On my website, Federal Disability Retirement Lawyer, I give a more extensive explanation of a recent and important case impacting federal disability retirement applications, but I think that it is important for everyone filing, or contemplating filing, for disability retirement under FERS or CSRS, to be aware of the recent United States Court of Appeals case for the Federal Circuit, Vanieken-Ryals v. OPM, #2006-3260, decided on November 26, 2007, in which it was found that OPM’s adherence to the rule that they will refuse to “consider such medical evidence…for being ‘purely subjective’ is a critical legal error…and clearly prejudicial.”
Often, in cases involving cognitive impairment, psychiatric disabilities, disabilities involving diffuse and chronic pain, and those conditions such as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, etc. the Federal Circuit Court in Vanieken-Ryals has essentially held that OPM’s adherence to “objective evidence” is “unsupported in the law, was arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law.”
The Judge therein stated that OPM must consider the medical evidence that is submitted, and cannot attack a medical condition unless there is a doubt as to the “credentials or veracity [of the doctor],” and this is especially true where the doctor has “utilized established diagnostic criteria and [is] consistent with ‘generally accepted professional standards’ ” of medical practice.
This is an important case for Federal disability retirement applicants to use when filing for psychiatric medical disabilities, and for those “hard to define” cases (again, e.g., Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, etc.), because OPM will often declare as a basis for denial that the applicant lacked “objective medical evidence” or that there was no “objective diagnostic tests” showing the medical condition. This is, to use a very well-know legal term, now considered “baloney”. As long as the doctor has applied established diagnostic criteria and generally accepted professional standards, unless OPM can attack the credentials of the doctor, they must consider the medical evidence.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire