55-a Program | Human Resources

Dutchess County 55-a Program

Human Resources
Steven J. Rector, Commissioner

 

Dutchess County encourages employment of persons with disabilities as part of its ThinkDifferently Initiative. Dutchess County Human Resources is the civil service agency and primary recruiter for county departments.
 

One avenue for employment for persons with disabilities is through the 55-a Program.  
 

In a civil service environment, most positions are filled by choosing from among the top three candidates on an ‘eligible list’ created as a result of a competitive civil service examination.  Section 55-a of the New York State Civil Service Law allows for qualified persons with disabilities to gain civil service employment without having to participate in the competitive civil service examination.  A 55-a appointment is simply a non-competitive (no civil service examination) appointment to what would normally be a competitive (civil service examination) position.
 

The purpose of the 55-a Program is to help persons with disabilities overcome potential barriers and gain access to civil service employment opportunities.  A non-competitive class position may not have all of the same rights and protections as a competitive class position.

In Dutchess County, these non-competitive appointments can be made to some entry level titles as defined and designated by Dutchess County Human Resources.   Review a list of qualified entry level titles here.

Frequently Asked Questions about the 55-a Program
 

Who is eligible to apply for employment through the 55-a Program?

To be eligible to apply for employment through the 55-a Program you must: (a) be certified as having a physical or mental disability and (b) be qualified to perform the duties of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation.  Your skills, education and/or work experience must meet the minimum qualifications of the position.
 

Who decides if I’m eligible?

The New York State Office of the Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCESS-VR) certifies persons as physically or mentally disabled and makes determinations as to whether the individuals are qualified to satisfactorily perform the duties of the position sought.  The New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB) certifies persons who are blind and makes determinations as to whether the individuals are qualified to satisfactorily perform the duties of the position sought. 

If I am eligible and apply, am I guaranteed employment through the 55-a Program?

No.  There is no guarantee of receiving an interview or a position.  Appointments through the 55-a Program are discretionary for each agency. 

How do I apply for the 55-a Program?

  1. When you apply as a 55-a candidate, you are authorizing Dutchess County Human Resources to make contact with hiring administrators in an attempt to facilitate interviews and consideration.  If you wish to proceed with a 55-a application, you must be comfortable with hiring administrators knowing that you have a disability and that you may need a reasonable accommodation.  You are under no obligation to disclose the nature of your disability. If you do not want hiring administrators to be aware that you have a disability, do not file the 55-a application.  You may withdraw your 55-a application at any time.
     
  2. Review open recruitments and qualified entry level titles for the 55-a Program.  Choose the title(s) that you would like to apply for. A separate application must be submitted for each title you would like to apply for. 
     
  3. Upon submission of a completed 55-a application to the Dutchess County Human Rights/EEO Officer, your 55-a application will be reviewed. If you meet the minimum qualifications, your 55-a application will be sent to ACCESS-VR or Commission for the Blind along with the position description to verify that you can perform the essential functions of the job.
     
  4. ACCESS-VR/Commission for the Blind evaluates your skills and abilities against the essential functions of the job and either approves your 55-a status and suggests appropriate reasonable accommodations, or disapproves you for not being able to perform the essential functions of the job.  This decision is made on a job-by-job basis so if you are disapproved for not being physically or mentally able to perform the essential functions of one job, you may still be eligible for something else.
     
  5. ACCESS-VR/Commission for the Blind returns the approved 55-a application to Dutchess County Human Rights/EEO Officer.  The 55-a application is then put on a 55-a list for that specific entry level title and then shared with hiring administrators when a vacancy occurs.  Approved 55-a status gives the candidate the same standing for eligibility as the top three candidates on an ‘eligible list’ created as a result of a competitive civil service examination. Each hiring administrator arranges for its own interviews and may request submission of additional documents (professional letters of reference, a writing sample, etc.). 
     

Should I still consider taking a civil service exam if I am applying to the 55-a Program? 

Yes.  While the 55-a Program provides the opportunity to work in a position that would normally be within the competitive class, the 55-a Program does not provide all of the same rights and protections of a competitive class position.  The only way to become permanent in a competitive class position is to take and pass the competitive civil service examination, be appointed from the resulting ‘eligible list’, and successfully complete the probationary period. When taking a competitive civil service examination, reasonable accommodations are available upon request and with the submission of required supporting documentation.
 

What job titles are approved for the 55-a Program?

The following list of job titles are approved and eligible for the program. Visit the Class Specifications / Job Descriptions page for more detailed information about the job titles below.

  • Junior Auditor 
  • Human Resource Assistant
  • Human Resource Associate
  • Criminal Justice Intake Specialist
  • Programmer Analyst Trainee
  • Jr. Accountant
  • Motor Vehicle Clerk
  • Receiving Registry Clerk
  • Accounting Clerk
  • Clerk
  • Office Assistant
  • Receptionist
  • Program Assistant
  • Probation Intake Worker
  • Probation Officer Trainee
  • Jr. Planner
  • GIS Technician
  • Community Mental Health Aide/Counselor
  • Social Worker 1
  • Public Health Advisor
  • Public Health Engineering Technician
  • Public Health Sanitarian
  • Public Health Education Coordinator
  • Social Welfare Worker I
  • Case Manager I
  • Sheriff Aide
  • Jr. Civil Engineer

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