When it comes to federal workers’ compensation cases, basically, it’s no longer a matter of state. How so? Well, typically when a worker has an on-the-job injury, state laws determine their potential benefits. But with federal employees — like USPS postal carriers, government workers, and military members — workers’ comp becomes a national situation.
The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) governs how benefits will work for federally employed workers. Because of this, a federal employee will not submit any claims in the state in which they reside. However, all injured federal claimants must follow the same standard procedure to properly submit a claim to the U.S. Department of Labor.
While LegalASAP doesn’t do free lawyer referrals in this arena, we compiled a list of tips to make your federal workers’ compensation claim go smoothly.
Injuries That May Qualify You for Federal Workers’ Compensation Benefits
There are two types of claims that a federal employee can make when applying for federal workers’ compensation benefits.
The first is federal workers’ compensation for a traumatic injury. This is the type of claim you will file if, for example, you fall at work and break a leg. It is an unexpected injury that occurred while performing your usual duties during one shift as an employee. If this fits your situation, then you’ll be looking to file a CA-1 claim form, “Federal Employee’s Notice of Traumatic Injury and Claim for Continuation of Pay/Compensation.”
If, however, you have a work-related disease (such as mesothelioma), then you’ll file federal workers’ compensation for an occupational illness. This is the type of claim you will submit if, for example, you develop cancer after repeated exposure to a carcinogenic toxin at your federal workplace. If this fits your situation, then you’ll be looking to file a CA-2 claim form, “Notice of Occupational Disease and Claim for Compensation.”
Steps for Filing Your Federal Workers’ Compensation Claim
Once you’ve determined your federal workers’ compensation claim category, you can begin. Here are steps you should follow to help you get a positive settlement.
- Report your incident/illness to your supervisor. You should do this immediately, or as soon as you realize there is an issue. If you must get emergency treatment, do so. However, if possible, ask your employer for a CA-16 form to authorize your treatment so you don’t have to pay out of pocket.
- Check to see if your employer allows electronic submissions. If your employing agency has enrolled for electronic submission of forms via the Employees’ Compensation Operations and Management Portal (ECOMP), you may visit the ECOMP site to initiate your claim there.
- Get a medical examination. Be sure to bring the CA-16 form to your doctor, along with a federal health insurance claim form, OWCP-1500.
- File your CA-1 or CA-2 form within 30 days. You must file this form with your employer, directly or through ECOMP. This is especially important if you hope to qualify for Continuation of Pay (COP), which is only available in cases of traumatic injury for up to 45 days.
- Ask your employer for a receipt. Request a receipt of the “Notice of Injury” from your employing agency. Both the CA-1 and CA-2 forms include this. When they return it to you, keep copies in a secure place.
Once you have submitted your forms, your federal agency should then complete their sections and submit the whole packet to the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) district office, where they will determine if there is enough information to adjudicate your claim. The OWCP will assign you a claim number.
Additional Tips for Claimants Submitting a CA-1
If you miss three days of work owing to a traumatic injury, you should apply for lost wages. You may qualify for up to 45 days of full salary, which can help give you appropriate time to recover. After that initial period ends, if you’re still unable to return, you should file a CA-7 form within 10 days. The CA-7 is a request for reduced lost wages. With no dependents you may get two-thirds of your normal salary, and with dependents, three-quarters.
Additional Tips for Claimants Submitting a CA-2
The process of applying for federal workers’ compensation for an occupational disease requires that claimants submit qualifying documentation. Applicants using a CA-2 form should also pay close attention to the checklist on form CA-35, “Evidence Required in Support of a Claim for Occupational Disease.” Having the proper documentation collected ahead of time will only help facilitate the processing of any claims.
What’s the Statute of Limitations for Federal Workers’ Compensation Claims?
The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) provides that a claim for compensation must be filed within three years of the date of injury, or when the claimant becomes aware of a possible relationship between the medical condition and the employment. However, there may be some latitude on the three-year cut-off if the claimant has reported their injury within the initial 30-day window.
Ultimately, there is nothing to prohibit you from filing at any point, but timeliness will be decided by the OWCP when it adjudicates your claim. And, like most things in life, you stand a better chance of a favorable outcome if you show up on time.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Complete your free online workers’ compensation case evaluation now!
Kimberly Dawn Neumann
Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a multi-published NYC-based magazine and book writer whose work has appeared in a wide variety of publications ranging from Forbes to Cosmopolitan. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland, College of Journalism. For more, visit: www.KDNeumann.com, Instagram @dancerscribe, and Twitter @KimberlyNeumann