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

OPM Medical Retirement: Extreme Fatigue

The phrase itself can denote at least two connotations of conceptual paradigms, depending upon which word the emphasis is placed upon:  of an overwhelming sense of exhaustion that is experientially devastating to an exponential degree or, that one is so depleted and tired from the constant state of the extreme.

To experience extreme fatigue is to have a medical condition; to be tired of the constancy of crisis after crisis, is to live an existence which cannot be sustained forever.  Both states can be experienced simultaneously, especially when a medical condition occurs, because the debilitating effects of the disability begins to take its toll upon the individual’s mind, body and soul, and further, because outside reactionary influences tend to make an imbalance upon one’s perspective.

For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who is experiencing both forms of the phrase, it is probably time to consider filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.

When an overwhelming sense of exhaustion and tiredness beyond mere overexertion begins to overtake, it is an indicator that the medical condition is taking its toll.  When the daily circumstances of one’s life tend to be interpreted as a constancy of extremes, like the proverbial “boy who cried wolf” once too often, and the daily events become skewed to such an extent that one becomes overwhelmed by the persistence of events, and where the extraordinary becomes the daily norm, then it is also a sign of portending causes to recognize.

Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is not an option of the extreme, although it may be one of the few and limited alternatives left for the Federal or Postal worker who has been struggling to maintain a linear level of normalcy for years on end.

Rather, it is a recognition of human frailty, and the limits of endurance, and ultimately a choice of reflective wisdom in recognizing when the extreme of life’s circumstances begin to take its toll, the resulting impact is often the mental, emotional and physical exhaustion beyond mere tiredness, and where the signs become clear that time is not on the side of health, but where health must accept the timeless constancy of changing extremes.

Sincerely,

Robert R. McGill, Esquire