The question is often asked, “Does my medical condition qualify for Federal Disability Retirement?”, or some variation of that question.
Such a question, of course, in order to “make sense” in the context of a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS, must be reformulated, precisely because the manner in which it is posed produces multiple sub-questions. For, ultimately, the laws and regulations governing Federal Disability Retirement do not provide for a calculus of a mathematical correspondence, where medical condition X is considered a “qualifying” one, whereas medical condition Y fails to meet such a qualification criteria.
The sub-questions which are immediately necessitated by the originating question, involve multiple factors: Does the medical condition you suffer from impact your ability to perform one or more of the essential elements of your job? In what way? Can you describe how the medical condition impacts your ability to perform your job? Are you being medically treated for your medical condition? Will the doctor support you in your quest and application for Federal Disability Retirement benefits?
Take, for instance, the following “extreme” hypothetical, used for purposes of expanding upon the previous conceptual paradigm: Question: Does my aching right thumb qualify for Federal Disability Retirement benefits? Answer: Normally not. Sub-question: If my job requires the constant and repetitive use of my right thumb, and such use is an essential element of my job, can my aching right thumb qualify me for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS? Answer: In all likelihood, yes.
Often, it is the right question asked, and not the answer to the original question, which is the important starting point of the process in preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, whether under FERS or CSRS, from the Office of Personnel Management.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire