To be succinct, OWCP workers comp covers federal workers only. State workers comp covers all other types of workers.
If you are a federal employee, it’s essential to know your OWCP workers comp rights. This article will lay out the basics, so you know what to do if you are injured at work.
What is OWCP Workers Comp?
OWCP workers comp is overseen by the Department of Labor and administered by the Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP). It differs from state workers comp because it provides compensation for civilian government workers. State workers comp covers all other workers.
Both OWCP workers comp and state workers comp cover workers’ lost wages and medical expenses in the event of an injury or illness. But there are key differences other than the type of workers the plan covers. They include:
Both state workers comp and OWCP workers comp allow workers to choose a physician within the insurance network. If a new physician is required, or if the worker requests one, an authorization process is needed. With federal workers comp, the OWCP must approve the new physician.
Temporary Total Disability
Temporary total disability (TTD) covers your wages if you are unable to work while you are recovering from your illness or injury. It differs from temporary partial disability (TPD) payments that cover you if you can do some work while you are recovering. Employees typically receive 2/3 of their wages on TTD.
Federal employees may receive TTD payments for up to 45 days. If their disability lasts more than 45 days, they must use their sick days and annual pay to cover lost wages. They will also receive a reduced pay rate.
This process differs from state workers comp which allows workers to continue collecting TTD until they are approved to go back to work (whether in full or partial capacity) or until they reach maximum medical improvement (MMI).
If the federal employee’s disability is permanent, they will receive a cash settlement. The settlement amount will be based on the loss of earning capacity, the extent of the injury or illness, and the type of disability.
The basis for state worker’s comp settlement amounts varies from state to state. Some will base it on the worker’s salary. Other states use other factors to calculate the settlement.
State worker’s comp protects employers so employees don’t sue if they are injured on the job. However, there are some instances where an employee can sue. For example, if the employer’s negligence caused the incident, the worker may have a case against them.
With OWCP worker’s comp, workers are unable to sue the government regardless of the circumstances. However, they can sue a third party that may have contributed to the injury.
Who is Covered Under OWCP Workers Comp?
OWCP workers comp covers all civilian federal employees. Contract employees, loaned employees, and volunteers may be covered under certain circumstances.
Non-civilian federal government workers, AKA members of the military, are not covered by federal workers comp. If they are injured on the job, they will usually apply for compensation through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. However, in some cases, the military will provide coverage.
How Do Federal Employees File an OWCP Workers Comp Claim?
Federal employees can file a claim by filling out one of two forms:
- CA-1: The Federal Employee’s Notice of Traumatic Injury and Claim for Continuation of Pay/Compensation which covers injuries sustained on the job
- CA-2: The “Notice of Occupational Disease and Claim for Compensation” which covers diseases that developed due to work conditions
The forms can be electronically submitted through the Employees’ Compensation Operations and Management Portal (ECOMP) website.
Is There a Timeline for Filing an OWCP Claim?
Employees must file an OWCP claim within three years of the injury. In the case of a traumatic injury, the clock will start running the day the injury happened. In the case of a disease, the clock will start running on the date the worker became aware of the diagnosis.
Workers may still receive compensation if they do not file within 3 years if there is written documentation that notes when the injury occurred.
How Do Workers Receive Compensation for Lost Wages When Filing an OWCP Workers Comp Claim?
Workers who cannot return to work while recovering will attain Leave Without Pay (LWOP) status. They must file a CA-7 Claims for Compensation form on the ECOMP website to receive compensation for lost wages. The form must be submitted to and completed by their agency. Then the worker must submit the form, along with medical documentation that proves their claim, to the OWCP.
If the period claimed on the CA-7 form is intermittent, they must also complete a CA-7a “Time Analysis Form”.
What Can I Do If My OWCP Workers Comp Claim is Denied?
There are several reasons why an OWCP workers comp claim may be denied. The most common is a lack of medical evidence.
If your claim is denied, you may file an appeal to the Employees Compensation Appeals Board or the Branch of Hearings and Review. You may also file a request for reconsideration with the district office.
You must present compelling evidence that proves your case was wrongly denied. You may also attend an oral hearing in front of a Hearing Representative from outside the District Office. They will provide an impartial ruling on your case.
OWCP workers comp can be complicated to navigate. Once you understand what’s involved, you can apply for the compensation required. Good luck getting the coverage you need.