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Job Seekers with Disabilities

Office of Personnel Management Guidelines

The federal government has a special (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.

Because of this special appointing authority, persons with disabilities are allowed to apply and be considered for both types of federal job announcements which are: MPA (merit promotion announcements) as well as DEU (delegated examining unit) job announcements respectively. MPA job announcements are designated for current/former competitive civil service employees, veterans, military spouses, Peace Corps and AmeriCorps-VISTA employees, which are listed as STATUS under the Who Can Apply Section of a Job Announcement. In contrast, DEU job announcements are designated and open to all United States citizens. In order to apply for both types of vacancy announcements, you must meet the job requirements for each position.

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 some federal 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 Program Coordinator. Unfortunately, this option is not available at the Smithsonian Institution at this time. You may be considered via the competitive employment process only (unless a hiring manager has identified and selected you for a position).

The Schedule A Program does NOT guarantee you a job. You may also be subject to a probationary period which can last up to two years, depending on the type of appointment. During probation, employees hired under the Schedule A are held to the same performance standards as all other employees.

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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 (see attached sample certification letter).

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 the Smithsonian Selective Placement Program Coordinator Regina Anderson via email: AndersonRegina@si.edu.

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