Schedule Awards for Nerve Damage: Separating Fact from Fiction

by | Dec 18, 2023

woman with neck pain nerve damage

If you’re a federal employee suffering from nerve damage and struggling to work, you might be wondering what you can do to ease the stress of the situation, and if a schedule award is the solution. Read on to discover what a schedule award can do, clear up common misconceptions, see if you qualify, and understand how it connects with Federal Disability Retirement, an early retirement option that allows you to find long-term financial security.

What is a Schedule Award?

A schedule award is one of the benefits available to injured employees under OWCP Federal Workers’ Compensation. Specifically, it’s a lump-sum payment for permanent damage made to a body part that is listed on the OWCP Schedule. If you are a federal worker who has suffered from an on-the-job injury leading to a permanent loss or reduced use of a body part, you may qualify for a schedule award. While the process may seem overwhelming, it’s often worthwhile as it can provide financial support and acknowledge the difficulties you’ve faced.

Do I qualify for a Schedule Award?

In order receive a schedule award, you must meet the following qualifications:

  1. The injury must be work-related as a result of your federal employment.
  2. The impairment must be permanent and listed on the OWCP Schedule.
  3. You must reach the Maximum Medical Improvement determined by your doctor.

It’s important to know that to reach maximum medical improvement, your doctor must document that your injury can no longer improve.

Additionally, you can’t receive a schedule award while on wage loss payments from OWCP. However, a schedule award for one injury may be paid concurrently with compensation for wage loss paid for another injury, as long as the two injuries do not involve the same part of the body and/or extremity.

For nerve damage cases, it’s important to clearly understand its specific impact and see how it fits with the criteria for a schedule award, which will help in assessing your eligibility.

Can I Receive a Schedule Award for Nerve Damage?

As a federal worker, you can’t receive a schedule award solely for nerve damage because it’s not a body part listed on the OWCP Schedule. However, if your nerve damage is part of an on-the-job injury to a body part listed on the schedule, then you may qualify.

Consider a park ranger who sustains a back injury while lifting heavy equipment but recovers completely after a few weeks of rest. Even though they might have experienced temporary nerve pain during their recovery, they would not qualify for a schedule award since their back injury is not permanent and fully heals.

However, if a postal worker had a wrist injury that pinched a nerve and resulted in long-term damage, then they would be entitled to a schedule award. The key is the permanent impairment to the wrist, a scheduled body part, rather than the nerve damage itself.

Overall, the term “nerve damage schedule award” can be misleading because you can’t receive the benefit based on nerve damage alone. Remember, if your nerve damage is part of another permanent impairment to a body part listed on the schedule due to an on-the-job injury, then you may be entitled to a schedule award.

How Do I Apply for a Schedule Award?

To apply for a schedule award, you must gather and submit Form CA-7, Claim for Compensation and your doctor’s impairment rating to your agency. Your agency then has 5 working days to forward the form to OWCP.

Your impairment rating will be assigned by your doctor in accordance with the AMA Guide 6th Edition. Remember, to receive an impairment rating, your injury must be at Maximum Medical Improvement. Your doctor will determine when you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement.

While there is no strict deadline for claiming a schedule award, it’s important to keep in mind that the claimant must be alive to claim it. Even if your injury occurred decades earlier, you’re still eligible to apply.

Do I Have Any Other Options?

It’s important to know that you may be eligible to utilize multiple benefits to counteract the financial impacts caused by your injury. A key benefit that works with a schedule award to increase your income is Federal Disability Retirement.

Specifically, you can receive 100% of your schedule award while also receiving 100% of your Federal Disability Retirement annuity if you’re approved for both. This can be very beneficial for federal employees concerned about their future ability to work due to their injury. This positive interaction will allow you to receive a higher combined income and set you up for a more financially secure future.

You can also be approved for Federal Disability Retirement if you’re receiving OWCP wage loss payments and put the Federal Disability Retirement benefits on hold until your wage loss payments end.

While on Federal Disability Retirement, you would:

  • Receive a monthly annuity payment
  • Maintain your health and life insurance
  • Gain additional years of creditable service on top of your current service
  • Be able to work in the private sector while earning up to 80% of your old position’s current salary

As you can see, these benefits can offer great financial relief.

At Harris Federal, we’ve helped more than 8,000 clients secure this life-changing benefit at a 99% success rate. Federal Disability Retirement might be another helpful option to consider on top of a schedule award. Schedule a free consultation with us today and let us answer your questions and help you determine if Federal Disability Retirement is right for you.

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