FERS Disability Retirement from OPM: Difficult versus Disabled

To the statement, “I am having greater difficulty in performing X, Y and Z” follows with the query: “But are you still able to?”

There is a conceptual distinction to be made between “difficult” as opposed to “disabled”.  Of course, the former may be an indication which may naturally and progressively lead to the latter, and may merely not be there, yet.

The operative word is “may” (a potentiality of disablement), here, as opposed to an established, present reality.  Or, it may be that the person speaking is misusing the language, and is trying to put the best face forward, and should have stated: “I cannot perform X and Y, and am having difficulty in doing Z”.

Human beings have a wide and strange capacity to endure and to cover things up.  Perhaps the person is having difficulty but no one sees it because he or she is simply “pushing through” and hiding the pain and disability quite well.  Or, perhaps the medical condition has approach a critical juncture where the impact of the medical condition is clearly manifesting itself to a point where Federal Disability Retirement needs to be contemplated.

In any event, the first step in making a valid, objective assessment in considering Federal Disability Retirement under FERS for Federal and Postal employees is to distinguish between “difficult” and “disabled” — where the former may not qualify you for FERS Disability Retirement, while the latter surely would.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire