Does the Federal Government Consider Me Disabled?
Part VII – Reasonable Accommodation and its Interplay with OPM Disability
The Rehabilitation Act/ ADA – OPM Disability CSRS/FERS As stated in previous posts, If you are disabled under the Rehabilitation Act (ADA) and you require a reasonable accommodation, the agency must provide you with that reasonable accommodation unless they can show that there is another less expensive effective accommodation or they can show that accommodating you would be an “undue hardship” on the agency.
Our firm often gets federal employees who are suffering from a physical or mental disability and are trying to determine if they can continue to work. The question then becomes can the employee’s agency provide them with an effective reasonable accommodation. Which in plain language means – can the agency provide the employee with a change in work environment that would allow them to do the essential functions (actions) of their position. If the answer is not then the next step may be that the employee needs to look into applying for OPM Disability. For example, an employee who has severe back issues may request to work at home 3 days a week. If the agency can prove that working at home 3 days is an undue hardship and the employee can no longer make it into work then the agency may be forced to remove that employee. At that point the employee would be smart to look into hiring an attorney to assist them with an application for OPM Disability. There are many nuances in the laws and regulations that govern requests for reasonable accommodation and disability retirement and it can be helpful and sometimes even crucial to hire an attorney to assist you with the process. It can be the difference between living solely on unemployment with no medical insurance or receiving 60% of your pay for the 1styear and 40% thereafter with full medical insurance paid by the federal government.