CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Diagnosis v. Symptoms

Is an official diagnosis important?  It certainly makes for a “clean” Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS & CSRS, and indeed, sometimes the Office of Personnel Management will question the validity of a Federal Disability Retirement application if a treating doctor equivocates on ascribing a clean, clear-cut diagnosis.

But, as they say in philosophy, and specifically in symbolic logic, while a medical diagnosis may be necessary, it is not sufficient.  That is, while a medical diagnosis is often necessary in order to easily identify the medical condition, it is not sufficient to get a Federal or Postal worker an approved Federal Disability Retirement claim.

This is because, beyond an official diagnosis of a medical condition, it is important to describe the manifestation of symptoms, and how those symptoms impact one’s ability to perform the essential elements of one’s job.  To that extent, it is analogous to the story of a primitive tribesman who feared having his picture taken, because to have one’s image captured was to circumscribe the essence of an individual.

Similarly, while a medical diagnosis identifies the “what” of a condition, it fails to show the endless “hows” of that condition — as in, how does it impact one’s job, one’s personal life, one’s sense of well-being, self-image, etc.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

2 thoughts on “CSRS & FERS Disability Retirement: Diagnosis v. Symptoms

  1. Loretta Cornett-Huff

    On Nov 14 Ias diagnosed with a probable melanoma tumor bhind my left eye. This rare condition was not abele to be treated in Hawaii so arrangements were made with the Wills Eye Institute in Philadelphi.

    The tumor was confirmed as a melanoma and treatment with plaque radiation was accomphlihed during the period 14 – 23 December 2009. I now have some blurring of vision when performing m y regular duties as and Educationy y Services Officer at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. My vision in the left eye is severlly diminished.

    Am I eligible for a disability when I retire? My service computation date is Oct 1 1970. No breaks in service.

  2. Loretta Cornett-Huff

    I was diagnosed with melanoma behind my left eye and treated at the Wills Eye Institute in Philadelphia 13 DEC-14-23 DEC 2009. My eye was saved but the vision in my right eye makes it difficult for me to comprehensively perform my duties as the Education Services Officer at MCB Hawaii. The vision in my left eye is diminished to the point that I cannot read print at this point in time.

    Do I have eligibility for disability when I retire? I will have 40 years of service in October.

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