OPM Accepted Medical Conditions

The problem with “lists” is that, the moment one realizes that one is not on the list, the tendency is to simply give up and go home.  But lists are rarely exhaustive; rather, most are merely to provide a “paradigm” or “type”, as opposed to exclusionary intent by failing to specify or name.

PTSD

Federal Civilian employees with PTSD may qualify for OPM Disability Retirement depending upon the circumstances.  There is no need to prove that this condition is pre-existing or job-related

Thus, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering preparing, formulating and filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the critical issue to recognize is threefold:  First, becoming qualified for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM is not dependent upon having an officially identifiable diagnosis which matches a “list” compiled at OPM; Second, in some ways, the symptoms manifested are just as important as the underlying diagnosis, precisely because what the Federal or Postal employee “suffers from” is what impacts the capacity and ability of the Federal or Postal employee in performing the essential elements of one’s positional duties; and Third, because Federal Disability Retirement is based upon the nexus between one’s medical condition and the positional duties required in one’s job, there is a requirement of showing the “connection” between the Federal or Postal job and the manifestation of the diagnosed medical condition(s).

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or Apnoea) may also qualify for OPM Disability Retirement if this condition causes fatigue and sleepiness in such a way that it interferes with work productivity

Thus, while a 1-to-1 ratio between a medical condition and an “essential element” of one’s positional duties is not required (the recent Henderson case reiterated that issue), a showing of incompatibility between the medical condition and the positional requirements is enough to establish eligibility for OPM Disability Retirement Benefits.  In the end, providing a “list” is somewhat more of a disservice than not, because no list would ever be complete, and an incomplete list has a tendency to dishearten and dissuade.

Sciatica and Low-back pain

Sciatica is a type of pain affecting the sciatic nerve, often as a result of repetitive strain injury.  U.S. Postal employees are especially vulnerable to low back pain and repetitive strain injuries when pulling “cages” (Mail Handlers); standing, twisting, turning, and bending when working with Flat Sorting Machines (Distribution Clerks); standing for long hours (Windows Clerks); and when sitting in mail trucks and carrying heavy mailbags on their shoulders for several hours (Letter Carriers)

That being said, there are overarching “types” of medical conditions in either categories:  of Psychiatric (Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal ideations, Paranoia, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis, ADD, ADHD, OCD), but which also fall under the general aegis of “cognitive dysfunctions” as well; and of Physical (Chronic Pain, Degenerative Disc Disease, Cervical degeneration; disc bulges and herniations; disc impingements; RSD; chemical-sensitivity issues; Asthma; pulmonary issues; anatomically-targeted issues involving hands, wrists, knees, feet, etc.; as well as GERD, Sleep Apnea, Profound Fatigue; IBS; residual effects from treatment regimens; symptoms which impact, directly or indirectly, the ability and capacity to perform the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties); and many, many more.

Doctors' OPM narrative

Doctors are usually familiarized with SSDI rules, not with OPM Disability law; so, even if they are willing to help, they will be typically unable to do so

There:  the disservice has been accomplished; like being back in elementary school where the “list” for the most popular, the coolest and the best dressed did not recognize your name, for Federal and Postal employees, the focus needs to always be upon that “secondary” issue of the 2-part nexus: Whatever the “it” is, is it impacting your ability or capacity to perform one or more of the essential elements of your job?

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

 

OPM Disability Retirement Attorney: Stress in the Federal Workplace

Stress is a natural and inherent part of everyday and ordinary life.

For the Federal and Postal employee who is considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS or CSRS, one needs to always consider its form, content, extent and significance of inclusion in a Federal Disability Retirement application.

As a primary diagnosis, such an inclusion can be considered as merely “situational“, precisely because stress is a factor seen in workplace contexts across the board. As a secondary manifestation of another primary diagnoses, the danger of having the condition relegated to being a situational condition immediately disappears.

Whether the conceptual construct is used as a noun or as a working verb may appear to be merely a linguistically elastic play — a Wittgensteinian language game of sorts — but it is precisely what must be engaged in for a successful preparation and formulation of a Federal Disability Retirement application.

For, in the end, a Federal Disability Retirement application is a paper presentation to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, encompassing a wide spectrum of descriptions, arguments and factual/legal analysis; and such is the nature of a language game, where the conversion of nouns into working verbs may be the difference between success or failure in a Federal OPM Disability Retirement claim.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Writing an Effective Federal Disability Retirement Application

According to Ludwig Wittgenstein, the identification of context-appropriate language games is instructive in this linguistic-focused society.  With the explosion of information through the internet, via twitter, Facebook, texting and email, the changing and malleable nature of language is quickly evolving into a populace of blurred lines, where the virtual world and the substantive, Aristotelian world no longer possess clear bifurcations.  However language changes; whatever the form of communication; the need to convey clarity of thought will still and always exist.

It is one thing to experience life; it is another to tell about it.  In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, it is important to be able to “tell about it”.

Yes, the primary satisfaction of the legal criteria necessarily requires the substantive experience of the medical condition; but there is a conceptual distinction to be made between “living it”, “telling it”, and “proving it.”  It is presumed that the Federal or Postal employee who is preparing to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits already satisfies the first of the three; it is the second, and especially the third, which presents a problem.

Don’t think that just because you “should qualify” because of the nature, extent and severity of one’s medical condition, that such experiential phenomena justifies the proving of one’s Federal Disability Retirement application.  Ask OPM about it; if you can even get a response back.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Disability Retirement for Federal Workers: How and What

In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether under FERS or CSRS, “how” one states something is often just as important as the “what” one says.

The latter is relevant for obvious reasons:  the subject of the statement is the “identifier” for purposes of directing the reader (in this case, the person who is handling your Federal Disability Retirement benefit application at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management) to focus upon a particular matter; but just as importantly, “how” it is said — i.e., the tone, tenor and context of the “what”.

How a medical report is stated will often determine the success of a Federal Disability Retirement application, more than what is expected to be said.  For, from the perspective of the Office of Personnel Management, the generic “what” (the subject matter of the application) will almost always contain the obvious:  that there is a medical condition; that the medical condition prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job; that the Federal or Postal worker will make statements and claims of an inability to perform certain key elements of one’s job because of one’s medical conditions, etc.

On the other hand, how it is stated:  Is it persuasive?  Does the doctor follow from a reasonable explanation to an unequivocal conclusion?  Is the doctor convincing?  While the “what” of a Federal Disability Retirement application, whether under FERS or CSRS, may be a necessary condition of a Federal Disability Retirement application, it may not be sufficient; sufficiency may be determined by how a Federal Disability Retirement application is prepared, formulated, and ultimately filed.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

Medical Retirement for Federal Workers: Being Effective is the Point

In preparing, formulating and filing a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, it is important to bifurcate the various and multitudinous issues, assign (implicitly) the import, relevance and correlative significance of each issue as it relates and satisfies the criteria for eligibility; then, to proceed to systematically delineate each such issue, yet present them in a narrative fashion such that they constitute a sufficiently human narrative to convey the impact of the medical condition.  

As the Office of Personnel Management often attempts to rebut and argue, the “mere existence of a medical condition does not warrant approval of a Federal Disability Retirement application.”  That being said, a clinical approach to listing a set of diagnosed medical conditions obviously is insufficient to persuade and convince the Office of Personnel Management of one’s eligibility and entitlement to Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.  For, isn’t that ultimately the point — to get it approved?  

It becomes an act of futility to stand on a hilltop and repetitively declare, “I have a medical condition,” without being effective in presenting such a condition and obtaining an approval.  Of course, this is an administrative process; as such, it will often take more than the First Stage of the process before all of the factors coalesce with a resultant approval — the right balance between persuasion, facts, narrative form, medical documentation, legal argumentation, clinical notes, statement of disability, etc. Being “effective” means attaining that right balance between the medical, the legal, and the personal.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement for Federal and USPS Workers: Arming the Doctor after Disarming

It is one thing to provide an explanation of the process of filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS to the treating doctor; that is simply not enough.  Providing an explanation “disarms” the health professional.  While such explanation and helping the doctor to understand the process is certainly helpful, ultimately the treating doctor needs more than information; he or she needs guidance in order to “arm” one’s self with the tools necessary to help the patient. 

Fortunately, most doctors are professional, compassionate, and eager to help.  Writing medical reports are an administrative aspect of the practice of medicine which is not only a headache, but takes the doctor away from the valuable and limited time for actually treating the patient.  It is therefore important for the Federal or Postal employee who is applying for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS to “arm” the doctor with the necessary tools needed in order to successfully prepare, formulate and construct a sufficient and effective narrative report in order to “pass muster” with the Office of Personnel Management.  The first and primary rule in helping to prepare the doctor is to always protect and maintain the integrity of the doctor.  Truth in every endeavor, and especially in filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS, should be the ultimate guiding light.  How that truth is stated, however, is where the guidance, tooling and “arming” comes into play.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire