When a Federal or Postal employee is considering filing for FERS Disability retirement benefits, there are many and varying conflicting responses, wrapped and bundled in emotional turmoil, reactionary and concerned viewpoints, etc. Stories of a “hostile work environment”, of discriminatory actions, harassing supervisors, etc., are often part of the “narrative” of a person considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement.
One must be careful, however, that when the affirmative decision to file for disability retirement is made, that only those relevant aspects of the narrative be included in the final disability retirement packet. Things which do not provide a compelling basis for proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, the necessary criteria for meeting the legal standard to be approved for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS or, just as importantly, things which will harm a disability retirement application– they should be left out of the final narrative.
Such issues surrounding a “hostile work environment” or a harassing supervisor — such perspectives or narrative formulations which come close to the dangerous precipice of showing that one’s medical disability is merely a “situational” disability (those medical conditions which are specifically confined to a specific situation in a specific agency’s office environment) — should certainly be left out of the final narrative. This brings up a further point, which I have touched upon many times in the past: a person without a Federal Disability Retirement attorney to formulate the narrative in filing for OPM Disability Retirement benefits is often too close to his or her own case, and cannot objectively present the proper narrative to the Office of Personnel Management.
Robert R. McGill
Federal Disability Attorney
See also: The Federal Workplace (Part 2)