Question of the Week: What is Accommodation and How Does It Affect Federal Disability Retirement?
A: One of the requirements to qualify for federal disability retirement is your agency must certify it’s unable to accommodate your disabling condition in your present position and that it has considered you for any vacant position in the same agency at the same grade or pay level, within the same commuting area, for which you are qualified for reassignment.
An agency must exhaust all reasonable efforts to help with service deficiencies through accommodation before it advises an employee to seek disability retirement.
So, what is reasonable accommodation?
Accommodation is an adjustment made to a job and/or work environment that enables a qualified handicapped person to perform the duties of that position. Reasonable accommodation applies to both the employees’ current position and to any vacant position to which the employee could be reassigned.
Reasonable accommodations can include, but are not limited to:
- Modifying work site
- Adjusting work schedule
- Restructuring the job
- Acquiring or modifying equipment and devices
- Providing interpreters, readers, or personal assistants
- Reassigning or retraining the employee
If the agency is successful in accommodating the employee after their disability retirement application has been sent to OPM, the agency must immediately notify OPM.
This can be a tricky thing. Here are a few scenarios that DO NOT count as accommodation:
- Using up sick/annual leave to supplement a FT schedule
- Taking away of job duties
- PT work schedules
The next “Question of the Week” post will look at reassignment.
If you are thinking about federal disability retirement and you have questions about accommodation, or you aren’t sure if your agency is doing what they need to, please feel free to contact us. We would love to set up a FREE consultation with you. Give us a call at 877-226-2723 or fill out this INQUIRY form.