If you’ve suffered a permanent injury while working for a federal government agency, you might be entitled to a special type of compensation. This special compensation is called a schedule award.
A schedule award refers to the schedule of damages set by the government for impairment of an extremity or other body part. The government uses a calculation based on the OWCP compensation rate multiplied by the number of weeks allotted on the schedule for the injured body part multiplied by the percentage of impairment. The OWCP pays compensation at 66.67% of the employee’s pay or 75% of their pay if they have at least one dependent.
Receiving a schedule award requires you to meet the strict criteria of the federal Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP). Here are five things you need to consider before you apply for a schedule award.
1. You must have a qualifying injury
Before starting the schedule award application process, you should check to see whether you have a qualifying injury. To qualify, you must suffer a permanent impairment that results in the loss of functionality for one of these body parts:
Each qualifying injury to a body part on this list is eligible for a payout for a specific amount of time. For example, an arm may qualify for 312 weeks. A 10% impairment to an arm will qualify for 31.2 weeks of payments.
If your injured body part isn’t on this list, you won’t qualify for a schedule award. So, for example, a back injury isn’t on this list. However, if your back injury affects a covered extremity, you may still meet the requirement if you have substantial medical proof of the connection to the extremity.
2. You haven’t received a prior schedule award
If you’re already receiving an existing federal workers’ compensation schedule award and plan to apply for another award, you may want to think twice. If you apply for a new award that’s less than your current award, the OWCP may deem it an overpayment. And the government may subtract the prior percentage of your past award from your current award.
3. You aren’t already receiving federal workers’ compensation
You cannot receive two types of federal workers’ compensation at the same time. It’s usually not in your best interest to apply for a schedule award while you’re being compensated for a temporary total disability or loss of wage earning capacity. However, in certain situations, you still may want to apply for a schedule award. An experienced federal workers’ compensation attorney can help you make this decision.
4. You aren’t being paid for lost wages
Loss of wage earning compensation (LWEC) is paid to federal workers with a permanent partial work-related injury. Your schedule award would stop the payment of LWEC compensation.
5. You don’t have a pension or a disability insurance policy
If you’re already being paid through disability coverage or a pension, it may make sense to wait until you receive Social Security retirement benefits to apply for a schedule award. Pension and disability insurance payments can offset the majority of your schedule award. And, in most cases, these benefits will be more valuable than your schedule award.
How to get help with filing for a schedule award (or any other federal workers’ compensation)
If you’ve suffered permanent damage to a body part listed on the OWCP schedule and want to apply for a schedule award, be aware that this can be a complex, time-consuming process. You’ll need help from a competent federal workers’ compensation lawyer as well as an experienced physician to complete the required medical paperwork. Going through this process on your own can lead to frustrating roadblocks and denials.
For help determining whether applying for a schedule award is the right course of action, reach out to the seasoned federal workers’ compensation attorneys at Hunter & Everage.