of denials of federal disability retirement applications by OPM.
It is best to consult with a lawyer familiar with Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and disability retirement appeals to discuss the facts and law of your particular case. If you have questions about federal disability retirement under FERS or CSRS, or OPM’s denial of your applications for federal disability retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, contact an MSPB attorney or a Federal Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer at the Law Office of Eric Pines to schedule a telephone consultation.