The danger of falling into the trap of situational disability, which is one of a number of reasons for denying a FERS Disability Retirement application, can come about quite regularly. Especially because, in the face of contending with a medical disability that is serious enough to warrant changing one’s career, of filing for medical disability retirement — there is often the Agency’s contentious response, of needing to have the continuity of the work accomplished, of being insensitive and lacking compassion for the applicant; in such a context, the applicant views the Agency’s response as hostile.
The employee/applicant, then, in filing for disability retirement, will often make the mistake of focusing upon the hostile work environment, or the lack of compassion and empathy on the part of the Agency — and this will often warrant a denial of disability retirement based upon the medical condition of the applicant as being “situational disability” — meaning that the medical condition of the employee/applicant is limited to the work situation of that particular office or agency.
This is a completely wrong-headed approach for the applicant. That is why, when I represent my clients, I am singularly focused upon the 2 or 3 main issues that form the essence of a Federal Disability Retirement case, and insist upon focusing my clients upon those very same issues, while setting aside those tangential issues which can ultimately defeat a disability retirement application.
Understand that these peripheral, tangential issues may well be “important” to my client — but I would not be doing my job in representing my clients if I allowed the peripheral issues to become “front and center” — for that would be a disaster for my clients. I represent people to obtain disability retirement benefits.
That is my job as a lawyer. That is my focus. If I allow my focus to waiver, then I am not representing my clients properly.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire
Federal Disability Attorney