In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, there is often the question of whether X should be included, or Y should be left out. Whether certain elements, issues, substantive descriptions, etc., should be included, excluded, extracted or otherwise inserted, largely falls into discretionary decision-making; sometimes, however, personal or professional discretion should not be the guiding criteria; rather, the compelling necessity directed by the legal requirements should dictate the decision itself.
Making such decisions often fall into three basic categories: Substantive; ancillary; an admixture of the first and second. Obviously, “which” medical conditions should be included will normally fall into the substantive category; the “history” of the medical condition, the circumstances under which the medical condition came about, and certain medical conditions which one might suffer from, but which have little or no impact upon one’s ability/inability to perform the essential elements of one’s job, might be considered ancillary; and lastly, the admixture of the two — of agency-induced issues which may have resulted in an EEO action; stress-related conditions from a hostile work environment: these must be considered carefully, and should rarely be included in a Federal Disability Retirement application.
Ultimately, the guiding principle should be: Don’t muddy the waters. But the true guide should always be “the law”, and what purports to uphold that which proves by a preponderance of the evidence a Federal Disability Retirement application.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire