Continuation of Pay (COP) is a vital benefit that federal employees can receive if they are injured on the job. This payment allows you to continue receiving your regular paychecks while you are recovering from an on-the-job injury, which can be a huge help in ensuring that you have the financial stability you need during this difficult time.
In this article, we will go over continuation of pay and explain how to apply for this important benefit.
What is COP?
Continuation of Pay or COP is a benefit for eligible federal workers that have experienced a traumatic injury. This benefit allows you to receive your regular pay for up to 45 calendar days and is intended to be a bridge until you can get your Workers’ Compensation (OWCP) wage loss claim accepted so that you are not without pay in the meantime.
These payments will be subject to typical payroll deductions like retirement contributions and income taxes. This benefit allows you to relax and focus on your recovery after a traumatic injury at work instead of worrying about how you are going to keep up with your bills.
In order to be approved for continuation of pay, you must be able to prove that your injury is traumatic and occurred while on the job in your federal position. If you have an occupational illness, however, you will not be entitled to continuation of pay benefits.
What Counts Towards 45 Days?
Continuation of pay can last up to 45 calendar days. This is an important distinction from workdays as weekends, holidays, and days off are all counted towards your 45 days.
According to the National Institutes of Health, “COP begins with the first absence from work following the date of injury due to disability or medical treatment, provided that the absence begins within 45 calendar days after the injury.”
Additionally, COP is tracked by the day not by the hour, so if you only used a couple hours to attend a doctor’s appointment, the entire day would count as a full day of COP.
If you return to work without using all 45 days of COP, and then have a recurrence of your injury within the 45-day period, you will be able to use the additional time you have left of COP.
How Do I Apply for COP?
In order to apply for COP, you must submit a Traumatic Injury (CA-1) form to your agency and provide supporting medical documentation, such as doctors’ notes and other proof of your injury.
While COP is not paid by OWCP, and you do not have to receive wage loss after receiving COP, it is a part of the OWCP process. When you complete the CA-1 you are applying for both COP and OWCP benefits simultaneously– you cannot receive COP without applying for OWCP benefits. And while COP is paid by the agency, it is overseen by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs.
Your application for continuation of pay must be made within 30 days of the injury or it will not be considered. You are expected to provide your supervisor with medical documentation indicating the dates you cannot work due to your injury.
Continuation of pay is an important benefit that can help to bridge the gap and make sure federal workers have the financial stability they need while recovering from a potentially life-altering injury.
What if I can’t return to work?
If you have been injured or become disabled and you cannot return to work, Federal Disability Retirement may be an option for you.
This lesser known federal benefit can allow you to retire now, while receiving a secure monthly annuity, creditable years of service, the ability to work in the private sector, and the option to maintain your health and life insurance.
In order to be eligible for Federal Disability Retirement, you must be a career FERS employee, with at least 18 months of creditable service, and a disability that is preventing you from performing at least one of the essential functions of your position.
To learn more about Federal Disability Retirement and see if you qualify, schedule a FREE consultation today!