Helping Injured Federal Employees File Workers’ Compensation Claims

If you’re a federal employee, here’s what you need to know about filing a federal workers’ compensation claim—and about how our experienced workers’ compensation lawyers can help you.

What you need to know about the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act

Federal government employees have a unique avenue to obtaining workers’ compensation if they are injured while working. The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) provides workers’ compensation coverage to federal and postal workers who suffer a workplace injury or illness. Benefits provided include wage replacement, medical treatment, and vocational rehabilitation.

Federal workers include individuals from various professions, including law enforcement and first responders, and include individuals employed by the United States Postal Service, the Transportation and Safety Administration, Border Patrol, and the Veterans Administration, among other federal organizations.

The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP), a division of the U.S. Department of Labor, administers federal workers’ compensation. It’s separate from state-administered workers’ compensation programs, and it isn’t subject to state law.

Federal workers frequently experience injuries at work. Some of the most common injuries that may be covered by federal workers’ compensation law include the following:

  • back injuries;
  • knee injuries;
  • neck injuries;
  • slip and fall injuries;
  • repetitive motion injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome;
  • traumatic brain injuries;
  • frozen shoulders;
  • nerve injuries;
  • stress and post-traumatic stress disorders; and
  • aggravation of pre-existing injuries.
  • Remember that only injuries that occur while performing work duties as a federal worker will qualify for workers’ compensation.

How to make a claim for federal workers’ compensation

If you’re an injured federal worker seeking compensation, you need to act quickly to start the process with the OWCP.

These are the first tasks you need to do:

  • Inform your supervisor of your injury on the day it happens or within 10 days of its occurrence. Whenever possible, it’s best to provide written notice of your injuries within 30 days.
  • Complete the necessary forms to notify the OWCP of the injury and begin the compensation process. The OWCP will issue a claim number to your case. This claim number means that your Notice of Injury has been received; it does not mean that your claim has been processed or approved.
    • For a traumatic injury, an injury that happens in one moment during the course of one shift, such as a slip-and-fall or motor vehicle accident, complete a Form CA-1. It must be filed with your employer within 30 days of the date of the injury.
      • Workers who have suffered a traumatic injury should also complete a form CA-16 within the first week after the injury. This form requires the OWCP to pay for all doctor visits and diagnostic tests performed on the injured employee for the first 60 days.
    • For a non-traumatic injury, an injury that develops over more than one shift, such as repetitive injuries from keyboard use or heavy lifting, complete a Form CA-2. It must be filed within 30 days from the time the worker knew or should have known that the injury occurred through workplace activity.
    • For recurrence of a previously accepted condition that has been made worse by an on-the-job injury, complete a Form CA-2a.
  • Request Continuation of Pay (COP) within 30 days. This means you will be paid by your employer for the first 45 days following an injury that occurred at one time or during one shift. Thereafter, the OWCP will begin paying you for your lost wages.
    • File a Form CA-7 to initiate the compensation claim within the first 45 days after the injury to request the OWCP pay wage losses from the 46th day onward.
      • For single workers, wage losses are paid at a rate of 66% of an employee’s average wages for the preceding 52 weeks.
      • For workers with dependents (which includes a spouse), wage losses are paid at 75% of the average wages for the preceding 52 weeks.
    • Your treating physician will complete a Form CA-20 to provide medical information necessary to support the claim of injury and the need for medical treatment.
    • To obtain lost wages, you as the injured worker must use medical evidence to prove that you are unable to perform your job as a result of the condition or injury that occurred while performing federal work duties. Without medical evidence, the claims examiner will likely deny your claim.

Remember that there is a three-year statutory time limitation that begins from the day you were made reasonably aware of your injury.

How to appeal a denial of federal workers’ compensation

Claims examiners at the OWCP often deny valid claims for federal workers’ compensation. If that happens, you have the right to appeal using three different mechanisms. Your choice of appeal mechanism depends on your claim and the type of your appeal, and they each have different timelines.

  • Request for hearing: You must file a request for hearing within 30 days of the OWCP’s written decision. This will likely be a telephone hearing where you can present new evidence.
  • Employee Compensation and Appeals Board (ECAB): You must appeal the denial of your workers’ comp claim to the ECAB within 180 days of the written decision. The ECAB will review evidence that was previously provided to the OWCP, but it will not consider new evidence.
  • Request for reconsideration: You must file a request for reconsideration within one year of the written decision. This will be reviewed by a senior claims examiner who has not previously worked on your claim. You can provide new evidence here.

Why work with an experienced federal workers’ compensation attorney?

As you can see, obtaining or appealing federal workers’ compensation can be a difficult and burdensome process. There are complicated, yet strict, regulations to follow, and you must be prepared to present your claim with full and appropriate documentation so that you don’t risk jeopardizing your benefits.

At Hunter & Everage, we can help you with your federal workers’ compensation claim, no matter where you are in the process. We have experienced lawyers in Richmond, Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina ready to speak with you during a free consultation. Schedule your meeting today by calling our Charlotte office at 704-251-2945 or our Richmond office at 804-297-0838. You can also send us your workers’ compensation questions by email.

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