What Is Federal Workers’ Compensation?
Do you work as a federal employee for the government? Then you should know how workers’ compensation regulations differ for you. The Federal Employees Compensation Act handles damages for federal workers injured, disabled or killed during their duties. No matter how long you have worked as a federal employee or what position you fill, you qualify for federal workers’ comp. It doesn’t matter if you recently sustained an injury on the clock or just want to know how workers’ comp works. You should educate yourself on how to file a workers’ comp claim. Understand how your benefits and rights differ from non-federal employees.
What Does Federal Workers’ Comp Cover?
Specific federal workers’ comp benefits include vocational rehabilitation services for partially disabled workers, wage loss compensation, out-of-pocket expenses and medical expenses coverage. As a federal worker, you have the right to choose your initial medical provider. However, the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) must give you the go-ahead.
If you cannot work because of your injury, then your agency continues to pay your wages for 45 days from your injury date. After that, you receive reduced pay for your lost wages. If you have at least one dependent, you receive three-fourths of your regular wages. If you do not have any dependents, you are entitled to two-thirds of your regular wages.
Some workplace injuries render federal employees unable to work again. Under such circumstances, those impacted could qualify for loss of earning capacity benefits. You can learn about this by knowing the difference between short term and long term disability. Typically this benefit covers the difference between what individuals earned before being injured and what they can earn after the injury. The OWCP determines such benefits by calculating loss of earning capacity, permanent loss type and the specific damage or loss of specific organs, body parts or bodily functions.
Maybe an injury allows you to work, but you suffered the permanent loss of a bodily function or body part. If so, you qualify for lost wage benefits and a cash settlement. This is referred to as a “schedule award”. Such extensive injuries may require help from a home health aide or similar assistance. If they do, the injured party could qualify for a monthly attendant allowance that totals as much as $1,500 to help pay for necessary help.
How Does One Qualify for Federal Workers’ Compensation?
Just like not all injuries qualify for workers’ comp coverage for non-federal employees, the same applies for government workers. For instance, if you sustained your injury while intoxicated, while engaging in intentional misconduct or because of a purposeful intention to hurt other people or yourself, expect a denial for your workers’ comp claim.
There are also instances wherein federal workers succumb to their injuries. The surviving dependents of government employees killed on the job can receive financial benefits. Examples of dependents include:
- Fully dependent parent or grandparent
- Children younger than 18
If the deceased’s dependent child is over 18 but has physical or mental disabilities, she or he could receive survivor benefits. The same applies to dependent children over the age of 18 who are full-time students, but they only receive benefits until they turn 23.
What Is the Right Way To File a Federal Workers’ Comp Claim?
As with any insurance type, there is a right way to file a federal workers’ comp claim to better ensure approval. When you first suspect that you sustained an injury, let your supervisor know. You may have to receive immediate medical attention, which may require calling 911. Next, fill out a Federal Employees’ Notice of Traumatic Injury and Claim for Continuation of Pay/Compensation form. If you think you fell prey to a disease on the job rather than an injury, complete a Notice of Occupational Disease and Claim for Compensation.
Turn your forms over to your employer, and keep copies for your personal records. Expect a regional office representative to look into your claim. They’ll communicate via letter if there is enough evidence to continue the compensation process. Be prepared to submit more details, doing so as quickly as possible to keep things moving apace. You could receive a claim denial, and you have the right to appeal the decision.
If you receive a claim approval, look for a physician to treat your injury or disease. While you can choose your doctor, the medical professional you select should know about federal workers’ comp paperwork and procedures.
What if you do not immediately notice your injury or disease? You have 30 days from your injury date to start the claim process. Therefore, do not take any suspicions you harbor for granted. At the very least, share your concerns with a doctor; have her look you over for symptoms of injury or disease.
Can You Sue Your Federal Employer?
You may feel that your government employer mishandled your injury claim or that employer negligence contributed to your condition. Unfortunately, you cannot sue the federal government or its agencies for negligence, even if it was another employee who injured you. Federal statutes protect the government and its associated agencies from liability. That said, in the private sector, injured employees sometimes may not only file a workers’ comp claim, but also sue their employer.
Can You Sue a Responsible Third Party?
Say that you become injured because of a non-government third party’s negligence. A postal worker could suffer injuries after being hit by a drunk driver while delivering mail. Here, the postal worker could not only file for federal workers’ comp but also sue the drunk driver.
Federal workers who sue a responsible third party must realize that such legal actions often take years to settle or go to trial. That means it may take more time to receive damages. In the meantime, federal workers’ comp handles the resulting medical bills. Should the third-party suit prove successful, the federal worker must pay back the federal workers’ comp system for all received payments.
Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer
Even if a third party was not responsible for your injuries, you may need a legal professional’s help to navigate your claim. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!