Federal Workers’ Compensation Overview

by | Jul 21, 2014

Last Updated December 14, 2023
federal workers compensation attorney

If you’re a federal employee who’s been injured at work, contracted a work-related disease, or if you’re the survivor of a federal employee who died on the job, you might qualify for federal workers’ compensation. Federal Workers’ Compensation can provide you or your survivor money for lost wages, medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation, and more.

What agency handles my claim?

The Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA), which is the governing law over federal workers’ compensation, is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP).

You will file your initial claim with the OWCP and a claims examiner (CE) will review your file. The CE will look at five factors that you must prove in order for your claim to be approved and for you to receive benefits under the program.

What do I need to prove in order to obtain federal workers’ compensation?

There are five factors that a claims examiner must find in order to approve your claim.

First, you must have provided timely notice of your injury or death. This must occur within thirty days of the injury or death and is usually made by your employing agency sending written notice to the OWCP. The statute of limitations for your federal workers’ compensation claim is three years from the date of injury or death. With few exceptions, you must meet this deadline otherwise you, or your survivors if you are deceased, will lose your claim. According to the DOL, if a claim is not filed within 3 years, compensation may still be paid if written notice of injury was given within 30 days or if the employer had actual knowledge of the injury within 30 days after it occurred.

Second, your injury must have happened while you were employed by the federal government. Generally, your supervisor’s report of your accident or injury will suffice as long as the agency you worked for was part of the federal government.

Third, you must prove that you were injured. The claims examiner will look at two factors– the first is a factual inquiry. The CE must determine that the event or accident did occur. Second, the CE will review the medical records to find out whether the injury or death diagnosis arose from the factual inquiry. Just because you have an injury doesn’t prove that it happened on the job. You also need to be aware of an occupational injury with no sudden onset.

Fourth, the injury or death must have occurred due to your performance on the job. Injuries or death that happened as a result of actions or events that took place outside of the context of your employment will not qualify you for benefits. In other words, you cannot have been fooling around on the job and due to your own fault you hurt yourself even if it was during work hours.

Fifth, the injury or death must be causally related to what you were doing on the job. This can be shown as either a direct cause or an aggravated cause. For instance, if you were working on a government project installing light fixtures and you fell off the ladder accidentally and broke your arm, then your broken arm would have been a direct cause of performing your job.

There are also cases where you may have a pre-existing injury that is aggravated by an event that occurred on the job. Just because you have an injury that was there before you started working doesn’t mean that you can get compensation for it. Your job duties must have aggravated the injury and made it worse.

Regardless, you must have adequate medical records and a legitimate diagnosis from a qualified physician. Having your injury medically evaluated is crucial to your claim.

If you have been injured on the job and are unable to perform your duties, you may also qualify for Federal Disability Retirement.

You could qualify for Federal Disability Retirement

Federal Disability Retirement is another federal disability benefit that allows federal employees to retire early if they are unable to continue working in their current position. This benefit provides you with a secure monthly payment, continued creditable years of service, the option to maintain your health and life insurance, and the ability to work in the private sector in a new job.

Federal Disability Retirement is more of a long term benefit that can work with OWCP in order to help maximize your retirement. If you are struggling to work in your federal job, contact our firm today for a free consultation to see what federal benefits you may qualify for.

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