Anxiety is a special form of a psychiatric disability — one which must be approached with thoughtful care in preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS. While often accompanied by Major Depression, and sometimes panic attacks, Generalized Anxiety Disorder will often have corollary discussions in medical treatment and office notes of references to employment issues involving workplace harassment, discrimination, hostile work environments, etc. Such references to workplace issues can lead to the Office of Personnel Management denying a Federal Disability Retirement application based upon “Situational Disability” — a medical disability which is self-contained within a particular workplace situation, but which may not necessarily extend to a different office environment with the same job requirements.
To make moot a claim of situational disability, one would have to show that the medical condition — Anxiety — pervades all aspects of one’s life, and is not just circumscribed by the particular harassing environment of a specific workplace, or a Supervisor, or a hostile workplace, etc. The more one focuses upon the workplace as the instigating causal force behind one’s anxiety, the more it will compound the problem of being deemed a “situational disability” in a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS. Ultimately, it is irrelevant what “causes” the anxiety; the important thing is that a person suffers from a medical disability, and the primary focus should be upon treatment of that condition.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire