Q & A Session – Pay Retention and Disability


Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.


I have worked for a federal agency for about 14 years and am currently a GS-7. My performance has declined due to medical issues. I was just diagnosed with a disability which has become worse due to physical and emotional stressors.

Management wants me to sign a form saying that I request a move for personal reasons to the mail room at a GS-4-10. If I don’t sign it, they will place me at a GS-4-1, which is about half my current pay.

Can they move me to a lower pay since I now have a disability? If they did, could I retain pay? Would this mean I would be eligible to apply for early disability retirement since I was not placed at the same rate and pay?


If you are demoted, you can apply for disability retirement. You may also be entitled to a reasonable accommodation because of your disability. You should use your agency’s reasonable accommodation process. If the accommodation is denied, you can pursue an EEO complaint.

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

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About Author

Debra Roth

Debra L. Roth is a partner at the law firm Shaw Bransford & Roth, a federal employment law firm in Washington, D.C. She is general counsel to the Senior Executives Association and the Federal Managers Association, host of the “FEDtalk” program on Federal News Radio, and a regular contributor to Federal News Radio’s “Federal Drive” morning show. Email your legal questions to lawyer@federaltimes.com.


  1. I’m no expert, but I know a little bit about the fed system. I don’t think they have to pay you while giving someone else your work. If you aren’t able to do the work with or without a reasonable accommodation, then they don’t have to keep you in the position. The big thing is that if you could perform the major duties with a reasonable accommodation, they have to provide a reasonable accommodation. But you ask if they “can.” Sure, I guess they can. They probably don’t HAVE to though.

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