In these unparalleled times, it can be difficult to find the information you need if you have contracted COVID-19 or been impacted by its spread. Many federal employees that have been affected by COVID-19 are wondering what their benefits options are. In this article, we will look at whether or not you can make a claim under OWCP if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, what the process of filing a claim looks like, and how long you can expect to receive compensation.
Is COVID-19 covered under OWCP?
As with any work-related disease or injury, you can file a claim under OWCP if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and you believe you were exposed while working. Based on your type of employment, you may be required to provide differing types of documentation to prove that you were exposed to the virus during your work duties.
How do I prove I was exposed at work?
This will be the most difficult part of making a claim for workers’ compensation for COVID-19 infection. While most federal employees will not be knowingly put into harm’s way, some positions are considered more high risk (see below). However, it appears that the DOL is being more lenient with COVID-19 coverage due to the unique nature of the current situation. Still, it will take a significant effort to prove that you were exposed while working.
What do I do if I was exposed to COVID-19 at work?
If you are a federal employee who was exposed to COVID-19 while working and later test positive, you should file a CA-1 through your agency. OWCP considers a diagnosis of COVID-19 a traumatic injury, and the steps taken for any other traumatic injury will apply here. You should file the CA-1 within 30 days of your diagnosis to be eligible for benefits.
Can any federal employee receive compensation for a COVID-19 diagnosis?
If you are considered a “high-risk” employee and receive a positive diagnosis of COVID-19, you simply need to file a CA-1 and provide proof of your diagnosis. “High-risk” employees are law enforcement officers, first responders, and those that work directly with the aforementioned groups.
Even if you are not considered “high-risk,” you can still be eligible for compensation from OWCP if you contracted COVID-19 while working. If you believe that you contracted the virus while in the course of your work, you can still file a CA-1. You will need to provide additional information to prove that you were exposed to the virus while working. This could include a personal statement, statements from your supervisor, and medical documentation.
If you are ultimately denied coverage under the OWCP for COVID-19 there are other financial support options available for federal employees that we have detail in an article here: https://www.federaldisability.com/blog/2020/04/financial-support-for-federal-employees-impacted-by-covid-19/
How long will I receive compensation for a COVID-19 diagnosis?
If your claim for compensation is accepted, you will immediately be eligible for Continuation of Pay (COP) which lasts for 45 days and is paid by your agency. Additionally, all your required medical treatment will be covered and paid for by the Department of Labor (DOL). If there are additional complications supported by medical documentation that occur beyond the initial 45 days, OWCP will provide wage loss payments until you have recovered.
Ultimately, OWCP Federal Workers’ Compensation is a potential option for federal employees who have contracted Coronavirus while working and need wage loss or medical bill payments. However, expect a long and difficult road to getting your claim accepted. For more information on OWCP Federal Workers’ Compensation and your federal benefits, give our office a call: 877-226-2723