Injured federal workers are able to seek reprieve in the form of compensation for their injuries thanks to legislation laid out by FECA, or the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act. This provides different forms of compensation that can be combined and used to take care of medical bills, cost of living, as well as home-based care and vocational rehabilitation. Injured federal workers run the gamut, from those working for USPS, the research and medical fields, law enforcement and first responders.
The Office of Workers’ Compensation Program or OWCP is responsible for receiving, approving, or rejecting all claims. Claims Examiners categorize all submissions and place them into different categories depending on the compensation the claimant is wishing to receive. OWCP is granted these powers by the Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation (DFEC), which oversees compensation for injured federal workers as well as those looking to retire due to a permanent or catastrophic injury, as well as individuals who have suffered an occupational injury.
Learn more about how you could file your claim with a federal workers’ compensation lawyer.
As an injured federal worker, you may have many questions regarding your claim – for instance, “How do I get started with filing a claim, and how long does the entire process take?” Given the clearly laid out regulations, time is of the essence when it comes to seeking compensation for an injury as a federal worker. It is important that you inform your supervisor of your injury the day it happens, or at the very least, within 10 days of its occurrence. In addition, filling in a form CA-1 or CA-2 is vital as these forms alert OWCP of the injury and put them on notice that you would like to get started on the compensation process. Lastly, continuation of pay or COP should be on the list of your priorities as this will take care of your financial and medical treatment needs for the first 45 days following any traumatic injuries. If you do not request COP within the first 30 days it is almost always forfeited.
Some of the most common types of injuries experienced by federal workers include:
It is important to understand that federal worker injuries will only be accepted and open to compensation if they happened while performing work duties. This means slipping and falling at home over the weekend, for instance, is not compensable. If you were injured while commuting, it is important to show that you were carrying out a work duty while on the road en route to another location in order to be considered for compensation. A federal workers’ comp lawyer could answer questions you may have about this.
Federal workers’ compensation relies heavily on medical information in the form of an objective medical report which lends credibility to your claim. Claims Examiners do not seek opinions, but base their decisions on whether or not they should award you injured federal worker benefits based off your medical report.
It is therefore important that you see a physician who understands and has experience with OWCP reporting procedures for federal worker injuries. If you have trouble finding an OWCP-conversant physician, simply contact us and we could make our resources available to you.
A lot of people come to a federal workers’ compensation attorney worrying about the possibility of having missed filing deadlines for workers’ compensation. However, the statutory time limitation usually commences from the day you were made reasonably aware of your injury or injuries. It is important that you file your claim within 3 years of having been made reasonably aware of your injuries. However, as a rule of thumb, let your employer know about your injuries via a written notice within 30 days of sustaining said injuries whenever possible.
Federal workers’ compensation also allows you to file a compensation claim for the permanent loss of certain organs or body parts. This can be done via the filing of a Schedule Award which is done by submitting form CA-7. This is usually done in concert with a medical report from your treating physician who is familiar with OWCP medical reporting protocol and who understands the impairment rating as outlined in the 6th Edition of the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment booklet. The physician provides an objective medical report written in a narrative format, and the schedule Award forms are then sent to your Claims Examiner who assesses them and confirms that they are complete. After this they are sent to the district medical advisor or DMA who will make a final decision regarding the impairment rating.
Please remember to write your claim number on every page that will be sent to OWCP as this helps maintain the integrity of your file and ensures there isn’t any incomplete data which may delay your receipt of federal workers’ compensation benefits.
Should you become unable to perform work duties, FERS disability could be an option for you. This is a federal retirement system that allows you to receive a certain percentage of your pay until you reach the age of 62. The federal disability retirement system is ideal for individuals who may have suffered catastrophic injuries such as amputation, traumatic brain injury, spinal injury, blindness or developed major depressive disorder, bipolar depression, chronic anxiety or schizophrenia but it is possible to qualify for it with less severe injuries, too.
In order to qualify for FERS disability:
Ask a federal workman’s comp lawyer for help if you are still unsure if you qualify.
FERS disability is unique in that you do not have to prove complete disability; only that you are unable to perform assigned work duties in an efficient manner at your current employment position and station. The cause of the medical condition is irrelevant for disability retirement, therefore the condition does not need to be caused by a work injury.
Applying for federal disability retirement must be done while you are still employed by the federal government, or within a year of leaving your current position with the federal agency. In addition, you must submit relevant medical records backing up your narrative in your forms in order to be considered eligible. Lastly, please be aware that you will be required to apply for Social Security disability benefits or SSDI along with FERS benefits which will offset a percentage of your FERS benefits. You can stay on FERS disability benefits and work elsewhere as long as you do not earn more than 80 percent of what you used to earn at your federal position.
Here are the main types of benefits you can expect to receive as an injured federal worker:
This typically covers the costs of hospital, surgical and medical services for the duration of your injuries. In addition, transport costs are covered, and you have the opportunity to choose your treating physician. That said, if you wish to change physicians, it is important that you let OWCP know in writing about the requested change of medical providers as they must approve it before they will cover additional treatment expenses.
This qualifies you for Continuation of Pay benefits for up to 45 days if you have suffered a traumatic injury. If you still have not recovered after this period, you can elect to commence leave without pay, take sick time, as well as apply for compensation from OWCP which should ideally be done while you’re still under COP benefits. It is important to note that loss of wages compensation is available to injured federal workers and it is typically two thirds of what you used to earn if you have no dependents, and three quarters if you have spouses, children, and family that financially depend on you.
Federal workers’ compensation is an enigma that can be difficult to understand. If you are a first-time applicant, we empathize and we could tell you exactly where to start, which forms to fill, which forms of compensation to apply for as well as what you can expect on a monthly basis in terms of benefits. In addition, working with a federal workers’ compensation lawyer will provide you with access to our team of physicians, investigators, and other key individuals that will make the whole process a breeze from start to finish.
It may be tempting to try and apply for compensation on your own, but the reality is that many individuals get rejected or have to redo the whole application process because of an incorrectly done medical report or an administrative snafu they did not adhere to. Let’s eliminate the mistakes for you, and have you get it right the first time.
McCready Law protects the rights of all injured federal workers across the country, and we’re with you every step of the way. If you’d like to get started on your injured federal worker claim, fill in the contact form. Thanks, and we look forward to hearing from you.