What illness qualifies for Federal Disability Retirement?

Sep 29, 2016

A federal employee learning about illnesses


As discussed in part 1 of this post, physical illnesses can qualify you for Federal Disability Retirement. But did you know, Psychological and Psychiatric disorders can also qualify you for Federal Disability Retirement? These can be tougher cases to prove simply because they require much more documentation. Treatment notes such as diagnosis, symptoms, your treatment plan, prognosis, a history of your treatments (including every medication prescribed), and how you responded to each treatment are all extremely important as evidence for your case. However, the most important notes that need to be included in your packet is how your condition has impaired your functioning, and more importantly, your job functioning. Here are a few common psychological disorders that may qualify you for disability benefits.

Major Depressive Disorder

This disorder can cause a loss of interest in activities and a depressed mood. Trouble concentrating, thoughts of suicide and an extreme loss of energy are other symptoms. In order to be diagnosed with this, you must exhibit 5 or more symptoms on most days for two weeks or longer. At least one of these symptoms must include a depressed mood or loss of interest in activities. Some treatments include counseling, medication, or even Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) that helps target the part of your brain that controls mood.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

This is caused by a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a violent crime, a car accident, or war. To be diagnosed with PTSD, you must have been in one of these situations where you were at risk of sexual violation, serious injury, or death. This disorder changes the chemistry in your brain and affects your relationships and everyday functioning. It can also lead to other psychiatric problems, such as depression. Some symptoms include flashbacks, emotional detachment, and jumpiness. Medication and cognitive psychotherapy can be helpful treatments.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is widely thought of as affecting people who are past retirement age or already retired. However, Early Onset Alzheimer’s can occur in your 40’s! This disease robs you of your memory and the ability to take care of yourself. This means it affects how you function in your job. A buildup of a protein in the brain called amyloid is believed to cause this. Having too much of it affects the way you think. There is no cure for it, but medication can control the symptoms.


Considered to be the most chronic and debilitating of all mental illnesses, Schizophrenia distorts the way you think, express emotion, act, view reality, and relate to others. It causes problems functioning at school, work, and in relationships. Furthermore, delusions, hallucinations, and catatonia are common symptoms. This is a lifelong disease that has no known cure. The goal is to lessen the symptoms using medications, psychosocial therapy, ECT, or even hospitalization.

As mentioned before, OPM doesn’t have a set list illnesses or disorders that will qualify you for Federal Disability Retirement. If you suffer from one of these and it causes you to be unable to perform your job duties, the important thing to do is make you sure you have complete documentation of it. Feel free to give us a call at (877) 226-2723 or fill out this inquiry form, and we can walk you through the process and help you make sure you have all the forms and medical evidence you need.

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