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Reasonable Accommodation Policy

I. Broad Statement of Policy


The Board is committed to the principles of equal employment and the accommodation of those employees and applicants for employment with disabilities.[i] The following implements the requirements set forth under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 CFR §1614.203(d)(3)) and Executive Order 13164 by establishing requirements for processing requests for reasonable accommodations.

The Board’s policy is to ensure reasonable accommodation is provided to all staff members and applicants who have medical or mental impairment which can be accommodated without undue burden/hardship upon the Agency. Agencies must provide reasonable accommodation to qualified employees or applicants with disabilities unless the accommodation would create an undue hardship on the operation of the agency.[ii] A person with a disability is qualified[iii] for a job if s/he can perform the essential functions of that job with or without the reasonable accommodation. This policy sets forth the means with which the Board provides employees and applicants to seek accommodations when needed and explains the Board processes.

The Board recognizes that reasonable accommodation is a change in the work environment or in the employment application process that would enable a person with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunity. There are three general categories of reasonable accommodations: (1) changes to a job application process to permit individuals with disabilities to apply for and be considered for jobs; (2) changes to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of their job; and (3) changes necessary to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to the benefits and privileges of employment. The Board’s policy is that these requests be handled in a prompt, fair, and efficient manner. The requests will be dealt with whether they are oral or written. The Board does not require any specific form on which an accommodation request must be made, but the Board requests written medical information as necessary to make a prompt decision.

Following the general principles espoused above, the following sets forth the Board’s reasonable accommodation process. The agency will make available to job applicants and employees a copy of its procedures in written and accessible formats and this policy will be posted on its public website. The procedures will be included in a format that meets an individual’s particular need, including braille, large print, etc. Specifically, this policy and process will be placed in the employee manual/handbook for ease of access to it by employees. Applicants will be made aware of the policy in job announcements and during the scheduling of interviews. The policy will be displayed on the Board’s public facing website. The policy will be updated or amended as necessary as the law and regulations are amended or changed or as personnel or other organizational changes are made at the Board impacting this policy.


II. Applicant Requests for Reasonable Accommodation During the Interview Process


A. The Board Efforts to Provide Needed Accommodation to Those Interviewing with the Agency[iv]

  1. All job announcements, however, or wherever issued, will include notification that the Board will accommodate any reasonable accommodation request necessary to allow the applicant to participate in the interview process.
  2. All applicants considered for an interview will be informed via email that the the Board will accommodate any reasonable accommodation request necessary for the applicant to participate in the interview process. The Agency will make available to job applicants a copy of its procedures in written and accessible Accessible format is a format that meets an individual’s particular need, including braille, large print, etc. The board will also direct applicants to its public-facing website to review the entirety of this policy. The Board will not assert undue burden upon it in considering an applicant’s request for accommodation and all applicants will be accommodated upon request.[v]
  3. A request for accommodation by an applicant need not come from the applicant, but may come from a family member, health professional or another individual authorized to speak for the applicant. No specific accommodation needs to be requested or be specifically in mind for the request to be made. The board does not have a form for applicants to request accommodation, and a request in any format will be accepted.
  4. The request for accommodation should be directed during the application process to any individual involved in the Board application process or other individual designated on the job announcement (if so designated).
  5. The Board will confidentially maintain records of requests for accommodation made, including the date, parties and specific accommodation requested and A confidential folder on the Board’s internal SharePoint page will contain these requests which is accessible by very limited senior personnel.


III. The Board Reasonable Accommodation Process for the Board Employees Overview


A. Verbal Notification of the Board Policy

After onboarding by SSA Human Resources personnel, all new staff members will be informed of their right to request a reasonable accommodation during their first week of employment by their immediate supervisor. Further, they will be informed that they (family member, health professional, other individual authorized to speak for the employee) may make their request verbally to their immediate supervisor, or in writing to the immediate supervisor or a member of the management team. When seeking an accommodation, the requesting employee need not have a particular accommodation in mind. The new employee will be directed to review this policy on both the externally facing website and the internal Board Employee Handbook site where all the Board policies are located.

B. Reasonable Accommodation Request Steps Highlighted in the Employee Handbook

The Employee Handbook highlights the reasonable accommodation process in a specific handbook section. The Employee Handbook will be provided to all new employees during the first week of employment in hard copy (if the employee is not 100% remote) and as a link to the Handbook on the agency SharePoint site. That particular section contains the Board policy set forth here and details the steps necessary the employee should follow to request and accommodation. It will inform the new employee as to how to proceed should he or she wish to request reasonable accommodation. The employee or his designee (family member, health professional, other individual authorized to speak for the employee) need not use any specific language when requesting a reasonable accommodation nor have any specific accommodation in mind when making the request.

C. Regular Notification to the Board Staff about Agency Willingness to Provide Needed Accommodation

During routine staff meetings (held at minimum bi-weekly), management will periodically remind all staff that should there be a reasonable accommodation need unmet (either existing or recently developed to notify his or her direct supervisor or a member of management in writing or verbally so that the interactive process can begin. raining on the process is included in EEO training, held annually.

The Board will hold all accommodation request records and documents confidential in a confidential folder on SharePoint, including the date, parties, and specific accommodation requested. Such information will be accessible only by the supervisor, the Staff Director and/or General Counsel as necessary to process such request.


IV. Process Upon Receipt of Reasonable Accommodation Requests from Employees


A. Requesting Reasonable Accommodation

At any time that a need arises, the Board employee (or designee) may make an accommodation request to a supervisor or manager in the employee’s chain of command or any other individual designated to receive such requests.[vi] No particular form or format is required, and the request may be made verbally or in writing. Because there is no form or format for a reasonable accommodation request, supervisors will receive guidance on how to recognize requests in the absence of specificity. If the accommodation requirement is repeated in nature (for instance, a sign language interpreter, CART services or readers), once approved, the individual need only notify his/her chain of command or other person designated (if any) of the need and no new application is necessary. A supervisor may initiate a discussion with the employee about a reasonable accommodation which may be necessary if the supervisor reasonably believes a discussion is necessary to allow the employee to continue working with an accommodation.

B. Processes Post-Request for Accommodation: Interactive Process

Upon receipt of the request for reasonable accommodation or the identification of a need, the relevant supervisor/manager will request further information (as needed) from the staff member to determine how the Board may proceed to accommodate the request. When further written support from a health care provider is needed to support the request, the employee will be notified in writing to provide it, how long the employee has to provide the information, and that the information will be kept confidential once received. When all the facts and circumstances known to the agency make it is reasonably likely that the individual will be entitled to an accommodation, but the accommodation cannot be provided immediately, the agency will provide the individual with an interim accommodation that allows the individual to perform some or all of the essential functions of the job, absent undue hardship.

The Board will confidentially maintain a record of the request of the employee for additional information, including any additional medical information provided supporting the request.

An agency is entitled to information supporting the fact that an individual has a covered disability requiring reasonable accommodation. Therefore, the Board may ask for information about the disability itself, the major life activities it limits, and the nexus between the accommodation and the disability only if the disability and/or need for accommodation is not obvious, or if medical information already submitted by the staff person is insufficient for the Board supervisor to make a proper determination. The Board will not otherwise ask for non-relevant medical information based on a person’s request for a reasonable accommodation. Information related to the disability and the accommodation is necessary to engage in the approval process.


V. Providing Reasonable Accommodation


A. Post-Request: Satisfying the Request for Reasonable Accommodation

  1. Upon receipt of all information required to fully process the request (specified as to the accommodation needed and relevant supportive documentation), and within ten (10) days of receipt of fully acceptable documentation, designated the Board supervisory personnel (Research Director or Staff Director) will take the necessary steps to provide the employee the response, including granting the requested accommodation, unless the documentation provided does not sufficiently support the requested accommodation. However, if an accommodation can be provided in less than the maximum time frame, failure to provide an accommodation in a prompt manner may result in a violation of the Rehabilitation Act. Once received, the Board will review the documents submitted in support of the request and the request itself in order to make a reasoned decision.
  2. When all the facts and circumstances known to the agency make it is reasonably likely that the individual will be entitled to an accommodation, but the accommodation cannot be provided immediately, the agency will provide the individual with an interim accommodation that allows the individual to perform some or all of the essential functions of the job, absent undue
  3. Further dialogue may ensue called the “interactive process” to obtain further information or clarity from the employee or his/her designee in order for the Agency to process the request for accommodation. The interactive process is a back-and-forth dialogue with the employee and/or his representatives to assure all parties that all relevant information is gathered and analyzed towards the goal of a timely decision on accommodation. Once further documentation is requested from a health professional, the Board will not be expected to adhere to its usual timelines if an individual’s health professional fails to provide needed documentation in a timely manner. The Board may toll the timeframes once it has requested medical documentation. However, the processing timeframe resumes as soon as medical documentation is The deciding supervisor will keep the employee frequently updated as to the status of the request and the Agency’s decision-making process should the full time period be required for decision, as well as respond to any further questions that may arise after review of further medical information.
  4. A decision to grant or deny a request will come from the supervisor, who may be the Research Director or the Staff Director (who at this time are the only supervisors in the Agency).[vii] If a decision is made to deny a request by the Research Director in his/her capacity as supervisor, the employee may seek review from the Staff Director who will make the final decision to grant or deny the request.[viii] In the absence of the Staff Director from the workplace for any length of time (including a vacancy in the position), the final decision will be made by whomever is designated as acting for the Director, in most cases the Research At this time, there are no other officials authorized to grant or deny accommodations besides the Staff Director or Research Director.[ix]
  5. Should it be determined by the Board management that it is unable to satisfy the reasonable request (either partially or in its entirety), the Board will notify the employee in writing within ten (10) days of receipt of completed documentation so that further discussion and open dialogue in the form of an “interactive process” may The employee or his designee may be asked for further and more specific information at that time so that management may review the information and supplemental information again to determine if the new information satisfies the deficiencies noted in the previous request/submission. Employees or their designees will be notified in writing and within three (3) days of receipt of supplemental information whether the information submitted is sufficient for a decision to be made. Management will continue to keep the requester informed periodically thereafter until a final decision is made.
  6. Upon complete satisfaction of the request (defined as notification of approval and provision of the requested accommodation), the Board management will document the provision and maintain the records confidentially in a SharePoint site that is accessible only to select senior
  7. If the accommodation cannot be provided totally or partially to the employee’s satisfaction because the information is still insufficient to support the requested accommodation or upon a finding of undue burden on the agency, upon partial or total denial of the request in writing, the employee will be notified contemporaneously of his/her right to file an informal EEO complaint pursuant to the Agency’s policies within 45 days of the denial of the accommodation, in whole or in part. This informal complaint, if made, should be made to the federal Agency designated to process EEO claims for the Board, currently the General Services Administration (GSA).[x]
  8. If the Research Director as the supervisor has made the decision to deny the request the employee will be advised, in writing, of his/her right to appeal to the Staff Director for review and a final decision within ten (10) days of receipt of the denial. The employee will also be advised that this internal appeal is not in lieu of the right to file an informal EEO complaint and does not toll the applicable deadlines set by the EEOC for such claims.
  9. After providing agreed upon accommodation, the Board management will communicate to the accommodation recipient the importance of keeping management apprised should the accommodation needs later change, including the need for additional or different accommodations should the employee’s health situation change.


VI. Specific Timing in Addressing Reasonable Accommodation Requests


A. Delays in Addressing or Satisfying the Request for Reasonable Accommodation

  1. The Board policy is to promptly process to decision (approve or deny) all accommodations requests in writing within ten (10) days of receipt of a written or verbal request for accommodation. Should there be an unanticipated event or factor which delays review of the reasonable accommodation request which the Agency could not have anticipated or avoided that will avoid either the consideration or provision of reasonable accommodation in a reasonable period of time, the Board will notify the individual of the reason for the delay in writing and consider temporary measures that can be taken to assist the person with a disability until a decision on provision of the requested accommodation can be made.
  2. The Board will provide a job applicant or employee who is denied a reasonable accommodation with a written notice at the time of denial as to the reasons for the denial. This written notice will explain the reasons for the denial and notify the job applicant or employee of any available internal appeal to the Staff Director if the Research Director made the initial decision. Any denial of a request for reasonable accommodation will include information about the individual’s right to file an informal EEO complaint with the Agency processing the Board EEO complaints via an Interagency Agreement (currently GSA) and to invoke other statutory processes, as appropriate.
  3. As noted above, the Board may request further documentation during the interactive If the Board requires additional medical documentation to support the employee’s initial requests during the interactive process, the Board management will, within seven (7) days of receipt of the request, request in writing further supporting documentation from the employee or designee. Upon receipt of the further supporting documentation, the Board will make a final determination within ten (10) days after receipt of all relevant materials.


VII. Supervisor Education and Compliance with EEO Rules and Regulations


  1. Currently due to its size, there are only two official supervisors at This organizational structure may not change for the foreseeable future. Along with the staff, both supervisors receive training from the General Counsel and others outside the Board on EEO principles. Supervisors are also encouraged to contact the General Counsel upon an accommodation request by a staff member to assure that all information is properly and timely requested of the employee if needed and that decisions are made promptly and within the ten-day period provided by the Board policy. Supervisors are trained to recognize requests for accommodation, especially because no form or specific language is dictated by this policy for an employee to use to request an accommodation.
  2. In addition to training and guidance, the Board supervisory and managerial employees are aware of the resource materials available on EEOC’s public website, including EEOC Enforcement Guidance: Disability-Related Inquiries and Medical Examinations of Employees Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (July 27, 2000), and EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (revised October 17, 2002).
  3. The Board officials who decide requests for accommodation or make hiring decisions are aware that to deny an accommodation based on cost, they must consider all resources available to the agency as a whole, excluding those designated by statute for a specific purpose that does not include reasonable accommodation.[xi]
  4. Agency officials who grant or deny requests for accommodation or who make hiring decisions are knowledgeable as to how to arrange for the use of agency resources to provide the approved accommodation and are well-versed in how to obtain accommodations or funding for such accommodations as they are involved in federal budget decisions for the Board.


VIII. Requesting and Securing Medical Information

A. Requesting Confidential Medical Information

  1. Medical information may be required of the applicant in support of a reasonable accommodation request. The Board may require an individual who requests a reasonable accommodation to provide medical information that is sufficient to explain the nature of the individual’s disability, his or her need for reasonable accommodation, and how the requested accommodation, if any, will assist the individual to apply for a job, perform the essential functions of a job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of the workplace. The agency has the right to request relevant supplemental medical information if the first submission was insufficient. The Board has the right to have medical information reviewed by a medical expert of the agency’s choosing at the agency’s expense.
  2. The Board has the right to request relevant supplemental medical information if the first submission was insufficient. The term “insufficient” applies to the agencies’ right to require documentation that is sufficient to explain the nature of the individual’s disability, his/her need for accommodation, and how the requested accommodation will assist the individual in applying for the job, performing the essential functions of the job, or enjoying the benefits and privileges of the job.

B. Maintaining Confidentiality

  1. The Board has an obligation to keep medical information confidential, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. The agency keeps medical information separate from the individual’s personnel files.[xii]
  2. There are limited circumstances under which the agency may disclose confidential medical information to limited personnel. These circumstances include (1) Supervisors and managers who need to know may be told about necessary restrictions and about the necessary accommodation; (2) First aid and safety personnel if the disability might require emergency treatment; (3) Government officials to investigate the agency’s compliance with the Rehabilitation Act; (4) Workers’ compensation offices or insurance carriers; and (5) Agency EEO officials may be given the information to maintain records.[xiii]


IX. Process when a Request for Reasonable Accommodation is Denied


A. If a Request for Reasonable Accommodation is Denied

  1. If after engaging in the interactive process with the employee, the Board denies a request for reasonable accommodation, the supervisor or Staff Director will inform the individual in writing of the denial and the specific reasons for the denial and how to correct any deficiency if there continues to be insufficient supporting documentation or will explain the undue burden on the Agency. Consistent with federal law and regulation, the Board management will also notify the individual that s/he has a right to file an informal EEO complaint within 45 days of the denial. Because the Board does not have an EEO office due to its size (13 employees), the affected employee will be directed to file an informal EEO complaint with the Agency with which the Board has an Agreement to process EEO claims and to engage in any informal dispute resolution procedures that Agency makes available for this purpose. As noted, that Agency is currently GSA. These processes are documented in the Employee Handbook and employees are notified of the EEO Inter-Agency Agreements each fiscal year. Applicants will be informed individually should they seek to file such a claim. Steps taken in this process will be recorded and maintained confidentially.

B. Challenging a Denial of Reasonable Accommodation

  1. Executive Order 13164 encourages agencies to use voluntary, informal dispute resolution processes to resolve disagreements resulting from the reasonable accommodation process. These informal processes must be in addition to — and may not modify or replace — the EEO complaint process. Because of these requirements, the Board management encourages and will facilitate the opportunity to allow for a prompt informal dispute resolution process to resolve disagreements regarding the reasonable accommodations process. This process does not replace the EEO complaint process and the employee will be notified of the right to file such complaint even while attempting to resolve the matter informally. This process does not toll the employee’s obligation to file the informal complaint within 45 days of the date of receipt of the denial or partial denial.
  2. The Employee May File an Informal EEO Complaint Challenging the Agency’s Denial or Partial Denial Pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act. Should the the Board wholly or in part deny an individual’s request for a reasonable accommodation and the individual views the denial as violation of his/her rights under the Rehabilitation Act, the individual may file an informal disability discrimination EEO complaint through the processes set forth in EEOC regulations at 29 F.R. Part 1614 and as set forth in the Board EEO complaint processing policy contained in the Employee Manual Handbook. The individual will be informed of this right in writing by the Board management, and will be informed that the employee must initiate the EEO complaint process within 45 days of the date of the challenged action, whether or not s/he is engaged in an informal dispute resolution process at the same time.
  3. Due to its small size (under a dozen employees), the Board does not maintain an EEO office nor employ a part time or full time EEO counselor. It therefore enters into Inter-Agency Agreements on a fiscal year basis to provide a full service EEO office for its employees’ use. Employees are notified annually of the Agency providing these services to the Board employees and the information is updated in the Employee Handbook as necessary to remain current.


C. Emergent Accommodations


  1. The Board will provide for expedited processing of requests for reasonable accommodations that are needed sooner than the maximum time frame. Expedited processing for reasonable accommodation requests may be required if the accommodation is needed, for example: (1) to enable an individual with a disability to apply for a job; or, (2) the accommodation is needed for a specific agency activity that is scheduled to occur shortly. The Board’s emergent procedures cover all types of reasonable accommodations in addition to COVID accommodations provided herein.
  2. The Board employees and applicants are entitled to accommodations on account of all emergent conditions including COVID 19-related long-term effects (long haul COVID) pursuant to EEOC the Board will follow all EEOC guidance as it evolves during the COVID pandemic. Should an employee need accommodation due to the COVID 19 virus or long term COVID 19 effects, the Board will expeditiously process the request under its policies and procedures set forth in this document. The Board will keep all documents related to the accommodations request confidential pursuant to this policy.
  3. The Board will keep the identity of all employees confidential should any employee report COVID symptoms or a diagnosis of COVID. The Board will notify employees who may have been in contact with the employee with COVID that there has been an exposure but will not disclose the identity of the employee with COVID.
  4. The Board will not discriminate against employees or applicants for employment due to a diagnosis of COVID or having long-term COVID effects. The Board may, depending on the state of the law at the time, ask employees and applicants for employment (only if offered a position) whether they have been vaccinated pursuant to Executive Orders on the vaccination status of federal employees but will keep all information disclosed confidential. If a personnel action become necessary for unvaccinated employees who refuse vaccination, the information regarding the vaccination status may be disclosed to persons needed to engage in the personnel action due process, including the supervisor, Staff Director and/or General SSA HR which processes the Board personnel actions will necessarily be informed should an action be taken.[xiv]


X. Reassignment as an Accommodation


  1. Reassignment may be a proper Reassignment to a vacant funded position for which an employee is qualified, and not just permission to compete for such position, is a reasonable accommodation; and the Board will consider providing reassignment to a vacant position as a reasonable accommodation when it determines that no other reasonable accommodation will permit an employee with a disability to perform the essential functions of his or her current position. Due to the size of the Board (currently 13 employees/2 supervisors), relevant agency management officials are well informed about available vacancies, if any, when considering reassignment as a reasonable accommodation. Agency senior management keeps an organizational chart with vacant positions updated periodically as funding levels change or personnel leave or are brought on to the Agency and as research priorities change.


XI. Information Tracking and Recordkeeping


  1. The Board keeps records that it may use to determine whether it is complying with the nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements imposed under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act and will make such records available to the Commission upon the Commission’s request. Below are the Board procedures regarding how it will inform applicants and employees how they may track the processing of requests for reasonable accommodation.
  2. Applicants and employees may track the processing of their request for an accommodation by requesting an update from the supervisor who has the request for decision. Given the size of the organization, there is no need for a software program or other automated system to meet the requirements of tracking and recordkeeping. The supervisor will be updating the employee or applicant frequently, but nothing in this policy prohibits an applicant or employee from independently inquiring of the decision-maker as to the status of the application.
  3. The Board does keep records (confidential) of the following: the specific reasonable accommodation requested; the job (occupational series, grade level, and agency component) sought by requesting applicant or held by the employee; whether the accommodation was needed to apply for a job, perform the essential functions of a job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment; whether the request was granted or denied; the identity of the deciding official; the basis of the denial; and the number of days taken to process the request. This information will be kept in a secure site on the Share Point site accessible only by the supervisors and the General Counsel and will be made available to EEOC upon its request or as otherwise required by law.




[i] Disability with respect to an individual is a physical or mental impairment substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual; has a record or such impairment; or being regarded as having such impairment.

[ii] Undue hardship means, with respect to the provision of an accommodation, significant difficulty or expense incurred by the Agency.

[iii] Specifically, the term “qualified” with respect to an individual with a disability means the individual satisfies the requisite skill, experience, education and other job-related requirements of the employment position such individual holds or desires and, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of such position.

[iv] The Board is a micro-Agency and hires infrequently. It therefore believes it can approve all accommodation requests by applicants for employment.

[v] If in the rare or unusual circumstance an applicant cannot be accommodated under this policy of accommodating all applicants for employment, the applicant will be so notified in writing with an explanation of the undue hardship asserted and will include the process for filing an informal EEO complaint within 45 days of the denial.

[vi] Currently, the Agency does not have a person so designated to receive requests other than supervisory personnel. The regulations also note that an employee’s request may go to an office designated to accept such requests. As a micro- Agency, the Board does not have capacity nor need for an EEO office or a designated Reasonable Accommodation position. The board is handling these requests within the Agency through the supervisory chain but uses GSA for its EEO processing via an Inter-Agency Agreement. The process for applicants is detailed, supra.

[vii] If other individual positions are hereafter appointed as supervisors, this policy will be amended accordingly.

[viii] As previously noted, the Board does not have a dedicated office for EEO claims or reasonable accommodation requests due to its tiny size. The Staff Director will make all final decisions for accommodations with respect to applicants for employment, but as noted as a matter of the Board policy, all applicants will be accommodated absent extremely unusual circumstances. The Staff Director is the final decision authority for employee related accommodation requests either as a supervisor of certain administrative staff or as the appeal authority from the Research Director’s adverse decision.

[ix] Currently, the Staff Director can be reached at and the Research Director at If these individual employees leave the Board, this policy will be updated with the new employee’s contact information as required by EEOC regulation.

[x] Should the Board change the Agency with whom it has an Inter-Agency Agreement (IAA) to process its EEO claims, this policy will be amended to reflect that change.

[xi] The Board is a line item in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) budget. All funds allocated to the Board may be used for any lawful purpose, including to provide accommodations for employees and applicants approved for such.

[xii] Currently, SSA keeps the electronic personnel records of the Board staff and the Board senior management does not keep such records.

[xiii] As noted, the Board does not have an EEO office and will not share this information with the Agency designated through Inter-Agency Agreement to serve as the the Board EEO office, unless an EEO complaint is filed and the information is requested during that process.

[xiv] Currently there are no COVID vaccine requirements being imposed by the federal government.