It may seem antithetical to talk about the psychiatric condition of Generalized Anxiety Disorder in filing for Federal Disability Retirements benefits under CSRS or FERS, especially during the Holidays — but, in fact, the analogy with the high stress which many Federal and Postal workers feel because of Christmas, New Years & other holidays is especially relevant.
Let me elaborate. Such a time period as “The Holidays” in fact often brings greater stresses in a person’s life — for it is precisely a time when one is “supposed” to feel joyous, when in fact an individual’s internal, personal turmoil may contradict the outward appearance which one manifests. Such a combination — of the high level of stress one is experiencing, at a particular time (the Holidays), may be considered a “situational” psychiatric condition, because (hopefully) it will subside once the time-period passes.
This is a good way to understand what distinguishes between a “situational disability” (which is disallowed in Federal Disability Retirement applications under either FERS or CSRS) and “non-situational disabilities” (which are viable medical conditions pervading all aspects of one’s life, regardless of time or situation).
The Office of Personnel Management will often attempt to characterize the psychiatric condition of Generalize Anxiety Disorder as one of merely “situational occurrence” — i.e., of being particularized and categorized as occurring only within the confines of a particular department, a particular workplace situation, or a period of time when a specific supervisor or coworker is present (sort of like occurring during the Holidays). But Generalized Anxiety Disorder, properly diagnosed by a treating physician, is rarely, if ever, situational, and in fact is a serious psychiatric condition which qualifies for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.
Do not let the Office of Personnel Management fool you; Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a viable psychiatric medical condition, especially if it pervades all aspects of your life, and it prevents you from performing one or more of the essential elements of your job as a Federal or Postal employee under either CSRS or FERS.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire