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NOAA Workforce Management Office

Serving NOAA's Most Valuable Asset - People


Assisting Your Health Care Provider in
Preparing Your Medical Documentation


  1. If you have a "hidden" disability (a disability that is not obvious), you need to provide medical documentation in support of your request. If you have medical documentation on file with NOAA, please tell the Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator (RAC). A few examples of hidden disabilities are migraine headaches, learning disabilities, and psychiatric conditions. Most disabilities are hidden.
  2. Medical documentation must be written by your health care provider. A health care provider is a person who is licensed in the state in which they practice, to provide the care that they provide.
  3. Medical documentation should be on the letterhead of your health care provider and personally signed by your health care provider (no stamps; no nurse or receptionist signatures; however, original signature NOT required).
  4. Medical documentation needs to address each of the following three elements:
    • Element A:   Describe the impairment; the nature, severity, and duration of the impairment.
    • Element B:   Describe the activity or activities that the impairment limits and the extent to which the impairment limits the employee's ability to perform the activity or activities.
    • Element C:   Describe the accommodation(s) needed; and whether the use of a mitigating measure eliminates the need for a reasonable accommodation.

Below is an example of acceptable medical documentation for an employee, Suzie Smith, who has migraine headaches. This employee is requesting flexible hours, a change in lighting, and permission to visit the NOAA Health Center during work hours.

To NOAA Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator:

Suzie Smith has been my patient for the past two years. She suffers from severe migraine headaches which are chronic in nature. When Suzie is having a migraine headache, she becomes nauseated, she is unable to tolerate sound and light, and she suffers from intense pain. (Addresses Element A). As a result of these symptoms, Suzie is unable to work when she is having an attack. She must lie quietly in a darkened room and take medication which puts her to sleep. (Addresses Element B).

Suzie's headaches are caused, in part, by fluorescent lighting. Eliminating the fluorescent lighting over her workspace will reduce the frequency of her attacks. Additionally, Suzie will benefit from a flexible work schedule which will permit her to leave work when she notices the onset of symptoms. It is important that she get home before her symptoms become too severe. Suzie may on occasion ward off an attack if she can lie down in a quiet, darkened room for a few hours when she first notices symptoms. Suzie knows when she needs to go home, or when a rest period may eliminate symptoms. There is no mitigating measure which eliminates this need. (Addresses Element C).

Signed,

Doctor Jones

Medical documentation is confidential. The RAC will discuss with your supervisor, and perhaps others in your supervisory chain, the symptoms you are experiencing that result in your need for accommodation. The RAC will only discuss your medical documentation with those who have a "need to know". The RAC will not discuss your medical documentation with persons in your supervisory chain. Normally, there is no need for the RAC to discuss your medical documentation with anyone. Medical documentation is kept in a locked file, separate from your Official Personnel File.

Medical Documentation is covered by the Privacy Act. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits employers and other entities covered by GINA Title II from requesting or requiring genetic information of an individual or family member of the individual except as specifically allowed by this law. To comply with this law, we ask that you not provide any genetic information when submitting medical information.

Questions? Please contact Debbie Ferrara, NOAA's Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator, at (816) 426-7822, or at Debbie.A.Ferrara@noaa.gov.

Back to: Reasonable Accommodation Program

Page last edited: May 08, 2013

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