How to Respond if Your Disability Accommodation is Denied

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Art: Robin Mead

Your request for accommodation should be in writing and (ideally) include a letter or form from your doctor, counselor, caseworker or other professional. Some requests require some additional attachments or documents: How to Request Disability Accommodations

If you’ve made a disability accommodation request, and been turned down, don’t give up hope. Many of our readers got told “no” at first, but went on to get approved. Here’s a few things you can try:


NOT REALLY DENIED!

Sometimes you don’t really get denied. You just get kind of brushed off, or no one responds, or they say “that’s not possible” or “we can’t do that.” Most housing workers aren’t properly trained in these rules and they may have no idea that what are asking for is possible.

Even though it may feel like you’ve been denied, you haven’t been! In fact, it might be pretty easy to magically turn the “no” into a “yes.”

If Someone Tells You No Verbally

Feel free to ignore this. Never ever ever (ever ever) let someone turn you down in verbally or over the phone. Submit your request and if anyone still tells you no, simply say: “I am requesting a written decision.” If that doesn’t work, you can write down your request: Sample Letter Requesting a Written Decision 

If Someone Says Your Request is Not Possible 

This usually means you have not yet submitted everything you need to get a fair decision. It helps to send a letter from you, letter from your provider, reasonable accommodation forms, and sometimes other things: Epic List of Accommodation Letters  

If You Still Can’t Get a Reason

If they submitted everything, and your worker is not responding or still saying “not possible” without a reason, here’s a Sample Letter If Your Request is Denied for No Reason

If They Want You To Use Their Form

Legally, they cannot force you to use their Reasonable Accommodation form. They must consider your request in any format. It is usually easiest to just use their form, but if you really don’t want to: If You Are Required To Use Their Forms

Try a Magic Sentence

Here’s a few more things you can try saying: 24 Magic Sentences That Can Change a “No” to a “Yes”


REALLY DENIED!

If you’ve gotten an actual letter from someone that uses the words “reasonable accommodation” and clearly states your reasonable accommodation request is denied, you have some options:

Appeal or Make a New Request

If your request was denied, you have the right to appeal. However, a lot of the time this is not necessary and will just make things take longer and be more stressful.

An easier way is to just figure out the problem and see if you can solve it. 90% of the time the problem is that your provider’s letter isn’t strong enough. You can always submit another follow up letter. You can also always make a new request with new letters. Worked for Mayflower! Mayflower’s Tale of Two Letters

Getting a New Letter

Your provider letter can come from a doctor, therapist, social worker, school psychologist, case worker, or medical professional. Tips and ideas for: How To Get a Good Letter from Your Provider


COMMON DENIAL REASONS

No “Relationship” or “Nexus” to Disability

If your denial letter says that your request is not related to your disability or there is no “nexus”, the simplest solution is to submit a new request or a follow-up letter. This time both you and your provider can use clearer language: How to Show Your Request Disability-Related

No Third Party Verifications

Your request should include a form or letter from your doctor, case worker, therapist or other provider.

Insufficient Third Party Verifications

If your verification letter wasn’t strong, you can always submit an additional one. Your verification letter should clearly state that you are a person with disabilities and explain how this request is related to your disabilities.

Ideally, your doctor will write that this accommodation is “required” or “needed” or “medically necessary” (not “recommended” or “beneficial” or “preferred.”)

Other Common Reasons for Denials

There are some other legal reasons for a denial. A few common ones are:

  • Costs more than they can afford
  • Small private landlord not covered under Fair Housing Act
  • Not in their power to do
  • Takes more time or staffing then they have
  • Outside Their Mission and Purpose
  • Breaks the Law / Breaks HUD Rules
  • Causes a Direct Threat to Other Tenants

Luckily there are also some solutions: Eight Legal Reasons a Disability Accommodation Can Be Denied


DENIALS FOR NO GOOD REASON

If your request was denied for some reason other than what is listed above, you may be able to turn things around.

Get Help

There are many different places you can contact to reach out for free legal assistance and disability rights assistance. You can also file a complaint if you feel the agency has not correctly followed policies: How to Get Help for Housing Problems

File a Complaint

You can also file complaints online: Online Fair Housing Complaint Form

Appeal 

You can also appeal the decision. Most housing programs have a process for appeals. It may be listed in your denial letter.

Find The Policies

You may find it helpful to find the policies and enclose these with your request. Don’t assume that your worker knows or has read them. Many of the federal policies are included here: Epic Master List of Disability Accommodation Letters for Housing

Housing programs also have their own local policies. If you’re wondering if your housing authority has a policy that relates to your request, you can find their policies in their “administrative plan.” It is often on their website, or you can request a copy.

Request an Accommodation for Your Accommodation!

If your request is denied because it goes against a rule or policy, you can submit an additional accommodation request for an exception to the policy!

If it is a local policy created by your Housing Authority, they have the authority to approve this request.

If it is a federal regulation created by HUD, it would require a much higher level of approval and may not be possible in some cases (we have not heard from anyone who has attempted this).

Here’s an example of: How to Request an Exception to HUD Live in Aide Policies

HUD Policy on Requesting Exceptions to Policies

From the HUD Housing Voucher Guidebook:

“A family may always request a reasonable accommodation to program rules, policies, practices, or services, including to the live-in aide policy, to permit program participation by individuals with disabilities.”

And “a reasonable accommodation request may only be denied if it would impose an undue financial and administrative burden on the housing provider or fundamentally alter the nature of the provider’s operations.”

Tips from Readers

🌷 Delphinium started by making a request through her local housing agency. When that didn’t work, she contacted the US Access Board and HUD Regional Office and got better results.

🌷 Here’s what Dandelion did when a Housing Manager said no to her request: “I told her that if she was denying my accommodation, I would like to please request to get that denial in writing, so I could appeal her decision. She quickly put me on the phone with a supervisor who had no problem granting the request. Next time I had a request, I just kept mentioning the supervisor’s name and how he granted my last request and I had no more problems.

🌷 Here’s how Ayanna did it: “I contacted: my local Housing Authority, the Executive Director at my Housing Authority, the lawyer at my Housing Authority, my regional HUD office, the HUD field office, and my Senator. At first, the Housing Authority extended my voucher for 60 more days. Then it turned into every month, for a total of ten months. They had to keep extending it because the HUD kept calling them for me. Always stay on top of it. Don’t give up.”

Learn More

All About Section 8: Section 8 Guide For the Disabled and Plucky

Facebook Group: HUD and Section 8 Disabled Residents & Family Members

Guide to Section 8 Disability Accommodations for Multiple Chemical Sensitivities


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