Stress is found in every workplace, home, relationship, and part of life in general. One of the requirements for qualifying for federal disability retirement is having a medical condition that disqualifies you from performing useful and efficient service. Meaning, that you cannot perform the essential duties of your job. Knowing this, can stress be a qualification for federal disability retirement?
The answer, unfortunately, is not a simple yes or no. The most important question here is “Would removal from the stressful environment cure me?”. If the answer is yes, then it’s not the medical condition that prevents you from performing the essential elements of your job, but the element of stress itself (hostile environment, supervisor, co-worker, etc.). Therefore, stress would not qualify you for federal disability retirement.
However, if the answer is no, it becomes a bit more convoluted. And another question may arise; “How do I avoid the pitfalls of claiming stress as a situational disability?”.
First, you need to understand what situational disability is:
- Location-specific (attributed to something or someone within a specific location).
- A medical condition that only shows up in the workplace.
A disability is NOT situational if it extends beyond a specific work environment/situation and hinders you from doing ANY job within the agency or Postal service.
So why is stress so hard to prove as a medical condition for federal disability retirement?
- Because it’s considered to be causally connected to something.
- We often think to ask “What’s making you stressed?”.
- We also characterize stress as a loose, generic term that we attribute complex disorders to.
The way you represent stress when filing can make all the difference. The following are extremely important to include in your application to the Office of Personnel Management:
- Objective medical clinical reports, diagnoses, and findings that connect the alleged hostile environment to the physical or psychological diagnosis.
- Subjective evidence of pain or disability.
- Any evidence (subjective/objective) related to the impact that the medical condition has on your ability to perform the essential job duties.
- Evidence your agency can’t or won’t reassign you to a vacant position at the same grade or level last occupied.
If you have found yourself unable to perform your job duties and think that stress has caused your medical condition, please give us a call at 877-226-2723 and schedule a FREE consultation. You can also fill out this INQUIRY form.