FERS Disability Vs OWCP Payments

Sep 23, 2016

fersIn a previous post, we looked at the interaction of FERS disability and SSD. Now we’re going to look at how FERS disability and OWCP (Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs) payments interact.

Unlike Federal Disability Retirement, in order to receive OWCP payments, your injury must have occurred on-the-job. It must also affect your job functions. Remember a requirement for applying for a FERS Disability is that you also apply for SSD benefits. That is not the case with a FERS Disability and OWCP payments. You don’t have to apply for one in order to receive the other. However, applying for both can affect how you receive your benefits.

Workers Compensation pays you if you are hurt on the job. That injury must hold you back from being able to complete your job duties. Here is how OWCP can help with lost wages:

  1. Lost wages covers a portion of your salary. You would receive 66.6% of your wages if you are single and 75% if you have dependents. Both of these are tax-free.
  2. Medical pays for your medical bills, not the premiums, for the life of the injury.
  3. Schedule Award (SA) is a lump sum determined by the severity of the injury and to what part of the body the injury occurred. You can’t receive this and lost wages at the same time. However, you are able to get FERS disability and an SA concurrently.
  4. Continuation of Pay (COP) provides you with your same rate of pay for the first 45 days after the injury.

OWCP payments are designed to be temporary whereas disability is ongoing. Disability payments will be suspended if you elect to receive OWCP payments. However, if OWCP benefits stop, you can get disability benefits back. This can only happen provided you have not recovered from the disability and you haven’t been restored to earning capacity.

If OPM approves your case before OWCP does, they will begin paying out your annuity. However, if OWCP also approves you, and you accept, the money already paid to you by OPM will have to be paid back to them.

There are a couple of instances where you can receive a FERS annuity and OWCP benefits concurrently:
  1. You are receiving a Schedule Award from OWCP.
  2. You are receiving OWCP benefits due to death of another person and you are eligible for an annuity based on your own Federal service.
  3. Your OWCP payments are suspended because you are receiving a 3rd party settlement from the party directly responsible for your injury. In this example, your annuity may be paid during the period that your OWCP benefits are suspended.

*If after you retire, and you are receiving a FERS annuity and a Schedule Award, you must notify OPM if your SA is changed to a non-scheduled OWCP benefit.

Understanding how all these benefits work together, and in some cases don’t work together, can help you better understand your options should you qualify for more than one. If you think you qualify for one, or both of these benefits, please give us a call at 877-226-2723 or fill out this inquiry form today. We would be happy to help you in any way we can!

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