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The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP)

Like states, the U.S. government provides benefits to civilian federal workers who become injured or ill because of their job duties. Workers’ dependents may also be eligible to receive benefits if a work-related injury or disease causes a loved one’s death.

The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) administers four major disability compensation programs for federal workers.

Federal Workers Compensation
Most federal workers fall within the Federal Employees’ Compensation Program, which is administered according to the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act and handled by the Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation.
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Who is Eligible for Federal Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) provides coverage to three million federal and postal workers around the world for employment-related injuries and occupational diseases.

Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA)
The FECA program covers all civilians employed by the federal government, including employees in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.

Special Legislation for Workers Comp
Special legislation extends coverage to Peace Corps and Vista volunteers, federal jurors, volunteer members of the Civil Air Patrol, Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets, Job Corps and Youth Conservation Corps enrollees and state and local law enforcement officers acting in a federal capacity.

Temporary employees are covered on the same basis as permanent employees. Contract employees, volunteers and loaned employees are covered under some circumstances.

FECA does not cover non-appropriated fund employees.

There is no list of covered or non-covered medical conditions under FECA. However, federal workers’ comp benefits will be denied if the worker’s injury or illness was caused by the employee’s:

Intoxication, Misconduct, Intention to Harm

What Types of Benefits are Available?

FECA provides benefits to federal employees who are injured or become ill in the course of their employment and to the survivors of employees killed on the job.

Federal workers’ compensation program benefits include:

Federal Workers Compensation Medical Benefits
Medical BenefitsThese benefits cover medical treatment, therapies, medications, devices and transportation costs, without the need for co-payments, cost-sharing or use of private insurance. The worker may choose the initial care provider. However, OWCP must approve any changes in providers. Medical costs also include costs of vocational rehabilitation services necessary to help the injured or ill employee to return to work
Federal Workers Compensation Temporary Total Disability
Temporary Total DisabilityIn cases of traumatic injuries, beneficiaries can receive a continuation of their full pay (COP) for the first 45 days of disability. Otherwise, if a worker has suffered a disabling, job-related injury or illness, the worker may be eligible to receive 2/3 of the worker’s pre-disability wages or, if the worker has one or more dependents, 3/4 of the pre-disability wages.
Federal Workers Compensation Permanent Effects
Permanent EffectsThese benefits cover workers who suffer from specific job-related permanent partial disabilities such as the loss of a limb. The wage-loss benefits are paid for a set number of weeks as provided by schedules set by statutes and regulations. This benefit is commonly referred to as a “Schedule Award”.

If the employee cannot return to regular work, he or she may be eligible for loss-of-earning capacity benefits. The amount is the difference between the worker’s pre-impairment wages and the amount he or she can earn after the injury.

Federal Workers Compensation Death Benefits
Death BenefitsSurvivors who are dependents of employees killed on the job may be eligible to recover death benefits, including the spouse, children and dependent parents, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren. The amount depends on the survivor’s relationship to the deceased employee and whether there are children. A deceased workers’ family may also receive up to $800 in burial expenses.

How the Workers’ Compensation Claims Process Works

The OWCP processes and adjudicates federal workers’ compensation claims.

Medical Record
In some cases, the OWCP may order a claimant to submit to a medical examination from a doctor contracted to the federal government. The OWCP may also require that its representative (usually a nurse) attend and monitor medical visits with the doctor, visit privately with the claimant’s doctor and report back to OWCP with his/her opinion of the course of treatment.
If a worker disagrees with a claims decision, the worker may request a hearing before OWCP or seek an OWCP review of the record of its decision. If the decision after that appeal is not satisfactory, a final appeal can be made to the Employees’ Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB). The decision of the ECAB is final and not subject to judicial review.

Harris Federal Can Help You to Obtain the Benefits You Deserve

To receive federal workers’ compensation benefits, a worker must gather records and complete numerous forms with written correspondence. Any discrepancies or omissions can result in a claim being delayed or rejected.

Harris Federal Law Firm Staff

At Harris Federal, we can help you to avoid costly mistakes. Harris Federal can work with you to ensure that your federal workers’ compensation claim is complete, accurate and filed on time. If your claim was denied, we can work with you to resolve problems with your case file and represent you on appeal.

Another factor to be aware of is how FECA benefits may be affected by CSRS and FERS disability retirement benefits.

Federal Workers Compensation Beneficiary
A beneficiary of federal workers’ compensation who is also eligible for CSRS or FERS disability retirement benefits may elect to receive disability retirement benefits or remain in the FECA program for the duration of the disability.

A FECA settlement also affects the total amount of monthly Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits a worker and his or her spouse and dependents may receive.

As part of our services, Harris Federal can assist and advise you about what is financially appropriate for you regarding all your federal benefits.

Contact Harris Federal about Your Federal Workers’ Compensation Claim

Bo Harris and Brad Harris
The attorneys and legal staff of Harris Federal have the skill and experience to help you to seek the federal workers’ compensation benefits you are due.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Sources / More Information

The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, U.S. Department of Labor