reasonable accommodations for chronic pain

Over the past few decades, more and more conditions have served as the basis for reasonable accommodation requests.

This is largely thanks to recent efforts by Congress to expand the definition of “disability” under American anti-discrimination laws.

Given these developments, it’s only natural to wonder what are the chronic pain reasonable accommodations for federal employees.

Fortunately, chronic pain work accommodations are possible under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Read on to learn about chronic pain’s classification under the ADA and how you can obtain potential reasonable accommodations for chronic pain.

For legal advice that fits your unique situation, contact our firm of outstanding federal reasonable accommodations attorneys

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Is Chronic Pain a Disability Under the ADA?

chronic pain reasonable accommodations federal employees

Chronic pain is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its amendments, specifically the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA).

The ADAAA significantly broadened the definition of disability to encompass a wide array of medical and physical impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities. The ADAAA’s definition intentionally attempted to cover various conditions that may not have belonged under the original ADA’s definition of disability.

In the context of chronic pain, if it significantly impairs a person’s ability to perform major life activities, it can qualify as a disability under the ADA.

Both the ADA and the ADAAA state major life activities include essential functions such as walking, talking, eating, sleeping, working, thinking, concentrating, interacting with others, and dressing oneself. Because chronic pain can severely limit a person’s ability to engage in these activities, it falls within this definition.

For instance, if an individual’s chronic pain condition hinders their mobility, affects their ability to walk or move, or impacts their cognitive functions, it is a disability under the ADA. The key factor is the degree to which your chronic pain affects your daily life and major activities.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the ADA also protects individuals who are regarded as having a disability. This means that if chronic pain somehow causes others to treat you as a person with a disability because of your chronic pain, you would receive protection under the ADA.

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How to Obtain Reasonable Accommodations for Chronic Pain

You can’t get reasonable accommodations for chronic pain overnight. Rather, you have to follow a specific process to arrive at the ideal outcome. Let’s walk through this process together:

Ground Your Request with Medical Evidence

Substantiate your request with solid medical evidence. This means going beyond a simple doctor’s note. Obtain a comprehensive medical evaluation that discusses the nature, frequency, severity, and impact of your chronic pain on your ability to perform your duties. This documentation is key to proving that your condition qualifies as a disability under the ADA. If you have issues, have your attorney with your medical care team. 

Be Clear About What You Need

Now isn’t the time for a laid-back, casual request. Clearly specify the accommodations you need to perform your job effectively. This could include a flexible work schedule, modifications to your workspace, or permission to work from home. It’s important to demonstrate how these accommodations will mitigate the challenges posed by your chronic pain. Be prepared for an interactive dialogue with your employer to explore these options.

Put Your Request in Writing

There are no “magic words” needed to request a reasonable accommodation. However, it’s best to put your request in writing. Doing so creates a paper trail and helps guarantee that your request goes on record and reaches the appropriate stakeholders. Follow your employer’s guidelines for submitting such requests. Also, review your written request with a legal professional before you submit it. 

Interact with Your Employer

Once you submit your request, you will engage in an interactive process with your employer. This process consists of a collaborative effort by you and your agency to determine the best way to accommodate your needs. Be flexible yet assertive about the necessary accommodations. Be ready to respond to potential alternatives that your employer proposes.

Reach Out to an Attorney If You Encounter Complications

If you encounter resistance or your employer fails to engage in the required interactive process, then seek legal help right away. An experienced federal employment attorney can provide invaluable assistance in getting you through these challenges. They’ll also help guarantee that your rights under the ADA receive due protection.


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Examples of Workplace Accommodations for Chronic Pain

Now that you know accommodations for chronic pain in the workplace are possible, let’s see how these concepts translate into real-world examples. Here are several examples of chronic pain reasonable accommodations for federal employees:

Just a few examples of reasonable accommodations for PTSD employees include:

  • Ergonomic workspace adjustments. This can include ergonomic chairs, standing desks, or specialized keyboard and mouse setups to reduce strain. Such simple adjustments can make a huge difference for employees who experience pain from sitting for long periods. 
  • Remote work options. For some, commuting can exacerbate chronic pain. Offering the option to work from home full-time or on an as-needed basis can help you handle pain more effectively.
  • Frequent breaks. Allowing for additional or longer breaks can enable employees with chronic pain to rest and manage their pain. This in turn helps them maintain productivity throughout the workday. 
  • Pain management accommodations. Examples include the use of heating pads, footrests, or other pain management devices in the office.

If you want to learn more about examples of chronic reasonable accommodations of federal employees, contact a skilled federal employment attorney today. 

Let Us Assist You with Your Chronic Pain Reasonable Accommodation Request

Living with chronic pain is challenging enough without the added stress of struggling for reasonable accommodations in the workplace. Recognizing your right to a supportive work environment under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, we at Pines Federal are committed to ensuring that your journey toward obtaining necessary accommodations is smooth and successful.

At Pines Federal, our attorneys are not only experienced but also deeply dedicated to advocating for federal employees. We believe every federal employee has the right to work in a comfortable and accommodating environment, free from the additional strain of unmanaged pain. Our team has spent years mastering the nuances of federal employment law, representing countless federal employees, and ensuring they can fully exercise their rights.

Don’t let the weight of chronic pain and legal complexities hold you back any longer. Get in touch with Pines Federal today by calling us at (800) 801-0598 or filling out our online form. Let’s embark on this journey together and work towards securing the accommodations you need to thrive in your federal career.