Ophthalmology experts who are eligible for providing Independent Medical Examinations (IME) for California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) must meet certain criteria. These criteria include the following:
- Board certification with the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).
- Have an active ophthalmology practice in the care and treatment of patients.
- Does not have a current practice that consists solely of performing medical/legal evaluations.
- Does not have a current practice that consists solely of evaluating patients for CalPERS.
- Provide timely evaluations of CalPERS ophthalmology patients, usually within three weeks of a CalPERS request.
- Provide timely written ophthalmology reports to CalPers, preferably within fourteen days of examination.
- Provide timely supplemental reports that are needed by CalPERS. Supplemental reports are usually needed within seven days of request unless it is needed on a “rush” basis, in which case it is due within twenty-four hours.
- Provide requests for prior approval for additional time and for testing over $500.00.
- Provide specific standard information as required by CalPERS in addition to a standard written report.
- Adherence to an agreed-upon fee schedule.
- Provide preparation and willingness to appear and testify at administrative hearings.
Ophthalmology experts must be able to testify on a variety of issues. Disability retirement for life or for the duration of a disability is an important topic for ocular expert analysis. Ophthalmology experts need to be familiar with legal tests for determining substantial incapacity. An IME examination is often geared to the specific issue that needs to be addressed. For example, visual impairment that rises to a level that justifies disability is the function of an ocular expert. In the event of a dispute, ophthalmology experts may be needed to testify as to the causation of disability from an industrial accident.
Reports from ophthalmology experts for CalPERS need to document the material reviews and knowledge of the job description. If a member of CalPERS is substantially, incapacitated, the ophthalmology expert needs to indicate specific job duties that the member cannot perform and the reason to support such an assertion. Detailed explanations are also necessary when an ophthalmology expert finds that the member is not substantially incapacitated, notwithstanding the alleged disabling condition.
Ophthalmology experts for CalPERS are limited to provide disability evaluations for CalPERS, and are not authorized to provide any form of treatment, invasive testing, treatment plan, or second opinions. However, ophthalmology experts for CalPERS are a valuable resource that the agency relies on for accurate and fair assessment.