Understanding the Basics of the Federal Workers' Compensation System
The Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) provides workers' compensation coverage to federal and postal workers around the world who have suffered a workplace injury or illness. Those covered under FECA include civilian government employees, such as those who work for the Transportation and Safety Administration, Border Patrol, Veterans Administration and countless other such entities.
The Federal Workers' Compensation system differs from the widely variable state Workers' Compensation systems in many ways, including the following.
Federal Workers' Compensation Benefits
- All Federal Workers' Compensation cases are managed by the Department of Labor (DOL). No third-party administrator is involved.
- In a case of a partial disability, where a physician says that the employee can return to work for a limited period of time per shift, the DOL will make up the reduced-work hours by paying two-thirds or three-quarters of the gross pay, based on whether or not the injured worker has a dependent.
- Federal employees receive 45 days of regular pay by the employer early in traumatic injury claims.
- Injured federal employees cannot refuse suitable part-time or lower paying jobs.
Medical Treatment in Federal Workers' Compensation Cases
- Although there is no system in place mandating Utilization Review, a federal employee injured at work will often have to see a physician for a second opinion for confirmation of the injury.
- In terms of medical benefits, there are no liens allowed.
- The DOL routinely requests a second opinion even in cases where the need for medical treatment is thoroughly documented.
- There is no judicial review of the DOL findings.
- There is no distinction made between psychological/psychiatric injuries and those of a physical nature in terms of apportionment. If a work event contributed—even in a very limited way—to the medical condition that is causing the disability, it is considered a consequence of the job. There is no percentage of what is work-related and what percentage is caused by sources outside of the workplace.
Because the Federal Workers' Compensation system is a complicated one, it is wise to have an experienced, knowledgeable Federal Workers' Compensation attorney on your side to help ensure you receive the full range of benefits to which you are entitled.