Utilizing all available tools as I seek employment with a disability

How I could benefit from the government's Schedule A Hiring Authority

Charlton Harris avatar

by Charlton Harris |

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One of my wife’s friends recently invited us to a party. It happened to be our anniversary weekend and we didn’t have any plans, so we decided to make it a date. It was a great opportunity to hang out with some nice folks.

After arriving, I overheard a few guests having a conversation about how one of them had recently retired from the federal government. As the group continued discussing work, I mentioned that I had health issues and was interested in working part time or remotely. I explained that I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis about 20 years ago and have experienced two spontaneous pneumothoracies since 2017. I was a little hesitant to share that information, but it was a small group and I wanted everyone to know I still have skin in the game. This condition doesn’t define me.

As we continued to talk, someone mentioned that they knew a disabled young man who had a government job. Although the man has mobility issues, he’s able to fill the job requirements, and his disability was taken into consideration during the hiring process. The person then shared something I never knew.

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How I’ve continued to pursue my dreams despite sarcoidosis

Information is power

They mentioned that the man was hired under the federal government’s Schedule A Hiring Authority. I felt like the only person in the free world who didn’t know what that was.

According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, “Schedule A is a special appointing authority that agencies can use to noncompetitively appoint individuals, including eligible veterans, who have a severe physical, psychiatric, or intellectual disability.” Disabled applicants need a letter from their doctor or a government agency that provides medical benefits to prove eligibility for the appointment.

Armed with this new information, a few days after the party I spoke with my pulmonologist and cardiologist. Neither had heard of Schedule A. My guess is that they’d never had a patient who wanted to go back to work and chose the path of government. It seems I’m the exception; I refuse to do nothing when I have so much more to contribute.

I told my doctors I’d send them a sample of what the letter should include.

What a difference a day can make

Coincidentally, at the time of my diagnosis, I was working for the Transportation Security Administration. During my employment, I was able to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for bouts of tendonitis and gout. It’s possible that the FMLA could also help someone with sarcoidosis.

I left the agency in 2013, but I may start looking at federal employment again — part-time or remote work, of course. The conversation at the party reminded me of all the helpful government programs and resources created for people like me with disabilities.

Despite living with sarcoidosis, I’m optimistic about demonstrating my competencies. And this time, I’ll be equipped with my Schedule A letter.

Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.


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