My Client Had Fibromyalgia

If you are considering disability retirement for Fibromyalgia, you should get to know what you might be up against.

My client had fibromyalgia. She couldn't do her secretarial duties. She couldn't make it out of bed most mornings given her pain and fatigue. She couldn't function at work given her "fibrofog." Her rheumatologist provided OPM with a detailed and "reasoned" Physician's Statement. It corroborated my client's contentions, from A to Z. There was extensive supporting medical and non-medical documentation, evidencing her diagnosis, her symptoms and how they precluded her from performing her job duties as a secretary.

It was a compelling case for disability retirement. It should have been granted. But OPM turned her down. And it turned her down based on law which did not exist then and which does not exist now.

"FIRBOMYALGIA IS A MYSTERY TO OPM ADJUDICATORS WHO REGULARLY TURN DOWN CASES BECAUSE OF IGNORENCE OF BOTH LAW AND MEDICINE."

OPM didn't challenge her diagnosis of fibromyalgia. Rather, it came up with the following nonexistent "rule of law":

" You have been diagnosed as having fibromyalgia. This chronic condition is neither progressive nor life threatening and is generally not considered to be a basis for a disability determination. This condition is generally considered to be self-limiting and of a periodic/episodic nature."

Nonsense! 

There is not a single statute, regulation or case which mandates, that before you can get disability retirement for fibromyalgia or any other medical condition, that the disease or injury has to be "progressive or life threatening." Nor is there a single disease or injury, including alcoholism and drug addiction, which is excluded from coverage let alone because it is "self-limiting" (whatever that means) and of a "periodic/episodic nature."

Because a medical condition is, "periodic or episodic" does not prelude coverage; that it gets you one day but not the other or that it brings your life to a halt in the morning but not in the afternoon, none of this matters.

All that matters is if the symptoms of your medical condition prevent you from satisfactorily performing a single critical element of your official job description and that those symptoms can be expected to do so for one year.

If you can't perform a five day, 40 hour per week job; if you can't work half of the days of the week or half of each workday then you can't perform your critical elements.

So this contrived law, rule, regulation, or whatever you want to call it, is nonsense. While I won her case on Reconsideration (appeal), this should never have happened in the first place.

If you are considering OPM Disability Retirement for Fibromyalgia, understand you are facing an uphill battle, and you should probably discuss your situation with an experienced disability retirement attorney before making any big decisions.

Categories: Law Reform

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