You’re a federal worker who’s gotten hurt on the job, or you contracted an illness while you’re performing your duties. You’re scared and in pain. Maybe you can’t work, and you wonder how you’ll buy groceries and take care of your family.
The federal workers’ compensation program might provide the answer. Our government has designed it to give you continuing income and medical care when you, as a federal employee, suffer a work-related injury, but will it actually assist you at the time of your greatest need?
Unfortunately, many federal employees experience numerous problems and roadblocks when trying to navigate the overly-complicated workers’ compensation system. That’s why we’ve written this article and others on the site, to help you get the benefits you’ve worked so hard to earn. So let’s begin.
First, it deals with traumatic injury, meaning that while working, something hurt you or damaged your prosthetic device. The problem occurred on a single day or work shift. Traumatic injuries don’t involve chronic problems occurring over a long period, such as carpel tunnel syndrome.
Second, the workers’ comp program helps people who suffer from an occupational disease. That’s similar to a traumatic injury, but it occurs over a period of time longer than one day. Workers’ Comp might pay you for carpel tunnel and other repetitive stress injuries under this category. You use a different form for this type of problem than you employ when suffering a traumatic injury.
Third, the program protects against an infection that you contracted at work. Simple exposure a pathogen doesn’t count. Unfortunately, the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) won’t help unless you can show that the bug actually hurt you.
An example should clarify things. Let’s say you somehow stick yourself with a needle while injecting a patient. Unfortunately, you have no idea whether or not that person has a contagious disease such as tuberculosis. The workers comp program will not pay for diagnostic tests in that case. It will only compensate you for those examinations if you have evidence that the patient has an infectious disease.
Fill out the form with details of your claim
The following section provides a brief overview of
how you can demonstrate your need for federal workers compensation.
Before you can obtain your federal workers compensation benefits,
you must prove the following to the OWCP.
You are a federal employee as defined by the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA).
You sustained an on-the-job injury.
You got hurt while performing your official duties.
The injury you sustained on the job while doing your work caused your disability.
Your agency might claim that you engaged in willful misconduct by deliberately injuring yourself, drinking or using illegal drugs. If they allege that, you must respond.
Unhappily, the agency might reject your claim outright. Even if it initially approves your case, however, the OWCP may later reduce your payments or discontinue them completely.
Fortunately, you needn’t passively accept the OWCP’s adverse actions. You can appeal them. In fact, you may choose among three types of petitions.
You can ask for a reconsideration by writing to your district office within one year of receiving the adverse action. You must state why you’re appealing. In addition to that, you need to either produce new evidence or show how the agency misinterpreted the law.
Alternatively, you might request a hearing within 30 days after the OWCP notified you of its adverse action. You may ask for either for an oral meeting with an office representative or a review of the written record, not both. Here’s another consideration. You cannot request both a reconsideration and a hearing, but you must choose between the two types of appeals.
Finally, you may seek a review by the Employee Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB). This is the highest organization that hears federal workers’ compensation appeals. It only examines the case record and will consider no new evidence.
The OWCP may issue you many types of benefits. We’ll discuss three of them here.
You might receive a Continuation of Pay (COP) for up to 45 days if you suffer from a “traumatic injury.” This happens when a disabling event occurs on the job during one day or on a single shift. The COP pays your full salary.
You also might obtain disability payments if you’re not able to work after your COP moneys run out. You will receive two-thirds of your salary if you have no dependents or three-quarters if you do.
In addition to your COP and disability pay, the OWCP may give you a scheduled payment if you partially or completely lose the use of body parts such as eyes, ears or limbs. This amounts to a number of weeks’ salary depending on the body part involved and the extent of disability.
Do you want more detail? Go to our article entitled, “How Much Will I Receive for My Workers Compensation Claim?”
Thisfederal publicationprovides additional information as well, but why bother with that when we can answer your questions in plain, simple English, free and without obligation. Simply contact us at…
Are you confused by the complex legal landscape surrounding your federal workers’ compensation claim? Have you become frustrated trying to deal with OWCP yourself?
Are you unsure of what you need to say and what you need to prove in response to OWCP’s notice of proposed termination of compensation?
Do you need to decide which way to appeal an adverse decision by OWCP?
Do you need an OWCP roadmap?
Have you duly filed a CA-1 claim form? You have, but now you’ve come to detours and dead ends.
The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) has denied your claim for traumatic injury.
Was your claim approved? It was, but now you’ve run into roadblocks.
OWCP has terminated (or notified you it may terminate) your wage-loss compensation and/or medical benefits.
OWCP has disqualified (or threatened to disqualify) you from wage-loss compensation.
OWCP has reduced (or threatened to reduce) your wage-loss compensation.