IRS Takes Months to Accommodate Disabled Employees

IRS Takes Months to Accommodate Disabled Employees

The Internal Revenue Service took an average of 70 days to accommodate requests by disabled employees for adaptive technology, according to a new report, even though it’s only supposed to take 15 days unless there are extenuating circumstances.

The report, from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, noted that federal agencies, including the IRS, are required by Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities who need them. 

The Treasury Department and the IRS have established clear time limits for providing reasonable accommodations for disabled employees—15 business days for IRS employees and 20 business days for Treasury employees—unless extenuating circumstances exist. According to both Treasury and IRS policy, when a request has extenuating circumstances, the time for processing the request and providing the accommodation will be extended as necessary. However, such extensions should be rare.

TIGTA found, though, that the IRS designated 97 percent of all reasonable accommodation requests involving adaptive technology with the issue code 836, Special Equipment & Assistive Device – IRAP, as having at least one extenuating circumstance, making them exempt from a time limit. Thus, it took an average of 70 business days in fiscal years 2013 and 2014 to close requests for adaptive technology made by employees with disabilities.

In fiscal years 2013 and 2014, approximately 86 percent of the 836 Requests were due to disabilities related to non-paralytic orthopedic impairments, vision, and hearing. Fifty percent of the requests were for IRS employees with non paralytic orthopedic impairments, such as back pain, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or tendonitis. Another quarter of the requests (26 percent) were related to employees’ vision, such as blindness or vision loss. Hearing-related disabilities, such as deafness and hard of hearing, comprised 10 percent of the requests. Requests included special equipment for computers and ergonomic devices. Read more on Accounting Today