As a federal employee, understanding your rights can feel overwhelming, especially when it comes to determining whether or not your medical condition qualifies as a disability under the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, it’s important to know that having a qualifying medical condition can entitle you to legal protections and reasonable accommodations. But how do you know if you have a qualifying medical condition?
The law defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. This includes a wide range of conditions, from physical disorders like neurological and musculoskeletal disorders to mental illnesses and specific learning disabilities. Conditions generally “impair” you.
While most medical conditions can be considered impairments, not all of them qualify as disabilities under the law. To determine if your condition substantially limits major life activities, the assessment can be either predictable or individualized. Predictable assessments include conditions like blindness, deafness, blindness, intellectual disabilities, mobility impairments requiring the use of a wheelchair, autism, cancer, cerebral palsy, diabetes, epilepsy, HIV infection, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and other impairments that will almost always result in a determination of disability–the assesment is pretty much just naming it, and predicabilty, it will be found to be covered.
If the condition is not on the list, do not worry. For other types of impairments, an individualized assessment is necessary, taking into account the specific nature and severity of the impairment, its duration, and its expected long-term impact.
If you believe you might have a qualifying disability, it’s important to seek legal guidance from federal employment attorneys for federal employees. You may be entitled to legal protections, reasonable accommodations, and even monetary damages and attorneys’ fees if your employer has denied you reasonable accommodations.