FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Do Psychiatric Disabilities Still Carry a Stigma? - Administrative Law Legal Blogs Posted by Robert R. McGill - Lawyers.com

FERS & CSRS Disability Retirement: Do Psychiatric Disabilities Still Carry a Stigma?

     Do Psychiatric Conditions still carry a stigma?  Does
the Office of Personnel Management, or the Merit Systems Protection Board,
treat Psychiatric medical conditions any differently than, say, bulging discs,
degenerative disc disease, or carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.?  Is there a
greater need to explain the symptoms of psychiatric conditions, in preparing an
Applicant’s Statement of Disability, than conditions which can be
"verified" by diagnostic testing?  Obviously, the answer should be: 
There is no difference of review of the medical condition by OPM or the
MSPB.  Certainly, this should be the case in light of VaniekenRyals
v. OPM.  Neither OPM nor an MSPB Judge should be able to impose
a requirement in disability retirement cases involving psychiatric disabilities,
that there needs to be "objective medical evidence," precisely
because there is no statute or regulation governing disability retirement which
imposes such a requirement that "objective" medical evidence is
required to prove disability.  As I stated in previous articles, as long as the treating
doctor of the disability retirement applicant utilizes "established
diagnostic criteria" and applies modalities of treatment which are
"consistent with generally accepted professional standards," the
evidence presented concerning psychiatric disabilities should not be treated
any differently than that of physical disabilities.  As the Court in Vanieken-Ryals
stated, OPM’s adherence to a rule which systematically demands medical
evidence of an "objective" nature and refuses to consider
"subjective" medical evidence, is "arbitrary, capricious, and
contrary to law."  Yet, when preparing the Applicant’s Statement of
Disability, it is always wise to utilize greater descriptive terms.  For,
when dealing with medical conditions such as Bipolar disorder, Major
Depression, panic attacks, anxiety, etc., one must use appropriate adjectives
and "triggering", emotional terms — if only to help the OPM
representative or the Administrative Judge understand the human side of the
story. 

 

Sincerely, Robert R. McGill, Esquire

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Licensed since 1988

Member at firm Robert R. McGill

AWARDS

Champion Badge Platinum

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