Does the Federal Government Consider Me Disabled?

Federal employee attorney Eric Pines tackles whether a federal employee will be considered disabled. In the series: Does the Federal Government Consider Me Disabled (Part I)? We laid out the definitions of disabled under the Rehabilitation Act. In this post we will focus on what those definitions mean in the real world.

Interestingly, the ADA was recently amended by what is called the ADAAA in 2009. This amendment has made the practical reality of what it takes to be considered disabled more liberal and inclusive.
Let’s break down the definition of who is considered disabled for a disability discrimination step by step:

Disability – Prior to Jan. 1, 2009, a substantial portion of disability discrimination litigation, if not the vast majority of such litigation, revolved around the determination of whether the complainant was a qualified individual with a disability. While the ADAAA does not eliminate entirely that litigation, it does seek to greatly reduce that litigation.

A physical impairment: This does not have to be as serious as cancer or a stroke. The official definition is below:

Physical: Any disorder or condition, disfigurement, or anatomical loss (missing limb, etc.) affecting one or more body systems, such as neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, immune, circulatory, hemic, lymphatic, skin, and endocrine; or

Any mental or psychological disorder: This is a very interesting area encompassing depression, anxiety disorders, and alcoholism — I intend to follow up in a later blog post. Many supervisors and managers do not take this type of disability seriously, especially if they themselves have not suffered from one or been close to anyone who has suffered from one of these disorders, and this is the source of a lot of litigation.

An intellectual disability (formerly termed “mental retardation”), organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. 29 CFR Section 1630.2(h).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Federal Employee Attorney Eric Pines
The Law Offices of Eric L. Pines, PLLC provides comprehensive legal representation with a sole focus on Federal Employees, Federal Labor Unions and Federal Agencies.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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