Federal Compensation FAQs

Hello, thanks for taking the time to reach out to us regarding your potential claim. Getting injured as a federal worker may seem like the worst thing to ever happen to you, and you may not know where to turn. As a result, you may look for answers from co-workers, the internet, and you may even consider reaching out to a law firm as you have done. At McCready Law, we’ve helped people just like you for decades receive compensation as injured federal workers who may have sustained a temporary or catastrophic, and even permanent injury. Please take the time to listen to the following Frequently Answered Questions, and we’re sure by the end of this e-consult, you’ll have the tools needed to hire us for your federal workers’ compensation injury claim.

FECA is a piece of legislation that was instituted at the turn of last century which is meant to cater to the legal needs of injured federal workers. It set the stage for the creation of the OWCP or the Office of the Workers’ Compensation Program, which informs the injured federal worker the necessary steps to take in order to recover compensation. In short, FECA protects your rights and access to compensation if you suffered an on-the-job injury as a federal worker.

Anyone who is an employee of the federal government and works under its many arms is covered by the FECA program. Some of the biggest groups of federal employees we work with include civilian federal employees, postal workers or USPS workers, individuals in the department of defense as well as forestry and maritime workers. When it comes to the injuries and illnesses we commonly help seek compensation for, any form of physical injuries such as those that involve slips and falls, back injuries due to carrying heavy loads, nerve injuries, burns, broken bones, lacerations and traumatic brain injuries. In addition, workplace exposure to toxic chemicals or hearing loss due to unreasonably loud environments, carpal tunnel, shoulder injury or rotator cuff tears and tendinopathy, dogs bites and so on. In addition, any infectious diseases that are contracted in the line of duty, mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and PTSD are also covered under the FECA program.

The first thing you’re required to do is inform your employer by providing them with official notice regarding your injury. Please note that this note should be given within 10 days of you having learned of or sustained this injury. Next, you want to make sure you seek immediate medical attention, and as you do so, complete forms CA-1 or CA-2: the first one should be completed by those that sustained traumatic injury, while the second, individuals who sustained or developed an occupational disease.

As you seek medical treatment, make sure the entire process is backed up by objective medical treatment, and if there were any workers who witnessed your injury or were privy to your occupational disease, ask them to write a witness statement.

Next, submit form CA-1 or CA-2 to your employer, who will then submit it to OWCP for review. OWCP will consequently determine if you are eligible for injured federal worker benefits. Please note that should OWCP rejects your claim, we’ll help you appeal the decision and an acceptance is possible.

An acceptance entitles you to a range of benefits, with the first one being cost of medical care so you are able to seek comprehensive treatment for your injuries or occupational illness. This may include things like surgery, doctor visits, physical therapy and so much more. In addition, you’ll get back the money you lost out on due to being out of work as a result of your injury or illness, known as wage-loss compensation. those who may have suffered severe or catastrophic injuries such as spinal cord injury, loss of a limb or traumatic brain injury and may need to be moved to a different department which can accommodate their physical injuries, or an entirely different job will receive paid training to help them move into their new job position, help with looking for said jobs as well as counseling to help them cope and acclimatize to their new reality. Last but not least, schedule awards are available for those that suffered a permanent injury or lost a limb or any other body part.

In order for OWCP to consider your claim after suffering an injury as a federal worker, you will have to provide them with medical documentation as well as either form CA-1 or CA-2 depending on injury or illness. These documents are then reviewed to ensure their completeness, and after verifying your employee status as a federal worker, an officer will determine whether there is a direct correlation between your injury and the performance of work duties that led to said injury or illness. Upon acceptance of your claim, you will be provided with authorization to seek treatment as well as any compensation deemed necessary such as wage loss benefits. If OWCP rejects your claim, they will offer reasons behind their rejection; that said, you can always appeal this rejection.

Some of the most common factors that will determine whether you will receive an acceptance or denial include your employment status at time of injury or illness, the existence or lack of a causal relationship between injury and the work activity, the existence or lack of medical documentation as well as the language contained therein, whether you had a pre-existing condition at the time of your injury, whether the injury was reported in a timely manner, and comparison with other similar, past cases handled by OWCP.

Wage loss benefits form a cornerstone of federal workers’ compensation because an injured worker will depend on this income to take care of their incidentals and make sure that they have food on the table as well as a place to live.

Calculating wage loss benefits first begins with looking at what you used to earn prior to getting injured, taking this figure and then multiplying it by 66 of 2/3rd of a percentage of your regular pay rate. However, this figure can be up to 75 percent of your earnings if you have dependents such as children, parents you take care of and so on. OWCP considers things like what you earned 52 weeks leading up to you injury, keeping in mind any increases you earned during this time. That said, if it is determined that you can carry out light duty such as clerical work, your wage-loss benefits may be reduced. These benefits always take into account inflation which happens on a yearly basis in order to make sure you’re able to sustain yourself in a manner that is deemed reasonable under FECA legislation.

The answer to this question is an absolute YES. FECA and the office of the OWCP takes into account any preexisting conditions, and does not disqualify you from compensation as a result of this. That said, FECA requires that you show, using objective medical evidence, that your condition was exacerbated or made worse by a work activity. In addition, compensation is available even if you had no visible symptoms of the preexisting condition, but then developed these symptoms as a result of the disabling or injurious work condition. FECA and OWCP require that the worsening of your preexisting medical condition be a permanent increase, and not just a temporary worsening that may get better from day-to-day or week-to week.

As always, you must initiate the process by letting your supervisor or employer know about this worsening of a preexisting condition, after which you will either complete form CA-1 or CA-2. Next, you want to make sure to provide medical proof in the form of documents with a doctor’s prognosis, treatment and related notes. To be considered for this claim, ensure that the doctor provides a detailed and objective medical assessment showing the connection between your job duties and the aggravation or worsening of your preexisting condition. After you’ve received this medical proof, send it along with your claim form to OWCP who will then assess your file to determine whether you have a legitimate claim. Once approved, you’ll be able to access benefits such as wage-loss pay as well as cost of medical treatment and so on. As with all claims federal workers’ compensation, medical evidence will take center stage in the determination of your claim’s eligibility.

In some instances, you may experience a worsening of your condition or original injury due to factors beyond your control, and despite comprehensive medical treatment. In such instances, you must let your employer or supervisor know, and then begin filling in form CA-2a or CA-2 if you experienced a recurrence of your original injury, or your occupational disease, respectively. As always, medical evidence is key in these cases, so make sure that your doctor completes an objective written medical assessment going into detail about your condition’s recurrence as well as their objective medical opinion on how this recurrence is related to the previous and original injury or illness.

Once OWCP receives your documentation, they will assess the evidence and suss out whether or not there is indeed a causal relationship between your recurrence and the original condition. They will then either approve or reject your new claim, which if approved, you may receive an increase in your wage-loss benefits or an increase in the days you will receive the same, as well as cater for the cost of any additional medical treatment you may require going forward.

Injured federal workers working overseas are also eligible for claims benefits even when they are outside the country. This program gives them access to wage-loss benefits, reimbursement or paying of their medical costs as well as the cost of their rehabilitation and job placement. FECA and OWCP will work closely with local healthcare providers as well as help these overseas federal workers access paperwork needed to file a claim, and even help them with any translation of said documents if needed. OWCP also makes it possible for injured federal workers overseas to have access to any counseling services which has been shown to help workers cope with the unique mental challenges associated with working overseas on federal assignments.

Your family members may also receive support for any travel expenses as well as any accommodation should you need them to be close to you during the ordeal. If the overseas injured federal worker has suffered a catastrophic injury or has experiencing a worsening of their occupational illness, transport and repatriation services will be made available so they can access specialized treatment. OWCP is in the end committed to ensuring that federal workers in overseas posts receive the same level of care as those working in U.S. soil.

Absolutely: injured federal workers can receive compensation for their injuries under FECA. However, there are specific requirements that must be in place in order to receive benefits. To begin with, the sports, social or team-building activity must be either put up or sponsored by your employer for the express purpose of creating a cohesive work environment or as a means of teaching federal workers key skills that will then be used to enhance their work performance.

In addition, your participation must be required as part of your job duties by your federal employer, and your injury must have a direct connection with the social or team-building activity, and there must not be any negligence on your part which could have caused the injury. In addition, the activity must have happened during compensable work hours and be reasonably expected to be part of your work-related schedule. Lastly, it must be shown that the activity involves or encompasses your work duties. If you meet the requirements above, then you may become eligible for wage-loss benefits, the cost of medical care, rehab costs and so much more.

This is a great question as it highlights how seriously FECA takes its program and puts forth checks and balances meant to protect your rights as an injured federal worker.

Retaliatory actions typically include things like intimidation, harassment, the creation of a hostile work environment or even sending threatening messages or emails. It is important to note that these actions are prohibited, as seen by the penalties levied on federal employers and agencies found to have done this. For instance, these agencies or individuals may be asked to pay fines, may be subject to criminal prosecution , disciplinary action such as demotion or suspensions from their roles and so on. If you’ve been a victim of retaliation, we can help you file a formal complaint with OWCP so the matter can be investigated. After a thorough investigation, your claim will be restored, including lost wages, opportunities and your position. If your case is deemed unusually severe, you may also be entitled to supplemental compensation as a means of making you legally whole.

It’s important to note that OWCP and FECA have your back during the duration of your recovery and readjustment into the new life caused by your injury or occupational illness. As such, your benefits will continue for the entire duration of your injury period. However, once you begin to stabilize and your doctor provides the agency with a clear prognosis, OWCP will work with you in order to discover your options going forward. For example, if your long-term prognosis includes permanent injury and disability, you will be eased into SSDI or Social Security Disability so that your flow of income is not disrupted. If retirement is in the horizon, you will be placed into the Civil Service Retirement System, CSRS, or the Federal Employees Retirement System, or FERS. OWCP will work closely with you to ensure that the process is seamless, and will be in constant communication with you for the entirety of the transition period.

Federal workers in high-risk occupations put their lives on their line for the American public, and as such, are provided with the needed care should they get injured, with the first specialized form of care being injury presumption due to the very nature of their jobs. OWCP presumes that conditions such as respiratory issues like bronchitis, various cancers due to toxic chemical exposure as well as heart disease due to working in high stress, high pressure environment.

This is put forth by 20 CFR § 10.115(c), which is a piece of legislation that individuals working in federal law enforcement, firefighters, air traffic controllers, and nuclear materials handlers are covered by, making it easier for these individuals to receive compensation under FECA.
Federal law enforcement, firefighters and those in similar high-risk occupations may be able to access higher or more specialized forms of disability benefits such as an increase in their wage-loss benefits as well as long-term or extended medical care as well as associated rehabilitation. These individuals may receive special referrals to trauma centers, therapists as well as occupational health centers that have experience treating individuals working in high risk occupations.

If you’re a member of federal law enforcement, the military or a firefighter and it is discovered that you won’t be able to return to work on account of a permanent injury or long-term, chronic illness such as COPD or cancer, you may be provided with vocational rehabilitation services as well as have access to retraining so you can work at a position that can accommodate your present condition.

The idea here is to make sure that you are still able to maintain your benefits and income so you can live a life of dignity and productivity as a member of the federal workforce. Our law firm is able to provide you with assistance if you’re an injured federal worker that works in a high-risk occupation, shortening the time between your injury and your access to your legally mandated benefits.

This is a very unique situation with a lot of caveats. Typically, federal workers are not entitled to compensation for injuries sustained while commuting, also known as the “going and coming” rule. This is because this time is typically not used to perform work-related duties. However, as with anything in life, there are exceptions, as we’re about to see. Injured federal workers may be eligible for benefits if they had been tasked to perform special errands for their employers and then got injured while in transit. In addition, compensation for your injuries may be availed if you were using transport provided by your employer, or if they reimbursed you for your transport costs. On top of that, if your federal employer has a different work location that you commuted to, or a commuting work place they control, compensation for your injuries may be available. That said, 5 U.S.C § 8102(a) requires that you show your injury or illness happened in the course of your employment, and this includes those that occur while commuting or traveling.

OWCP is a program that is meant to bridge the gap between your injury and your ability to be a productive member of society. Therefore, except in special circumstances such as the occurrence of a permanent injury, loss of limb or a chronic illness, the FECA program does its best to ensure you receive comprehensive treatment so you can resume working. Vocational rehabilitation is a process by which injured federal workers are provided with specialized training and advice meant to reintegrate them into federal employment with their original employer or find them a position that is in line with their injuries.

Light Duty or Modified Work is a component of federal workers’ compensation where you, the injured federal worker, are offered assignments or work duties that do not put strain on your injuries or illness so that you can continue working or earn a living wage, as stipulated by 5 U.S.C. § 8106(c). legally, your employer is required to work intimately with OWCP to ensure that this happens seamlessly, and your employer is legally required to make reasonable accommodations to make this happen, such as buying, for instance, an ergonomic desk and chair, installation of wheelchair ramps where possible, situating you in an area that is quiet and low stress if you were diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety or depression, as well as relieving you from package carrying duties if you are an USPS worker that suffered a spinal injury and instead relegating you to inventory tracking in an office.

Stress and mental health have become monumental concerns and topics over the last 5 years especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic. FECA and OWCP appreciate and understand the importance of having happy and well-adjusted federal workers, and as such, have put in place programs to alleviate as well as compensate workers for any stress-related or mental health claims arising out of work circumstances. For instance, 5 U.S.C. § 8101(5) includes mental illness as a form of injury as long as it was exacerbated or initiated by a work circumstance.

That said, the burden of proof lies on you; you must demonstrate a causal relationship between your injury and the specific work factor that caused it. In addition, you’re required to put forth medical evidence as well as an official medical diagnosis. OWCP will provide compensation for work factors such as interpersonal work conflicts, work-related harassment, unreasonable work demands as well as witnessing or becoming the subject of a traumatic work event. Objectivity is key when it comes to these claims, so make sure that your psychologist’s or psychiatrist’s assessment mentions this. Remember, you don’t have to suffer silently and experience diminished mental health: help is at hand; simply reach out to us for assistance with filing these types of claims.

It is important to note that timeliness is a cornerstone of workers’ compensation program, so timely filing may mean the difference between receiving compensation and getting your claim denied. To this end, make sure that you file Notice of Injury or Occupational Disease within a month of your injury happening, or the date which you first became aware of your injury. In addition, you’re required to file form CA-1 or CA-2 within 3 years of your injury date or the date which you first became aware of your injury. If you have an underlying or latent condition, the clock starts ticking from the day you became aware or should have been reasonably aware of this condition (such as cancer, or a mental health condition such as epilepsy, bipolar depression or schizophrenia). While you may be able to apply for a time limit extension as stipulated by 5 U.S.C. § 8122(d), you don’t want OWCP to cast aspersions on your claim, and as such, we always advise clients to file their claim within the shortest amount possible with our assistance so it can be expedited.

Thanks for taking the time to listen to some of the answers to frequently asked questions posed by injured federal workers. Please, feel free to reach out to us for more assistance with starting the process of filing your claim as an injured federal worker. Thanks for choosing McCready Law.