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How often may you request FMLA recertifications for chronic conditions?

30 days, six months, one year?

Posted August 30, 2018

I would like to say that the simple answer to this question is every 30 days. The real answer, however, isn’t always the simple one. Read on to learn more!

If you are reading this, you’ve likely received an FMLA certification from an employee indicating that he or a family member has a chronic condition, and the employee needs leave because of it. The condition could last months, years, or it may even be life-long. Let’s face it, us humans can, and do, end up with many such conditions.

In fact, according to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, a chronic disease is a one that lasts three months or longer. The CDC indicates that they affect approximately 133 million Americans. Therefore, it’s easy to see why you might have an employee with a chronic condition.

When it comes to the FMLA, you probably also know that you may request a certification supporting the need for leave for a medical condition. But then, once you receive such a certification, is there anything more you can do?

Let’s take Joe Employee, who has a chronic condition. He provides you with an initial certification that does not specify a minimum duration of incapacity (find this in Part A1 — Probable duration of condition). In this situation, you may request a recertification no more often than every 30 days, provided the recertification is done only in connection with an absence. This also applies if the duration of the condition is listed as “unknown.” Just remember not to ask Joe for a recertification if he hasn’t been absent. This is true if the leave is intermittent or continuous.

Now let’s say that Joe’s initial certification indicates that the condition will last for 180 days. In such a situation, you may not request recertification until the end of that 180 days unless an extension is requested, circumstances have changed significantly, or you have information that casts doubt on the stated reason for an absence or the continuing validity of the certification.

Finally, let’s say that the initial certification indicates that the condition will last for Joe’s lifetime. In this situation, you may request a recertification every six months and, again, only in relation to an absence.

So, there is no one simple answer to the question, as it will depend upon what the duration of the condition is. Also, don’t forget – you may not ask for a second or third opinion on recertifications.

Now that you’ve got the recertification provisions down pat, carry on with confidence in your efforts to keep FMLA leave abuse at bay!

Essentials of FMLAJ. J. Keller's Essentials of FMLA manual helps HR pros understand and comply with the FMLA rules, control costs related to leave taken, and minimize the law's potential disruption to their organizations' operations.


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