Stress is defined by Oxford Living Dictionaries as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.” It’s found in every part of life, good or bad—marriage, divorce, working with others, doctor appointment, etc.
An eligibility requirement for federal disability retirement is having a medical condition (injury or illness) that prevents your ability to provide useful and efficient service in your current job with the federal government. It’s certainly true stress can make you ill and cause a host of medical or mental issues, but is stress alone enough to qualify you for federal disability retirement?
The main question here is if you were removed from your stressful environment, would you be able to perform your essential job duties efficiently? Would you “get better”? If the answer is yes, or probably, stress would not qualify you. On the other hand, if the answer is no, then you need to understand how to successfully prove your “situational disability”.
A situational disability is location specific, attributed to something or someone that only shows up at your workplace. The disability is NOT situational if it extends beyond the workplace and prevents you from doing ANY job in your agency.
These cases are especially hard to prove because it’s usually considered causally connected to something or someone, so merely removing yourself from that environment would essentially “cure” you. If you’re going to claim stress as your medical condition, be sure to include objective medical evidence connecting the stressor to your inability to perform your job duties.
If your stress is causing additional mental health conditions like anxiety or depression, that could further help your Federal Disability Retirement case. Learn more about applying for Federal Disability Retirement with a mental health condition.