Workers’ Comp for Federal Employees

What benefits can federal employees obtain for work related injuries? Here is a brief overview of the available options.

Long before the United States of America was even a thought, workers’ compensation existed. Historians have found that ancient cultures began to document how injured employees could obtain compensation not long after written language was invented. The king of Ur had a tablet created which listed the amounts in monetary compensation an injured worker could expect for a certain type of injury. Ancient Greeks and Romans also had documents which provided a schedule of benefits under the law. But this type of compensation didn’t make its way into the U.S. until just over 100 years ago.

As the attorneys at The Disability Guys know, for Americans, the first workers compensation law didn’t actually come into play until 1911, after workers had spent decades dealing with the risks and new crop of dangers that the Industrial Revolution brought with it. These initial attempts at worker protection were very limiting compared to what is available today.

What Benefits Can A Federal Employee Obtain For an Injury?

According to the United States Department of Labor, the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act provides benefits to those who have suffered from a personal injury or job-related illness while working as a federal employee.

This includes:

Benefits For Medical Treatments

Compensation will be provided for the necessary medical, surgical, and hospital services provided to the employee due to their injury or illness. There are a few slight restrictions associated with this benefit – the employee initially has the right to choose their physician, however, if that physician has been excluded from participating from the Compensation Program, they will be instructed to seek another opinion. Additionally, except for direct referrals from the original treating physician, the employee may not change doctors without the express approval of the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP).

Temporary Total Disability

If the injury sustained by the employee is serious enough that they are unable to return to work, they may request that they are given their regular pay for a total of 45 days. After this period of time, compensation must be sought through workers’ compensation.

Illnesses are not included in this 45 day extension and workers must apply for workers’ compensation.

Permanent Total Disability

There are specific provisions in the Act which indicate how much an employee may recover in compensation depending on the type of permanent impairment that they have suffered.

Death Benefits

If an employee is killed by the injury or illness that they suffered while on the job, their widow or widower is entitled to compensation up to 50% of the employee’s salary, if they have no children. If there are children, the surviving spouse may obtain 45% of the deceased’s salary and each individual child may obtain 15%.

If there is no spouse, however, there are surviving children, 40% is paid for the oldest child and then 15% for each additional child. These funds will be split evenly between the children.

Can Claims Be Denied?

Yes. Even though workers’ compensation is supposed to cover the employee regardless of who was at fault for their illness or injury, there are a few exceptions to this rule.

Claims may be denied if:

  • The use of drugs or alcohol was the cause of the illness or injury.
  • If the willful misconduct of the employee resulted in their injury or death.
  • If the employee intended to cause their own injury or death.

My Claim Was Denied – What Should I Do?

If your claim has been denied and you believe that it was incorrectly denied, you may request a hearing or a review of the denial. Additional evidence may be presented when the request for review is made.

Additionally, a request that the Employees’ Compensation Appeals Board review the record can be made, however, they cannot review new evidence, only that which is already available on record.

Brian Mittman has been representing injured workers for decades and is devoted to making sure they get the compensation they need to get their lives back on track. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Society of New York Workers’ Compensation Bar Association and the New York Workers’ Compensation Alliance.