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Selecting the Right Federal Disability Attorney for FECA Claims

Daniel M. Goodkin Feb. 20, 2013

For an injured federal worker, selecting a competent and experienced attorney can make the difference between acceptance and rejection of a claim. There are very few attorneys nationwide who have experience in handling a worker's compensation claim for an injured federal employee and even fewer who specialize in doing so. There are significant differences between state workers' compensation claims under state law and federal workers compensation claims under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act. For example, there is no apportionment under FECA and there are no court appearances. Attorneys who are not accustomed to representing injured federal workers will likely not know how to handle filing initial claims let alone responding to denial letters.

There are many nuances to getting a claim accepted, including making sure that the injured workers treating physician does not use any speculative language, such as probably or could be. These terms are frequently used by physicians and acceptable in many areas of law - just not under FECA. Another example of a difference between state and federal workers' compensation is that under the federal system, the injured federal worker must provide medical evidence from a physician as defined by the FECA - meaning that the opinions of a social worker, chiropractor, physicians assistant or nurse practitioner are almost never considered competent medical evidence under FECA. If an attorney is not familiar with the nuances of FECA, it will be very difficult to achieve a good result for an injured federal worker, no matter how brilliant that attorney may be.

In addition, attorneys who regularly represent injured federal employees are more likely to be familiar with other areas of federal employment law, such as disability retirement under FERS or CSRS, wrongful termination or suspension issues appealable to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) and disability discrimination issues as they relate to federal employees in connection with EEO complaints.