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

Federal Disability Attorney

Federal Disability Retirement: Options

Often, in life, we believe that others walk around with esoteric knowledge unavailable and unreleased; it is considered from the viewpoint of what is, in philosophy, identified as an “epistemological privilege” — that as others have private thoughts which are inaccessible to us, so there must be a vast array of knowledge similarly situated.

Experience teaches us to become suspicious of others, as somehow the inner workings of power and wealth tend to bypass most of us, and the list of uninvited guests to cocktail parties reserved exclusively for the select few parallel a privileged club of partisan divides.  But the truism of life’s encounters also unleashes another candid tautology:  most things are quite self-evident, and Ockham’s razor is the general principle of prevailing determinism.

For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are puzzled, dismayed, confused and confined by a lack of awareness concerning one’s options when a medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, information gathering should always be the first step in the process.

Perhaps conundrums will still arise, or confusion may develop resulting from a compounding aggregate of “too much” information “out there”.  Further investigation may be warranted; but in the end, most Federal and Postal employees realize that the options are limited, and the choices relatively uncomplicated.

Federal Disability Retirement remains a preferred option for many, filed through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether one is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, over OWCP-based claims (because Worker’s Comp is not a retirement system, ultimately); beyond staying with the job (because it will normally turn out that doing nothing will only make the situation worse, in most instances); or expecting an accommodation or reassignment (not likely to happen, as agencies and the U.S. Postal Service rarely look out for the best interests of the Federal or Postal worker first).

In the end, options depend upon knowledge; for, as the corner ice cream shop of yesteryear had but two flavors, vanilla and chocolate, so the modern-day chain sensation may tout 50 or more; but we tend to always come back to the basics, where we find that multiplicity of additives does not make for real alternatives in life.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire