Often, there is a concern about medical conditions which one suffers from, which “predate” employment in the Federal Sector, or with the U.S. Postal Service. Such conditions are often identified as “preexisting medical conditions” — meaning, thereby, that they exist prior to an event.
In the context of OWCP (Federal Worker’s Compensation), under the aegis of the Department of Labor, such an issue normally involves the assertion and allegation (by the Department of Labor, Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs) that a Medical Condition-X already existed prior to Event-Y — the latter normally constituting the “on-the-job” accident or occurrence, or an occupational disease, etc. Because causation — the “what caused the injury” issue — is important in OWCP/DOL cases, the concern of preexisting conditions is normally a point of contention between the Federal worker and the Federal Government/Department of Labor.
However, in OPM Disability Retirement cases, because causation is not an “issue” of concern (the “how” or “where” it happened is not a relevant legal criteria of proof), it rarely becomes a point of conflict between the Office of Personnel Management and the Federal or Postal employee.
It can become of interest, however, for the Office of Personnel Management, in a Federal Disability Retirement application, if a Federal or Postal worker has been hired and working in a particular job, with a specific medical condition for many years, successfully, but then files for Federal Disability Retirement benefits. The reason it may become of some interest, however, is not as to the “causation” issue (of the “how” or “where” it happened), but rather, to the question: Why is it that the Federal or Postal employee who has had a Medical Condition-X all of these years can now claim not to be able to perform Essential Elements Y & Z now?
That is the point where a medical condition existing prior to one’s Federal or Postal employment may be of some interest to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. It is, however, easily addressed; it just needs to be discussed in the right way.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire