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Frequently Asked Questions Employment

Disability Employment

  • An individual can make either an oral or written request for accommodation. To request an accommodation, an individual may use "plain English" and does not need to mention the Rehabilitation Act or "reasonable accommodation." A family member, friend, health professional, or other representative may request a reasonable accommodation on behalf of an individual with a disability. An individual with a disability may request a reasonable accommodation at any time during the application process or during the period of employment. The request for a reasonable accommodation must be made for a reason related to a medical condition.
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  •   A qualified individual with a disability has the skills, experience, education, and other requirements of the job the individual holds or desires, and can perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.  
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  • Agency Human Resources Offices will process Standard Form 50's, Notification of Personnel Actions, in accordance with OPM's Guide to Processing Personnel Actions. This Guide will be updated with the appropriate codes for use when converting current employees on the (t) or (gg) authorities to (u). OPM will issue official guidance concerning correct coding procedures.
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  • Agencies may employ personal assistants for employees with disabilities, including those with visual and hearing impairments, under authority provided by 5 U.S.C. 3102. In addition, Section 3102(d) of the law authorizes the payment of pay and allowances for an individual who accompanies an employee with a disability on official travel. Specifically, the statute provides that the head of an agency may authorize the payment to an individual to accompany or assist (or both) the employee with a disability for all or a portion of the travel period involved. The statute further provides that the accompanying individual shall be considered an employee, but only for purposes of the Federal Employees' Compensation Act and the Federal Tort Claims Act. Accordingly, 5 U.S.C. Section 3110, which provides that a public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance or advocate for a relative (as defined in the section), does not prohibit pay to an accompanying spouse.
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  • Decisions on making accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis. Executive Order 16134, however, requires each Federal agency to establish effective written procedures to facilitate the provision of reasonable accommodation for applicants and employees. Contact specific agencies for information on their decision-making process.
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  • Your supervisor (or selecting official, if you are in the process of being hired) will normally arrange for an assessment of your request for reasonable accommodation. An assessment includes a review of the job duties, how job duties are normally accomplished, the work environment and the specific nature of your disability. The purpose of an assessment is to determine what accommodations would allow you to perform the essential job functions successfully. For those Federal agencies without "in-house" capability, employers can obtain an assessment of the need for reasonable accommodation from several sources. Some are: State vocational rehabilitation agencies, the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) at the Department of Defense, the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service at the Department of Veterans Affairs (for veterans) or the Job Accommodation Network (JAN).
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  • No, the new rules apply only to those individuals with intellectual disabilities, severe physical disabilities, or psychiatric disabilities. (References: Executive Orders 12125 and 13124).
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  • The Executive Orders authorizing these appointments are limited to people with intellectual disabilities, severe physical disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. Executive Order 12125 dated March 15, 1979, and Executive Order 13124 dated June 4, 1999, permit individuals with intellectual disabilities, severe physical disabilities, or psychiatric disabilities to obtain competitive status after two years of satisfactory service in an excepted service position. These Executive Orders were established to assist these individuals with disabilities and to build a Federal workforce that draws from the strength of America's diversity.
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  • People with disabilities are appointed through a number of hiring authorities for temporary (one year or less), term (more than one year up to four years), and permanent appointments. The majority of people with disabilities working for the Federal government are in the civil service and were appointed competitively. Competitively means that they applied for a vacancy announcement published by either OPM or an agency. Typically, they were then rated and ranked in comparison to the other applicants for the vacancy and referred to the selecting supervisor for consideration. The selecting supervisor then interviewed and identified which candidate he/she would hire. However, there are a number of excepted hiring authorities, meaning competition is not required, that apply to individuals with disabilities. These hiring authorities cover: people with intellectual disabilities; people with severe physical disabilities; people with psychiatric disabilities; disabled veterans enrolled in a VA training program; and veterans determined to be 30 percent or more disabled. Consult with your human resources office to ensure that you use the best hiring strategy for your specific vacancy.
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  • The regulation modernizes the appointment processes in several significant ways:
    • The appointing authorities for persons with disabilities (excepted service) Schedule A appointing authorities 5 CFR 213.3102(t) (intellectual disabilities), (u) (severe physical disabilities), and (gg) (psychiatric disabilities) are combined into one streamlined authority, 5 CFR 213.3102(u). 
    • Agencies may accept proof of disability from an expanded number of entities, i.e., a licensed medical professional (e.g.,a physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist, or other medical professional duly certified by a State, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. territory, to practice medicine); a licensed vocational rehabilitation specialist (i.e., State or private); or any Federal agency, State agency or agency of the District of Columbia or a U.S. territory that issues or provides disability benefits.
    • The temporary employment options for appointments under the new authority, 5 CFR 213.3102(u), are clarified. Agencies may make temporary (for positions not expected to last more than 1 year), time-limited or permanent appointments under this authority.
    • The employment options for appointments under this authority are clarified. An agency may appoint the individual to a time-limited appointment
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