Research Notes

WILG FECA Section Concludes Seminar in DC; NRP Class Action Discrimination Damage Claims Proceed

Last month, WILG FECA Section members from around the country, including me, met in Washington, DC for a seminar that included a presentation by the Chief Judge and an Associate Judge of the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB).  The judges gave updates on what is happening at the Board, as well as pointers to practitioners on how to best draft their appeals.

We were not able this year to meet with OWCP (U. S. Department of Labor Office of Workers' Compensation Programs) leaders in Washington, as many of them were out of town for training.  We did, however, have seminar participation by high-ranking officials of DOL's Solicitor's Office, who came and gave a presentation on coordination between FECA benefits and third-party (tort) recoveries for the same injury.

WILG's FECA Section leaders, including my partner Daniel Goodkin, continue their frequent contacts with OWCP District Directors and other OWCP officials in various regions of the country. These contacts have proven helpful when dealing with claims adjudication problems where there appears to be a clear violation of FECA regulations or procedures.  Mr. Goodkin is Co-Chair of the WILG FECA Section.

Meanwhile, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Administrative Judge in New York who is in charge of the McConnell case -- the National Reassessment Process (NRP) class action -- is holding monthly status conferences in her attempt to move these thousands of cases along. Our office is representing twenty (20) of the approximately 30,000 claimants in this matter, and is actively pursuing remedies for them. The case involves disability discrimination by the U. S. Postal Service against industrially-injured postal workers. This discrimination took various forms - denials of reasonable accommodation, forced resignations/retirements, hostile work environments, improper release of personal medical information, etc.

The Postal Service has already lost the liability phase, and we are now in the remedy phase. The Postal Service initially denied nearly all of these damage claims, but the EEOC voided all those denials and required the Postal Service to state the grounds for the denial of each claim and present all relevant evidence in its possession when doing so.  Instead, the Postal Service issued blanket denials again, most without any evidence attached. Currently there is a motion pending for sanctions about this, as well as a motion again requiring the Postal Service to produce all relevant evidence it has on each claim. The next scheduled status conference will be held on 05/13/2019.


NOTE: I also represented the WILG FECA Section last month on Capitol Hill in meetings with Congressional legislative staff to discuss upcoming issues affecting FECA.  In particular, it is anticipated there will be yet another legislative proposal for reform of the Postal Service this year, and those packages in the past have typically included provisions making substantial changes to FECA.  We will keep you informed of any developments in this area.

Posted in FECA, OWCP

WILG continues meeting with USDOL and OPM decision-makers

In mid-April, my partner Dan Goodkin and I, as members of the FECA [Federal Employees' Compensation Act] Section of WILG [Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group] traveled to Washington, DC for what are now our annual meetings with top officials at OWCP [U. S Department of Labor, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs] and ECAB [U. S Department of Labor, Employees' Compensation Appeals Board].

The first of these meetings Dan and I attended was held in October 2015, and now they encompass productive give-and-take discussions between the FECA claimants' bar (the vast majority of whom are members of WILG) and the decision-makers who manage FECA -- the only workers' compensation program that covers the approximately 3 million federal civilian employees. Dan attended as co-chair of the FECA Section, and I attended as a member of WILG's Federal Legislative Committee. Over time we have also added meetings at the U. S. Office of Personnel Management [OPM] with top officials there who manage the system of retirement benefits for federal employees, as well as meetings with interested parties on Capitol Hill.

At OWCP we expressed our appreciation for the openness with which we have been met at various OWCP offices and the dialog that has developed. Topics discussed included ways to improve communication between OWCP and claimant's attorneys in terms of the latter being copied on the complicated earnings questionnaires sent to our clients, and our being able to talk to OWCP nurse case managers, We also discussed what level of proof is required to exclude a medical examiner as biased against the injured worker, and what additional efforts OWCP should make to develop the record in emotional stress cases. Finally, we pointed out the problem that OWCP hearing representatives frequently do not address the legal arguments or the testimony presented at hearings when they issue their decisions, which of course leaves one to wonder what law applies and what facts were considered relevant. While agreement was not reached on all issues, inroads were made and we expect some changes soon. We invited OWCP personnel to attend WILG's annual convention in the Fall, as they have at our invitation for the last two years; their appearances and presentations have been well received and appreciated.

We also met with the Chairman and Chief Judge of ECAB, and are following up with him on topics such as the need for ECAB to issue final decisions, simplification of some appeals processes including attorney fee approvals, transcripts of oral arguments made before the Board, etc.

At OPM, we complimented the officials on the informal mechanisms we've been able to establish to correct errors specifically in disability retirement cases. Federal employees who become disabled after being in the job a sufficient length of time can retire early if their disability -- whether work-related or not -- is permanent and either renders them unable to perform their duties or is incompatible with useful and efficient service in the job. Benefits in such cases are less than workers' compensation and are taxable, but are payable in full even if the worker is able to obtain a lower-paying non-federal job.

On Capitol Hill, we joined other WILG members in lobbying for the interests of injured workers, including protection of workers' compensation benefits and hard-won federal employee job security and due process rights. In this age of hyper-partisanship, the value of having a professional federal civil service free from compromising political manipulation is perhaps greater than ever.

NOTE: The House Committee on Education & the Workforce held a hearing on May 8, 2018 on the subject of OWCP's response to the opioid crisis as it relates to injured federal employees covered under FECA. The general consensus of the witnesses was that, despite some changes initiated last August, FECA is behind the times in this regard, with insufficient policies and procedures to control over-prescription of opioid medications. We will keep you informed of developments on this issue.

Posted in Blog, FECA, OWCP

Unpredictability of OWCP decisions in FECA claims creates uncertainty that hurts productivity and employee morale.

In our practice representing federal employees, we find it is one thing to know the law and quite another to watch how it is administered.

This is particularly true in the area of FECA - workers' compensation claims for federal employees under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act. We have written recently about the problem of administrative decisions that seem to make no sense, logically or legally, but which can nevertheless have devastating effects on our clients. This is especially true where the administrative process violates basic constitutional principles of due process of law. Here are a few recent examples of practices by the U. S. Department of Labor (USDOL) and its Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) that thwart the purposes of the law.

  • Case #1: OWCP recognized that an injured worker was entitled to an award for permanent partial loss of use of his arm, but the claims examiner refused to process the payment because the worker was also entitled to awards for other body parts, and those awards had not yet been calculated. The claims person said he wanted to "process them all at the same time" -- but meanwhile the injured worker gets paid nothing (with no interest or penalty for the delay).
  • Case #2: OWCP's message system created havoc. The system allows a caller to leave a voicemail with details of the client, case number, and reason for the call. But when attorneys leave such messages, OWCP claims examiners don't bother to listen to them, instead opting to just call up the injured worker. The worker, of course, isn't always aware of the call or why it was placed; so the worker gets panicked and confused and the claims examiner wastes time.
  • Case #3: OWCP accepted a claim but refused to pay lost wage benefits for periods when the client was on (unpaid) Family Medical Act leave. The law says wage loss benefits can't be paid for periods when the worker is on paid leave, but this distinction is somehow lost on the claims examiner.
  • Case #4: OWCP accepted a claim and was paying wage-loss benefits for 6 hours per day for periods after the employer offered light duty for 2 hours per day. A claim for total (8 hours per day) wage-loss benefits for prior time off was denied on the basis that the employer made the light duty job offer and the employee rejected it -- but it's obvious that that job offer was not made until after the period in question so the employee could not possibly have rejected it..
  • Case #5: In a related type of case that seems to be recurring more often, OWCP accepts a claim but refuses to pay wage-loss benefits on the basis that the employer - after the fact - says it "would have" made a job offer earlier. In several such cases, the injured worker provides documentation that s/he asked for work repeatedly, only to be ignored or turned down by the same employer; but the OWCP claims examiner always seems to believe the employer's self-serving statements in this situation. Result: lost wage benefits are denied in violation of the law, based on obviously flawed logic.

Do these practices seem fair to you? In my opinion these claims-handling methods do not assist in reaching a fair resolution for any stakeholders in the system and cannot be justified. They create unnecessary financial hardship in a system that does not provide for interest or attorney fees to be added to benefits when payments are delayed. Employees hear about them and lose confidence they will be compensated if they get injured. Employers see opportunities to "game the system" and take advantage. Claims handling procedures are well beyond the reach of the courts, which have no jurisdiction even over challenges to formal decisions in such cases. When there is no incentive for the government's self-insured system to work properly, and no real accountability for OWCP employees using such tactics, there is no adequate remedy for the injured worker.

NOTE: Congress recently passed laws that limit the civil service rights of VA employees. Many feel such changes are the "tip of the iceberg", signaling similar erosion of federal employee rights generally. The problem, of course, is that federal employees do important work for the country and must be shielded from the whims of the current political climate -- regardless of which party is in power.

Posted in Blog, FECA, OWCP

OWCP clarifies schedule award procedures

OWCP clarifies schedule award procedures, including how pre-existing or nonindustrial medical conditions affect these important permanent disability awards.

There have been persistent problems in Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA - workers' compensation for federal employees) cases in the amount of awards for permanent impairments.  Under the law, there is no "apportionment" - that is, if the employment contributed to any degree to the medical condition causing the disability, the entire disability is covered in full.

But OWCP claims examiners and their examining physicians have for years been calculating some awards based only on the work-related portion of the disability or impairment.  For example, a worker with pre-existing arthritis in his right knee who injures it at work, requires surgery for a torn meniscus, and now has more knee impairment due to both medical conditions would be incorrectly evaluated with regard to the surgical result only, ignoring the arthritis which is also affecting his knee and contributing to a higher level of impairment.

That has never been correct, and has resulted in large numbers of appeals that had to be filed just to point out that there is no apportionment in these cases and therefore the awards should be higher. After repeated complaints about this from our office and others, USDOL has finally clarified the issue.

In FECA Transmittal No. 17-02 issued on March 24, 2017, OWCP revised its Procedure Manual to clarify a number of things regarding permanent disability schedule awards:

  1. When OWCP's District Medical Advisor ("DMA" -a doctor) disagrees with its Second Opinion doctor on an issue, this disagreement doesn't create a conflict in medical evidence requiring yet another evaluation.
  2. When OWCP has already sent the injured worker to a referee (independent) medical examiner, there is no need for the government to have the DMA review the referee's opinion.  Referees see injured workers where the treating doctor and the government 's doctor disagree  This change only applies, however, when the referee's report fully resolves the earlier conflict in medical opinions and provides a through explanation of the medical impairment.
  3. There are no provisions for apportionment in FECA, so impairment ratings should include both work-related and non-work-related impairments to the affected body part.

The third item above is the most important one.  This should result in larger and more timely schedule awards for injured federal workers where, before, errors had been made in the award calculation that resulted in appeals and other challenges.  If the awards are going to be calculated correctly, we can avoid costly appeals and the correct (higher) amount of benefits can be paid in a timely manner.

Further, this change clarifies that the disability rating must include all conditions affecting the affected body part as of the time of the rating examination.  This means that, theoretically, a worker could suffer another injury after the industrial one but before the rating exam, and the effects of that extra injury would also have to be included in the rating. It also means that the effects of any other non-industrial injuries have to be included in the rating as well.


All this makes sense administratively in a non-adversarial system. Litigation in other workers' compensation systems is often complicated by the need to apportion disabilities, ascribing a percentage to different causes -- but those are adversarial systems where both sides have attorneys and a judge makes the decision. FECA is not designed as an adversarial system that could handle such disputes. It also of course makes sense legally, since the rule against apportionment means there is no need to attribute percentages to the various causes. Practically speaking, it is difficult anyway for a doctor to determine how much the knee (in the above example) was affected by more than one cause.

The other two items above are unobjectionable and should result in faster adjudication of such claims.  Considering how slow OWCP is to finalize so many actions on FECA claims, this could speed up some claims.

There are other types of awards for permanent injuries in FECA claims, including lost wage benefits for both total and partial disability, but those are not affected by this change in the Procedure Manual.

NOTE: So far, the new Congress has not made any legislative proposals affecting FECA. We will continue to monitor this situation and report on any developments.

Posted in Blog, FECA

FECA practitioners merge into one unified bar group

At the annual convention of WILG (Workers' Injury Lw and Advocacy Group) in Arizona last month, the country's two groups of attorneys who represent FECA (Federal Employees' Compensation Act) claimants completed their merger and became one group - the FECA Section of WILG.  WILG is the nation's only "stand-alone" professional association of attorneys who represent injured workers in their workers' compensation claims. WILG has well over 1,000 members, and members practicing workers' compensation law in every state and in every federal jurisdiction.

The significance of this development is that, for the first time, the interests of injured federal workers can be spoken for with one voice -- that being a voice with a presence on Capitol Hill and an ongoing dialog with those at the U. S. Department of Labor who run the FECA system.

At the Arizona convention, FECA attorneys from across the country assembled, gave presentations, and interacted with other stakeholders in the FECA system, including two representatives of the USDOL National Office from Washington, DC, a local Arizona doctor involved in these cases, and a federal employee union leader also from DC.

Topics covered on FECA included a review of the year's most significant cases handed down by the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB), hearings and appeals procedures, the role of unions in FECA, medical issues, attorney fees, financial planning for federal employees, the Renzi case, and a "report from the inside" presented by high-level USDOL personnel.

My partner Daniel Goodkin presented a detailed statistical analysis of ECAB decisions issued over the last two years, showing alarming trends which have been discussed here in prior newsletters (e.g., treating doctors never being given the benefit of the doubt over the government's Second Opinion doctors).  I presented a summary of developments in DC regarding FECA, including legislative proposals and my meetings with USDOL personnel this year.

Dan and I also received Special Recognition Awards from WILG for our work on behalf of the FECA Section, including the merger mentioned above.

NOTE 1: OWCP has taken some action on the compounded medications issue mentioned in our last newsletter, and is planning to do more. Word is that they will follow the lead of other insurers like TriCare and impose limitations on payments for these personalized medications in light of both their extremely high cost and serious questions about their medical efficacy.

NOTE 2: A recent ECAB case in which the Board's majority did not rule in favor of the claim, but in which Chief Judge Christopher Godfrey issued a strongly-worded dissent, got top billing on the ECAB review segment -- more on that case later.

Posted in Blog, FECA

Yet another “headscratcher” decision is issued by the U. S. Department of Labor (USDOL) in its Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) program.

Yet another "headscratcher" decision is issued by the U. S. Department of Labor (USDOL) in its Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) program.

You may recall one of our earlier newsletters in which I discussed a strange decision by USDOL/OWCP that revealed its misapplication of an American Medical Association publication (a newsletter article) to FECA claims, resulting in smaller benefits being paid to injured workers.  As stated in our newsletter, we filed a request for reconsideration to challenge OWCP's mistake.

In an even stranger twist, OWCP has now "doubled down" on its mistake, forcing the matter to the appellate level at the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB).  In an OWCP decision dated 03/15/2016, the previously-awarded 3% permanent impairment rating for the worker's permanent partial loss of use of each leg, initially issued on 03/25/2015, was simply reissued with a new date, and with these comments:

"[OWCP's Second Opinion doctor's] response [to OWCP's non-examining District Medical Advisor - DMA] indicated a disagreement with the DMA on the basis of the use of the July/August 2009 [AMA Guides] Newsletter as the guide for you [sic] impairment rating. This disagreement was found to be irrelevant because the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) Procedure Manual (PM) directs the use of this newsletter as the guideline for impairment calculations of your specific type for schedule award payments in the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs [emphasis added]."

OWCP's Procedure Manual does not have the force of a law or a regulation, and cannot override those legal authorities.  Curiously, in an earlier paragraph of the same decision, OWCP states: "The implementing regulations have adopted the American Medical Association, Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, as the appropriate standard for evaluating schedule losses.  Currently, schedule awards are calculated using the Sixth Edition of the AMA Guides."  That Edition does not include the newsletter's way of calculating impairments. ...

As already proven to OWCP, the AMA specifically does not accept the "proposal" contained in their newsletter as authoritative, so they never adopted it nor did they amend the Guides to include it.  For that reason, OWCP's own Second Opinion doctor rated the impairment in this case based on the AMA Guides themselves, not the newsletter. But since application of the calculation method contained in the newsletter will result in lower benefit payments, OWCP simply adopted it anyway for its own purposes - regardless of whether it is medically correct.

And so it goes when dealing with an agency whose decisions are not subject to judicial review.  We are preparing our ECAB appeal.

NOTE: Legislative proposals affecting FECA remain in the hopper in both houses of Congress, but no action has been taken on them.

Posted in Blog, FECA

Without telling anyone, USDOL institutes an unjustified rule that disadvantages injured workers covered by the FECA program

We have discovered a highly questionable policy change by USDOL's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) regarding the way it calculates certain permanent disability benefits under FECA (workers' compensation for federal employees).

This discovery came about because last September a doctor treating one of our clients protested to OWCP that they were instructing him incorrectly on how to "rate" our client's leg disability.

Permanent "scheduled" disability ratings to certain parts of the body (e.g. arms and legs) under FECA must be calculated according to he American Medical Association's Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 6th Edition (2008).  The doctor in the case in question used those Guides last year to rate the permanent impairment to both of our client's legs, but OWCP told him he needed to instead use a calculation based on another AMA publication called "The Guides Newsletter".  An article in that newsletter's July/August 2009 issue, written by a doctor who was the Senior Contributing Editor of the Guides themselves, proposed a different way to rate the same disability, and OWCP told the doctor to use that method instead. In fact, OWCP had quietly incorporated this newsletter article into its Federal (FECA) Procedure Manual provisions about how to rate this type of disability.

The only problem was that the disability rating according to the established Guides was 10%, whereas the rating according to this newsletter was 2%.   The doctor protested and said the newsletter was just a proposed method of calculating disabilities, and asked why he shouldn't use the Guides -- which had been officially adopted by OWCP effective May 1, 2009 as the correct method of rating these disabilities. Meanwhile the Guides

themselves have not been amended to authorize use of this new method. OWCP refused to alter its position, and paid the 2% award to our client.

So we wrote to the AMA and asked whether the newsletter method had been accepted by the AMA as an amendment to the Guides.  The AMA wrote back and said no, the newsletter's method was only a proposal that was never adopted by the AMA.

What's wrong with this picture?  By simply adopting the newsletter's way of calculating (and lowering) these permanent disability benefits, without even checking with the AMA to see if this new rating method had ever been adopted by the AMA, OWCP showed its desire to pay less-than-fair benefits to injured workers for no good reason.  And its actions certainly are contrary to the spirit of FECA, which is supposed to be a non-adversarial system that must be interpreted liberally in favor of the claimant. At this point there is no telling how many injured workers have been hurt by this practice.

We have asked OWCP to answer questions about this whole matter, and we intend to challenge the 2% award issued in our client's case.

NOTE:  S.2051, the current Postal Reform bill, has been introduced in the Senate and a hearing on it was held last week.  WILG is opposed to many of the provisions of this law that affect FECA, since they reduce benefits, create cost-shifting to other programs, and are generally ill-advised.  We understand that the bill's sponsor, Senator Tom Carper, intends to introduce a stand-alone FECA bill with the same provisions shortly.  We will keep you advised about these developments.

Posted in Blog, FECA

ECAB continues to issue outrageous decisions rejecting medical reports as “not rationalized” in FECA claims.

In FECA (federal workers' compensation) claims, the highest legal authority for claims decisions is the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB). Yet that Board in the last few years has made a practice of upholding improper claim denials by the U. S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) that are based on the bogus assertion that the injured worker's doctor's medical report is not "rationalized".  There is no question but that a rationalized medical report, stating there is a causal relationship between a work injury and the disabling medical condition(s), is necessary for a claim to be approved and paid.  But both OWCP and ECAB have made a practice of falsely claiming there is no medical rationale when clearly there is, resulting in denial of claims that should be approved and leaving the injured worker with little justice. This has contributed to an alarming pattern (see results of statistical study, below) of claim denials that are totally unjustified by any standard of fairness.

For example in a recent case filed by our office, an employee injured her back bending down to pick up something at work, resulting in a trip to the ER and subsequent surgery. The injured worker's treating doctor stated: "Concerning the [injury from bending over at work] any movement that requires bending at the waist puts the lumbar spine at a disadvantage. This shifts the fulcrum of the weight to the lumbar spine and the paraspinal musculature versus being on the larger joints and muscles of the pelvis. This change of force in my medical opinion exacerbated her underlying pathology [history of lumbar spine disease with prior surgery] causing the disc herniation.  Concerning the need for repeat surgery, there is a known 15 percent to 20 percent risk of repeat disc herniation after any microdiscocetomy procedure. With the patient's predisposing factors and history of multiple lumbar surgeries and collapse of the disc space, it was deemed appropriate to proceed with a decompression and fusion to treat the patient's symptoms and prevent recurrence of her symptoms at that time."

In spite of the doctor's discussion of how the work injury caused the disability and need for surgery, OWCP found the report was "not supported by medical rationale containing an explanation of the nature of the relationship between her diagnosed condition and [the work injury]."  On appeal to ECAB, the Board agreed with OWCP that the evidence was insufficient, recently holding that "While none of the reports of the [worker's] physicians were [sic] completely rationalized, they are consistent in indicating that [she] sustained employment-related injuries ... and are not contradicted by any medical evidence of record. Therefore, while the reports are not sufficient to meet [the worker's] burden of proof to establish her claim, they raise an uncontroverted inference between her claimed conditions and the employment incident of [date], and are sufficient to require OWCP to further develop the medical evidence."

In so holding, the Board (1) falsely stated the treating doctor's reports were not "rationalized" - they certainly were; and (2) ruled that the quoted report could never be considered sufficient for the purpose of accepting the claim.  The result is that now OWCP must send this injured worker to another doctor - one that it chooses - whose report will likely be considered "rationalized" and the claim will be denied again.

The irony of this situation - as pointed out by one of our colleagues - is that the ECAB decision holding that the treating doctor's reports are not "rationalized" is itself not rationalized. It is clearly nonsense to state that this detailed medical report from the worker's doctor is not "rationalized", as can be seen by simply reading it. Since every FECA claim must include rationalized medical evidence, by using this logical sleight-of-hand OWCP and ECAB can blithely deny innumerable claims that are clearly valid by simply stating - without any actual rationale - that the medical evidence lacks "rationale". This is not a "one-off" occurrence, as we have seen this same problem arise over and over again.

Our office has recently concluded a study of all ECAB decisions issued between June 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015 (a 13-month period).  Our study reveals that of the 1,936 appeals decided by the Board during that period, 463 (23.9%) were reversed or "remanded" (sent back) to OWCP for a new decision - in effect canceling the OWCP decision and requiring issuance of a new decision.  But of those that were reversed or remanded not a single ECAB decision overturned an OWCP claim denial based on alleged lack of medical "rationale".  In other words, OWCP is free to improperly deny claims on this bogus ground, without fear of being overruled (much less, rebuked) by ECAB.  Despite this "stacked deck", we and our colleagues are able to ultimately prevail in many such cases, but often this occurs after delays at OWCP and ECAB that should never have happened.

In a supposedly non-adversarial system with no judicial review, these ECAB decisions are outrageous and call for a study by Congressional and Senate oversight committees.

Posted in Blog, FECA, OWCP

Sometimes Less is More – FECA and FERS

Sometimes Less is More - FECA and FERSOne common misconception is that if one is receiving benefits under FECA that there is no reason to apply for FERS disability. The reason people believe that is because one cannot receive FERS benefits while receiving FECA wage-loss benefits. In almost every situation, it makes sense for an injured worker to file for FERS or CSRS. The primary reason for this is that one can become entitled to FERS/CSRS while continuing to receive benefits under FECA. The FERS/CSRS benefit can come into play in a variety of situations. The first is if OWCP determines that a work-related injury has healed or is not causing any disability. This commonly occurs after a second opinion examiner determines that the claimant's problems are related to age and that the industrial injury no longer plays any role in the claimant's disability. This can happen at any time, sometimes even after decades of a claimant receiving benefits under FECA. Having something to fall back on is very valuable.

In addition, under FERS/CSRS, one can make up to 80% of the current pay rate of the position they retired from and retain his or her annuity. OWCP takes a dollar for dollar deduction if an injured worker returns to work. Sometimes, injured workers can resume some sort of employment, even if it is part time or doing something other than what they did for the government. Even a moderate salary from private employment coupled with a disability retirement annuity can exceed that which one would get from workers comp. Lastly, if one is eligible for FERS, and they have an injury that would entitle them to a schedule award, they can receive both the schedule award and the annuity from FERS/CSRS at the same time. The bottom line is, don't dismiss FERS/CSRS simply because you are receiving wage loss comepnsation from OWCP. An employee can file at any time that they remain on the agency rolls and must file within one year of separation . There are almost no exceptions to the one year requirement, so make sure to get it done in that time frame.

Posted in Blog, FECA Tagged with: , , , ,

Honesty is the Only Policy in FECA cases

Honesty is the Only Policy in FECA casesOne of the hardest problems for us to address in FECA cases is when a client has convinced his or her doctor to put in writing that the client can go back to work without restrictions, even when the doctor does not believe they should. This is always done because the client is afraid to lose his or her job or because the client is experiencing an extreme financial hardship and would rather work in pain or cause further injury to themselves than to not have an income. While this is certainly understandable, it can lead to an almost unfixable problem if the client is then unable to continue working without restrictions.

The client is then in the position of having to argue to OWCP that the client got his or her doctor to lie for them in writing regarding the client's work capabilities, or they have to show that there has been some material change in his or her condition which occurred after the return to work.  Please be honest with your doctor and make sure they are honest with you and with OWCP with regard to your work restrictions. Thus, a short term fix can lead to a long term problem.

Posted in Blog, FECA, OWCP Tagged with: , , , ,