Can Pre-Existing Conditions Qualify for Federal Disability Retirement?

Feb 27, 2023

man holding neck at computer

If you have a pre-existing condition that is now affecting your ability to work, you may be wondering if you qualify for Federal Disability Retirement. The simple answer is yes, but there are a few caveats.

The bulk of your case will focus on supportive medical documentation and statements proving your condition to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). So, you want to be as confident as possible when putting together your case.

How to Qualify for Federal Disability Retirement

The OPM defines disability as “Any medical condition that inhibits an employee from continuing to complete at least one of the major functions of their current position.”

In order to qualify for Federal Disability Retirement, you must be able to prove that your condition has either begun or worsened after a period of useful and efficient service. If you have a pre-existing condition, you cannot take a federal job and then wait until you are eligible to file for Federal Disability Retirement. Your condition must have worsened to the point where it is now impacting your ability to do your job.

You can show previous useful and efficient service through performance evaluations, work history, or supervisor statements.

How to Prove Your Condition Has Worsened

For Federal Disability Retirement you must prove that your condition has worsened to the point where it is affecting your job. There are a few ways you can go about proving that your condition has worsened and most require having a supportive medical professional on your side.

You can get support from your doctor (or doctors) to provide medical documentation that backs up your claim. This could be new diagnoses, work restrictions, and increased treatment or medication that you may need as a result of your condition.

Performance evaluations can also help prove that your condition has worsened if you can also prove previous useful and efficient service. You must have a service deficiency in performance, attendance, or conduct to be approved for Federal Disability Retirement.

Additionally, if you have a VA disability rating that has increased since you were employed that can show a worsening of your condition.

Physical vs Mental Pre-Existing Conditions

Both physical and mental conditions can be approved for Federal Disability Retirement, but proving your conditions are pre-existing can differ depending on your condition.

Mental Conditions

We often see clients with pre-existing mental conditions that have gotten worse during their federal service. Mental conditions are hard to prove to begin with as there are few diagnostic tests but proving they have worsened can be even more challenging.

In this case, it is recommended to have legal representation to compile the most supportive application for Federal Disability Retirement.

Some common pre-existing mental conditions we see are anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Physical Conditions

Physical conditions can often worsen over time due to your work environment or stress. A lot of federal jobs require high fit for duty standards that can be hard to maintain for multiple years, causing pre-existing conditions to worsen over time.

Some common pre-existing physical conditions we see are asthma, diabetes, and lupus.

How We Help

Applying for Federal Disability Retirement can be an overwhelming process, no matter your condition. Pre-existing conditions can be tricky and the OPM wants to ensure that your condition has worsened, and you haven’t just struggled through your job in order to qualify for this benefit

Having an experienced legal team on your side can help simplify the process and take the weight off your shoulders.

We help gather the right medical evidence to support your claim and ensure that all the correct documentation is included in your application.

We have helped over 8,000 federal employees apply for this benefit and we know exactly what the OPM is looking for.

Schedule a FREE consultation with our firm today to get started.

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