In preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the issue of “accommodations” will necessarily surface, if only because the Agency must complete SF 3112D — the Form which is entitled, “Agency Certification of Reassignment and Accommodation Efforts” (which bureaucrat came up with that title?).
Agencies will often choose the wrong box to check because they will either misread the choices or misunderstand what the statements mean. For instance, in the third choice of Question 4, it states, “Yes, describe below the accommodation efforts made, attach supporting documentation and provide narrative analysis of any unsuccessful accommodation efforts.” The problem with the choice itself is that the entire concept of “accommodations” has been clarified, modified, and thoroughly discussed in cases which have been brought before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and such court opinions have been issued subsequent to the original meaning of the term when the Standard Form was first issued.
But when the Agency completes the form, they will often answer the question in terms of “allowing for liberal use of sick leave” or “letting the employee refrain from doing X, Y or Z”, etc. But allowing for temporary, light duty work does not constitute a “legal accommodation“, and thus does not go to the requested information. In fact, the loosely-used term of “accommodation” is actually no accommodation at all.
What to do about it when it happens? One must be discreet in how to approach it. For most cases, the agency’s lack of understanding will have no impact at all, and it should not be responded to. In other instances…
Robert R. McGill, Esquire