A COVID-19 infection can prevent you from going to work and rack up medical costs. Fortunately, federal workers who contract COVID-19 on the job may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) provides important rights to federal workers who are injured or contract an illness while on the job. The enactment of the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021 made it easier for federal workers to qualify for COVID-related FECA benefits.
Which employees are covered by the special rule for COVID-related FECA claims?
FECA covers federal civilian employees. This includes, for example, employees who work for the federal agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service, Transportation Security Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, or the U.S. Postal Service.
The special rule for COVID-related FECA claims applies to federal employees who are diagnosed with COVID-19 at any time between January 27, 2020, and January 27, 2023.
What evidence do you need to establish a COVID-related FECA claim?
You will need to show that you were diagnosed with COVID-19 and that you contracted the virus at work.
To establish a diagnosis, you must provide evidence of either a positive test result or a diagnosis from a medical professional. Home test results are not accepted for proving a diagnosis. The best form of proof is a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which is performed in a laboratory.
And to establish that you contracted COVID-19 at work, you only need to show that, within 21 days of your diagnosis or positive COVID-19 test, your work involved either contact with patients, members of the public, or co-workers or a risk of exposure to COVID-19.
That’s it. So, for example, if you worked in the office alongside your co-workers and two weeks later your doctor diagnosed you with COVID-19, you may be able to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
However, you won’t qualify for benefits if you’ve been working exclusively remotely during the 21-day period leading up to your diagnosis.
What types of benefits does FECA provide?
If your FECA claim is successful, you could be entitled to a variety of benefits, including disability compensation, medical services, and survivor benefits.
You might also qualify for continuation of pay (CoP), which means that your employer would continue to pay you at your regular rate of pay during your absence for up to 45 days. To receive COP, you must file your CA-1 form, Federal Notice of Traumatic Injury, right away, because strict deadlines apply.
What if my case of COVID-19 is mild?
Regardless of the severity of your symptoms (or even if your infection is asymptomatic), it’s still important to file a claim. Even mild cases can lead to long COVID or other complications, impairment, or death. Filing your claim on time can ensure that you (or your survivors) will be protected.
Contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer
Hunter & Everage can guide you through the entire claims process and help you get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. Give our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers in Charlotte, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; or Montgomery, Alabama, a call today.