Recruiting and hiring of the disabled for federal jobs has exploded since 2010 when Executive Order 13548 was signed by the President. In 2010 seven percent of the federal workforce, not including veterans that are 30% disabled, were classified as disabled, today 11.89% or 219,578 workers are disabled and in 2012 sixteen percent of all new hires were disabled. The Book of U.S. Government Jobs, which covers disabled hiring, is now in its 11th edition and for most of those editions disabled hiring, year after year, hovered around 7%. This is a dramatic and welcomed improvement offering more opportunities across the board for this group.
OPM recently reported that people with disabilities were hired at a higher percentage than at any point in the past 32 years according to OPM’s report titled “Employing People with Disabilities in the Federal Executive Branch”.
On July 26, 2010, President Barack Obama issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13548 on Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities, to mark the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The goal was to hire an additional 100,000 people with disabilities into federal service over 5 years. They are well on their way to achieve their objective.
There are many federal job opportunities today for people with disabilities. The majority of the disabled are employed at the 7, 11, 12 and 13 GS pay grades. However, the disabled are hired across the board in all pay grades up to and including the Senior Executive Service (SES). In 2012 most of the disabled hiring was in the GS-5, 7, 11 and 12 pay grades. The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are the largest employers of disabled workers.
Many federal agencies work with State vocational rehabilitation agencies (SVRAs), the Veterans Administration, universities and other organizations to identify qualified people with disabilities. Federal employers often attend job fairs and visit college campuses for outreach initiatives to find qualified people with disabilities including disabled veterans in all occupations. Recruitment is through the competitive hiring process or through excepted service appointments if certain qualifications are met.
Applicants locate job announcements and apply direct to the hiring agency for the majority of positions. About 20% of federal job applicants must pass a civil service exam although the vast majority are rated on their work history and education. Temporary or term appointments are also possible depending on the position. Temporary appointments generally do not exceed one year with possibly a one year extension if the project you are working on requires additional work. Term appointments are a little different and can be filled for up to four years.
Schedule A and B appointments are reserved for the disabled and are filled for a two year period. If the employee successfully completes a two year program they can be converted to a permanent competitive position. These appointments are reserved for those with severe physical or mental disabilities. Candidates are given an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to perform the duties of the position or they have been certified by a State vocational rehabilitation agency (SVRA) counselor or the Department of Veterans Affair’s Vocational Rehabilitation Office to likely perform specified duties successfully.
If you are disabled explore your options and review the many programs that Uncle Sam offers. Review existing outreach programs, apply for all job vacancies that you quality for and don’t give up with your first rejection. Also, contact a Selective Placement Program Coordinator that agencies have available to help you through the process. It takes time and patience to apply for any federal job. You have to complete a comprehensive federal resume and follow all of the guidance that is available in the job announcement.