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Disability Employment FAQs

  • Under the new 5 CFR 213.3102(u) appointing authority, a hiring agency may make:
    • Under the 5 CFR 213.3102(u) Schedule A appointing authority regulations, an agency may make a temporary appointment when:
      • The agency determines that it is necessary to observe the applicant on the job to determine whether the applicant is able or ready to perform the duties of the position. When an agency uses this option to determine an individual's job readiness, the hiring agency may convert the individual to a permanent appointment in the excepted service whenever the agency determines the individual is able to perform the duties of the position; or
      • The work is of a temporary nature.
    • A temporary appointment of an individual who provides proof of a disability and certification of job readiness, when the duties of the position do not require it to be filled on a permanent basis. (Refer to 5 CFR 213.104 for the definition of temporary appointment)
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  • The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued final regulations pertaining to the Schedule A Hiring Authority for the appointment of intellectual disabilities, severe physical disabilities, or psychiatric disabilities.  This final rule removes the requirement for a certification of job readiness.  To learn more, refer to http://chcoc.gov/transmittals/TransmittalDetails.aspx?TransmittalID=5333
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  • OPM expanded the types of entities from which an agency may accept proof of disability and certification of an applicant's job readiness. Agencies may accept proof and certification from a licensed medical professional (e.g., a physician 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.
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  • Applicants with disabilities must have an intellectual disability, a severe physical disability or a psychiatric disability; have proof of the disability; and meet all required qualifications for the position.
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  • Under the new 5 CFR 213.3102(u) appointing authority, a hiring agency may also, in addition to the temporary appointments identified in the question above, make:
    • A time-limited appointment of an individual who provides proof of disability, when the duties of the position do not require it to be filled on a permanent basis. (Refer to 5 CFR 213.104 for the definition of time-limited appointment.)
    • A permanent appointment of an individual who provides proof of disability.  Note to hiring agencies: the intent of Executive Orders 12125 and 13124 is to permit these deserving individuals (upon meeting the requirements) to obtain civil service competitive status which is obtained through conversion to the competitive service rather than remaining in the excepted service.
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  • Reasonable accommodation is any change to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done that allows an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform job functions, or enjoy equal access to benefits available to other individuals in the workplace. Agencies are required by law to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship to the agencies. In addition, Executive Order 13164 requires Federal agencies to develop written procedures for providing reasonable accommodation. For more information on reasonable accommodation, refer to the reasonable accommodation policy for your particular agency, the Reasonable Accommodation section in the HR Professionals chapter of this website, and the EEOC.
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  • OPM provides information about the application process at www.opm.gov/disability/appempl_3-11.asp.  There are several other application options available to applicants with disabilities.  For example:
    • Competitive Appointments.  Many applicants with disabilities find employment through standard competitive procedures in the same manner as individuals without disabilities.  (www.usajobs.gov)
    • Student Employment Programs.  This program helps Federal employers find the right people to fill current and future hiring needs.  It also gives students the opportunity to get hands-on experience.  This program has two major components – the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) and the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP).  (www.usajobs.gov/students.asp)
    • Federal Career Intern Program.  This program is designed to help agencies recruit and attract exceptional individuals into a variety of occupations.  It was created under Executive Order 13162, and is intended for positions at grade levels GS-5, 7, and 9.  In general, individuals are appointed to a 2-year internship.  Upon successful completion of the internships, the interns may be eligible for permanent placement within an agency.  (www.opm.gov/careerintern/)
    • Veterans Appointments.  There are a number of authorities available to assist veterans who are seeking, or wish to change, Federal employment including, Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA), 30% or More Disabled Veterans Program, and Veterans Employment Opportunity Act (VEOA) appointments.  See OPM's VetGuide at http://www.opm.gov/veterans/vetguide.pdf [208 KB]
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  • The Federal Register has posted the new regulation on the Federal Register website at http://origin.www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/ and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has posted it on its website at www.opm.gov/fedregis and www.opm.gov/disability. OPM provided notification to Federal agencies through the Chief Human Capital Officer Council.
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  • Agencies should use this hiring authority for a number of good reasons:
    • Individuals with disabilities are a source of excellent applicants.
    • No public notice is required. This may shorten the time to hire a well qualified candidate
    • It can support an agency's Career Patterns initiative. Technological advances and growing emphasis on telework may dovetail with the needs of many applicants with disabilities.
    • Agencies don't have to clear surplus employees lists prior to using the appointing authority.
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  • An agency may noncompetitively convert to a career or career-conditional appointment in the competitive service an employee who has completed 2 years of satisfactory service under this authority. Satisfactory service is service that begins with a non-temporary (e.g., permanent or indefinite) 5 CFR 213.3102(u) appointment. (Refer to 5 CFR 315.709)
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  •   An agency is not required to make an accommodation if it can demonstrate that providing the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on its everyday operations. An undue hardship is an action that requires "significant difficulty or expense" in relation to:  
    • overall size of the agency's program with respect to the number of employees, number and type of facilities and size of budget;
    • type of operation, including the composition and structure of the agency's workforce; and
    • nature and cost of the accommodation.
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  • Executive Order 13163, which became effective in July, 2000, calls for Federal agencies to increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities employed at all levels and occupations in the Federal Government. It focuses attention on the need to hire and advance qualified individuals with disabilities within the Federal Government. Executive Order 13163 also requires each Federal agency to have a plan as to how it will increase the opportunities for individuals to be hired in the agency.
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  • A major life activity is a function that the average person in the general population can perform with little or no difficulty. Major life activities include activities such as caring for oneself, seeing, hearing, walking, breathing, speaking, learning, sitting, standing, lifting, reaching, and working.
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  • 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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  • An individual who is granted a reasonable accommodation might not receive the exact form of accommodation requested. The deciding official has the discretion to identify reasonable and appropriate alternatives.
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  • No, in a case of a 5 CFR 213.3102(u) appointee transferring from one agency to another, time previously spent under a Schedule A appointment counts toward the completion of the 2 year period if the person is reappointed without a break in service.
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  • As with all interviews, the interviewer should have a full understanding of the job requirements before interviewing any candidate. The interviewer should be familiar with his/her agency’s own policies and practices. The interview must focus on abilities and how the applicant will accomplish tasks and meet the goals and objectives of the position. Ask all applicants the same questions including whether or not they have any needs that will require reasonable accommodation. Do not ask specific questions about an applicant's disability even if the disability is obvious. Some applicants will voluntarily explain how their disability relates to their ability to do the job, but others will not. Even if the applicant does discuss a disability, do not ask any questions about the disability that are not relevant to the actual position. It is important not to speculate about how you would perform a specific job if you had the applicant’s disability. For more tips on interviewing people with disabilities, visit the Mainstream website and the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) website.
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  • An agency is not required to make an accommodation if it can demonstrate that providing the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on its everyday operations. An undue hardship is an action that requires "significant difficulty or expense" in relation to:
    • overall size of the agency's program with respect to the number of employees, number and type of facilities and size of budget;
    • type of operation, including the composition and structure of the agency's workforce; and
    • nature and cost of the accommodation.
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  • If the critical functions of a job involve the need to travel, it is important that job candidates and employees are made aware of this requirement. Many people with disabilities are not limited in their ability to travel or perform temporary duty away from the office. In this case, no accommodation is needed. In other cases, a person's disability may affect his or her ability to travel. As with all reasonable accommodations, start with the employee. The accommodation needed for traveling will vary according to a person's disability and the mode, frequency and duration of travel. Constant travel is far different from an occasional trip. Local travel needs are far different from international air travel needs. For an employee who uses the services of an interpreter, reader, or personal assistant, it may be a matter of ensuring that the personal assistant, reader, or interpreter accompany the individual on a trip or be available once the individual reaches the destination. The General Services Administration travel regulations also provide authority to allow airline travel by first-class accommodation when a person with a disability is unable to travel standard coach because of space requirements or mobility limitations. In some cases, travel may not be involved in a critical job function, and it may be possible to redistribute duties in a work center, giving travel duties to some employees and other duties to those employees who have limitations with regard to travel. Sometimes, after looking at the job requirements and consulting with the individual and professional resources on job accommodations, you may find that the particular job requirements and the particular needs/limitations of a person with a disability are simply not compatible.The important point is not to assume that travel is impossible for a disabled person. In many situations, with a little thought and advance planning, a person with a disability can perform required travel and effectively accomplish the requirements of his/her job. For helpful information for travelers with disabilities, see the Disability.gov website.
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  • Generally the agency (employer) must bear the costs of accommodations. Some agencies are organized to provide central funding of the costs of accommodations. Central funding assures that funding is available for accommodations. Check with your personnel office, disability coordinator, or EEO office or your agency’s reasonable accommodation policy to see how funding for accommodations is handled in your agency. Also, the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) at the Department of Defense may pay the cost of any technology-related accommodations for covered agencies. Contact the CAP for more information. If a client of the State vocational rehabilitation program is being hired, the State agency may pay for those accommodations that the individual would be able to use at any job site (e.g., a Braille notetaking device, an assistive listening device for use with the telephone). The State agency generally does not pay for accommodations to a work station or worksite that must then remain at that location after the individual leaves. If a client of the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is being hired, the VA may pay the cost of accommodations.
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  • An employee with a disability who fails to meet performance standards or whose conduct on the job is inappropriate should receive the same treatment as an employee without a disability. In most cases, documentation of poor performance or misconduct should be collected, and the employee should be advised that there are issues of concern. As with any employee, the disabled employee’s failure to address performance or conduct issues may result in letters of counseling, suspension, and even termination. The disabled employee has the same rights as the non-disabled employee to appeal these personnel actions. For additional information, contact your human resources office; OPM also has posted information on employee relations issues on their Employee Relations website.
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  • No, individuals with disabilities are eligible to be noncompetitively converted in any Federal agency. Agency selective placement coordinators are urged to try and place disabled people with other agencies, if placement in their own agency is not possible. Checking the job listings on the OPM USAJOBS (www.usajobs.gov) is one way to locate appropriate positions for these individuals.
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  • You should discuss this matter with your supervisor and attempt to resolve the situation (including any misunderstanding) informally. In addition, be ready, willing, and able to volunteer for assignments as opportunities arise. By taking the initiative to volunteer, you speak volumes about your attitude and approach to the work in the office.
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  • If you are required to travel as an essential function of your job, you are entitled to reasonable accommodation to travel if you need such accommodation. You should start by discussing your need for reasonable accommodations frankly with your supervisor. Accommodations may be made in a wide variety of ways. If you are unable to travel standard coach because of space requirements or mobility limitations, General Services Administration travel regulations provide authority to allow airline travel by first-class. For an employee who uses the services of an interpreter, reader or personal assistant, it may be a matter of ensuring that the personal assistant, reader or interpreter will accompany the individual on a trip or be available once the individual reaches the destination. If travel is not an essential function of the job but only an occasional requirement, you might ask your supervisor if some of the work in your office might be redistributed, allowing you to take on other assignments rather than travel. If you need additional information on how you might be accommodated during travel, you might want to talk to your human resources specialist. For more helpful information for travelers with disabilities, see the Disability.gov website.
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Total Count: 95, Number of Pages: 4, Page: 1
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