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Job Seekers with Disabilities

Office of Personnel Management Guidelines

The federal government has a special Schedule A (5 C.F.R. 213.3102(u)) appointing authority for persons with qualifying Intellectual Disabilities, Severe Physical Disabilities, or Psychiatric Disabilities. Disabled veterans may also be considered under special hiring programs for disabled veterans with disability ratings from the Department of Veterans Affairs of 30% or more.

Federal agencies fill positions two ways, competitively and non-competitively. Persons with disabilities may apply for jobs filled either way. All persons who are selected for positions must meet the qualification requirements for the jobs and be able to perform the essential duties of the jobs with or without reasonable accommodation.

Competitively Filled Positions

Jobs that are filled competitively are advertised through USAJOBS. Each announcement contains instructions on how to apply. Approximately 16,000 jobs are available each day. The application process for persons with disabilities for competitive announcements is the same as for non-disabled applicants.

However, one key difference is that persons with disabilities are able to apply to positions open to the public and to positions that are listed as "Status" that they may not otherwise be eligible to apply to, but they must include the required disability documentation, explained below, with their application.

Non-competitively Filled Positions

In addition to competing for a position by applying through a vacancy announcement, persons with qualifying disabilities may also apply directly to agencies' Selective Placement Coordinators or equivalent to be considered for positions. Applicants should send a resume and the required disability documentation, explained below, to the Selective Placement Coordinator.

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Required Disability Documentation

Eligibility for appointment under this Schedule A (5 C.F.R. 213.3102(u)) authority consists of two parts:

  • Proof of Disability: An individual wishing to be hired under this Schedule A (5 C.F.R. 213.3102(u)) authority must provide proof he or she is an individual with an intellectual disability, severe physical disability, or psychiatric disability. This proof must be provided to the hiring agency before an individual can be hired. This proof may be in the form of documentation obtained from licensed medical professionals, state or private vocational rehabilitation specialists, or any government agency that issues or provides disability benefits.
  • Certification of Job Readiness: An individual hired under this authority must be ready to perform the job for which they are being considered. This certification is a statement that the individual is likely to succeed in the performance of the duties of the position for which he or she is applying. For instance, the certification of job readiness for an individual applying for a position as an Administrative Assistant or an Accountant may state that the "individual is likely to succeed performing work in an office environment." This certification of job readiness may be obtained from the same individuals that provided the proof of disability. The certification may be on the same documentation as the proof of disability or it may be a separate document.

In situations where an individual has the proof of disability documentation, but not the certification of job readiness, hiring agencies have the discretion to place an individual on a temporary appointment under Schedule A (5 C.F.R. 213.3102(u)) to determine an individual's job readiness.

For information regarding reasonable accommodations, please see the Smithsonian's Procedures.

For more information visit OPM's "Federal Employment of People with Disabilities" website or contact Smithsonian Disability Placement Coordinator Regina Anderson at 202-633-6329.

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