A valid concern for federal employees with a mental disorder is fear that their application for OPM Disability Retirement is doomed from the start due to a dearth of objective medical evidence confirming the diagnosis.
When Mental Health Affects Job Performance
Take a woman who has been employed by the federal government for over twelve years and who has experienced increasing anxiety issues. Her psychiatrist has diagnosed her with Generalized Anxiety for five years and counting, and it is clearly affecting her work product to date.
The overwhelming symptoms and no available accommodation ultimately pushes her to take the final step of resignation and subsequent application to OPM for Disability Retirement. During the process of compiling the paperwork she encounters the requirement for medical documentation, of which there is next to nothing. Sure, she has years of seeing her psychiatrist and therapist, but there is no concrete evidence to prove the debilitating nature of her suffering.
Does this individual have reason to throw in the towel?
What Relief Do Federal Employees Have?
Fortunately, for federal employees who find themselves in a similar situation, there is case law to rely on that shows that an applicant may prevail based on evidence that consists of a medical professional’s conclusive diagnosis, even if grounded primarily on the applicant’s own description of symptoms and indications of disability. Additionally, the case law explains that subjective evidence such as testimony or written statements should be seriously considered, especially where the record does not contradict such evidence.
It is important for federal employees to reach out to experienced law firms who represent the rights of federal employees, such as The Law Offices of Eric L. Pines, PLLC, before pursuing OPM Disability Retirement so that informed decisions can be rendered and skilled guidance is gained for this potentially life-altering step.