In addition to the traditional hiring process, individuals with eligible disabilities may apply for a job in the federal government through the Schedule A hiring authority.
What is Schedule A?
The Schedule A hiring authority for people with disabilities (Schedule A) is an exception to the traditional hiring process.
Schedule A is a noncompetitive hiring authority that allows federal agencies to forgo the typical application process and hire individuals with disabilities directly into the workforce. People hired under the Schedule A hiring authority receive an excepted service appointment to a position that is otherwise in the competitive service. For more information on excepted service appointments, visit the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) website. A Schedule A appointment has the potential to be converted to a career conditional appointment.
Who is eligible for Schedule A?
According to federal law, individuals may apply using the Schedule A hiring authority if they have “an intellectual disability, a severe physical disability, or a psychiatric disability (with or without the need of reasonable accommodations).” While there is no rubric to determine which disabilities meet this requirement, it is required for candidates to provide proof of disability documentation from a doctor; a licensed medical professional; a licensed rehabilitation professional; or any federal, state, District of Columbia, or U.S. territory agency that issues or provides disability benefits. It is the certifying individual’s responsibility to carefully consider and determine if the applicant’s disability constitutes a severe physical disability, intellectual disability, or psychiatric disability. Be aware that fraudulently claiming to have an eligible disability or forging proof of disability documents for Schedule A hiring purposes is against the law.
All targeted disabilities are eligible for noncompetitive appointments under the Schedule A hiring authority. Targeted disabilities are those that are listed in part 1 of the Standard Form 256, which is the form used by federal employees to self-identify a disability. (This form is intended for your reference and not required as part of the hiring process.)
Why should you use Schedule A?
Using Schedule A, a hiring manager can directly hire an individual who meets the qualifications of a position. Schedule A is an effective hiring tool for both applicants and hiring managers. It streamlines the hiring process by giving hiring managers access to a highly skilled, prescreened, and available candidate pool while reducing the amount of time to fill vacancies.
1. Find a job opening
Identify the type of position for which you would like to apply and determine if there is an open position within the USPTO. This can be done by looking for USPTO openings on the USAJOBS website, which is the federal government's official site for job postings and information. Many of our vacancies are advertised there. Follow us on Twitter @USPTOjobs to see USPTO position openings. You can also contact our USPTO SPPC at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information about employment opportunities.
2. Prepare your application
To apply for a federal job, you need a resume that accurately describes your abilities and qualifications that relate to the position.
You may create a resume directly on the USAJOBS website using the "resume builder" feature. This may be useful if you are seeking your first job or are reentering the workforce. Alternatively, you can upload an existing resume onto USAJOBS or contact the SPPC for that agency and submit your documentation and application materials per their instructions.
Your resume is an opportunity to reflect why you would be a great fit for the particular position. Applicants are encouraged to tailor their resumes to demonstrate how their skills specifically match the job qualifications of the position.
In addition to your resume, you may need to prepare other documents to validate your qualifications for the vacancy.
If you are applying to a posted vacancy, the job announcement will tell you what materials to include in your application package (such as a writing sample, cover letter, transcripts from high school or college, or a professional certification or license).
For some positions, you may need to complete an occupational questionnaire. This helps the agency determine whether an applicant has the requisite skills and experience for the position.
Obtain disability documentation
To apply using Schedule A, you must submit documentation to verify you have a severe physical disability, an intellectual disability, or psychiatric disability. This is often referred to as Proof of Disability Documentation or “Schedule A letter.” It must specify that you are eligible to apply using Schedule A. It does NOT need to detail your specific disability, medical history or need for accommodation. Have this documentation ready before you apply under Schedule A.
You can request this documentation from:
- Your doctor
- A licensed medical professional
- A licensed rehabilitation professional
- Any federal, state, District of Columbia, or U.S. territory agency that issues or provides disability benefits
There are two ways to apply for federal jobs at the USPTO as a Schedule A applicant.
Option 1: Apply through USAJOBS
We advise applying for a position through the regular vacancy announcement on USAJOBS and then follow-up with the USPTO Special Placement Program Coordinator (SPPC). You may apply to a USPTO position using Schedule A through the USAJOBS website. Every job posting will only accept applications for a specific amount of time. It is important that you apply before the expiration of the announcement and contact either the vacancy point of contact or the USPTO SPPC immediately.
Option 2: Apply directly using the Schedule A process
Contact our SPPC at email@example.com and ask for the best way to apply for a specific vacancy using the Schedule A hiring process for persons with disabilities. The SPPC will work with you to make sure your resume or application is considered under Schedule A.
When you apply online, make sure that you follow the application instructions in the job posting and upload your Schedule A proof of disability documentation in the appropriate location.
There are several regulations that are generically referred to as "Schedule A." These regulations cover more than just persons with disabilities. When contacting a federal HR professional concerning possible employment opportunities, explain that you are referring to Schedule A for persons with disabilities. The regulations concerning Schedule A can be seen at 5 C.F.R. 213.3102(u) and 5 C.F.R 315.709, the federal regulations that govern federal hiring.
Discuss your experience and the types of positions you are seeking with the SPPC. There may be additional vacancies for which you may qualify.
After you submit your application
Generally, you will be contacted about the status of your application. If, after a reasonable period of time, you haven't heard from the agency about your application, you should follow-up with the SPPC or the HR Specialist listed on the job vacancy.
If the agency is interested in you as a candidate for the open position(s), someone from the agency will contact you to set up an interview. If you require a reasonable accommodation for a job interview at the USPTO, you may request one for free using our Accommodation Point.
If you are selected for a position, you will be offered the position after you accept an offer of employment. If you believe you will need an accommodation to perform the job duties, ask at that time. Give us plenty of time to get your accommodations in place to ensure that you will have what you need on your first day.
For more information regarding Schedule A and an helpful frequently answered questions section, see the ABCs of Schedule A, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidebook concerning Schedule A.