Federal OPM Disability Retirement: Preexisting Conditions

Last Updated on December 30, 2014 by Federal Disability Lawyer

There is still some confusion with respect to the relevance of preexisting medical conditions, or medical conditions which were incurred while working, or outside of the workplace, and the impact of such medical disabilities upon one’s right to file for disability retirement under FERS or CSRS. This confusion is evident from some of the questions I have been recently asked.

Remember that preexisting medical conditions are irrelevant to filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, in most cases; the fact that an individual has been able to perform the essential elements of one’s job for many years, but comes to a point in his or her career where the medical condition has been exacerbated, or deteriorated, to the point where it begins to prevent one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job, is all that is needed to be shown.

It matters not that the medical condition “preexisted” one’s Federal service; and, indeed, many of my client’s began working with a VA disability rating, but worked successfully for a number of years, until the medical condition(s) underlying the VA disability rating worsened, or came to a point where it began to impact his or her ability to perform the job functions. Similarly, whether or not the injury or medical disability was incurred while working or while on a skiing trip, is irrelevant.

The primary point and focus in FERS & CSRS disability retirements cases, is that a person has the minimum years of Federal Service (5 years for CSRS; 18 months for FERS), and during the person’s Federal Service, he or she incurred a medical condition such that it prevents one from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s job.


Robert R. McGill, Esquire

One thought on “Federal OPM Disability Retirement: Preexisting Conditions

  1. Happy Holidays. I’ve worked for the FAA for almost thirty years! (7/27/80) I’ve been a Air traffic Controoler since 1982. I’ve been eligle for retirement for a couple of years.
    Back in 2007, I had three back surgeries, that left me without a medical clearance to control airplanes. I’ve been performing Staff duties for the last 16 months, but wonder what my choices are?
    IS a disability retirement capped at 40%? My back issues are considered a Disability by the FAA and my doctors. I wonder what my choices are?

    Stan Hale

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