One of my recent posts sparked some comments about the requirements concerning seeking verification of reasonable accommodation or reasonable modification requests. Remember that a resident (or applicant) must make an accommodation/modification request. Management cannot initiate such a request on our own. That being said, a request can come from the resident or applicant (or from someone acting on behalf of the resident or applicant). While I prefer to receive the request in writing, there is no such requirement in the law and the request can be oral or by any other effective method. I similarly recommend that management always respond in writing to any accommodation or modification request that is received and keep a copy of our response in the files. So, when is a verification necessary? Is a verification always needed? What can management seek to obtain?
Here is some general guidance concerning verifications that might be helpful as well as an non-exclusive list as to just where a verification can come from:
- If an obviously blind resident who uses a cane makes a request for a service animal, it is likely no further verification is needed as the disability and nexus are obvious;
- To phrase it another way, management may request documentation of the need for an accommodation/modification only to the extent necessary to verify the disability and if the accommodation/modification has a nexus (or is related to) the claimed disability;
- Management should not seek to acquire confidential medical records or ask about the nature or severity of a resident’s disability;
- The verification of a disability and the need for an accommodation/modification can be from a doctor, medical provider, licensed health provider, nurse practitioner, social service agency, disability agency, mental health facility or another provider that can verify the disability and nexus to the request for an accommodation/modification.
The reasonable accommodation/modification matrix is a fact intensive inquiry that we go through one at a time. Reviewing and responding to each request can help you avoid the need to speak with a lawyer like me.
Just A Thought.