USDA is entitled to know that an employee or applicant has a covered disability that requires a reasonable accommodation. If the individual has an obvious disability or previously documented medical condition that qualifies him/her as an individual with a disability and the accommodation request is related to the known disability, the accommodation request shall be considered immediately without the need for further medical documentation.
If the individual does not have an obvious disability or previously documented medical condition that qualifies him/her as an individual with a disability, he/she may be required to provide sufficient and reasonable documentation of his/her medical condition to the Mission Area Designee, who will determine, in consultation with the USDA Medical Officer, as necessary, whether the requestor is an individual with a disability.
The Mission Area Designee will request relevant supplemental medical information if information submitted does not clearly explain the nature of the disability, or need for reasonable accommodation, or does not otherwise clarify how the requested accommodation will assist the employee to perform the essential functions of the job or enjoy benefits and privileges of the workplace. In the case of an applicant, relevant supplemental medical information may be requested to determine the nature of the disability or how the accommodation will assist with the application process.
The Mission Area Designee will seek information or documentation about the disability and the functional limitations from the individual, and/or ask the individual to obtain such information from an appropriate professional. Not all information need be medical, as the appropriate information may be received from a social worker or rehabilitation counselor. The documentation received must be sufficient for the Mission Area Designee to determine if the requestor is an individual with a disability. Additional documentation may be requested to make this determination, if necessary. In order for appropriate and useful information to be obtained, all requests should describe the nature of the individualís job, the essential functions and any other relevant information. The Mission Area Designee or other decision maker shall consult with the USDA Medical Officer, when necessary, regarding the interpretation of medical documentation.
If the information provided by the health professional (or the information volunteered by the individual requesting the accommodation) is insufficient to enable the Mission Area Designee to determine if the requestor has a disability, the decision maker may ask for further information. First, however, s/he will explain to the individual seeking the accommodation, in specific terms, why the information that has been provided is insufficient, what additional information is needed, and why it is necessary for a determination of the reasonable accommodation request.
The individual may then ask the health care or other appropriate professional to provide the missing information. Alternatively, the Mission Area Designee and the individual requesting the accommodation may agree that the individual will sign a limited release, and the Mission Area Designee may thereafter submit a list of specific questions to the individualís health care professional or may otherwise contact the individualís doctor.
If, after a reasonable period of time, there is still not sufficient information to demonstrate that the individual has a disability and needs a reasonable accommodation, the decision maker may request that a physician chosen by the Mission Area Designee examine the individual, at the Mission Area or Agencyís expense. The decision maker will be advised, by the physician, of the individualís relevant medical condition and any additional relevant information about the individualís functional limitations, if necessary.
The failure to provide appropriate documentation or to cooperate in USDAís efforts to obtain such documentation can result in a denial of the reasonable accommodation.
Previous page (Interactive process)|Next page (Confidentiality)
Table of Contents