If you’re a government worker and hurt on the job, you are likely eligible to receive federal workers compensation. Rather than through state programs, federal employees receive workers’ comp via the Federal Employees Compensation Act, or FECA.
While it is not true that workers’ compensation laws are primarily federal laws – in the United States, workers’ comp is a state-based system – FECA makes workers’ comp nationally available for most government employees.
Eligibility is solely based on federal employment and the nature of the injury, regardless of whether you’re part- or full-time or seasonal.
First steps when injured at work
When you realize that you are injured at work, you may be in shock at first, and you may not know exactly what to do. Whether you’re reporting an immediate traumatic injury or an occupational illness that occurred over time, there are several steps you can take leading up to filing a federal workers compensation claim.
Report to supervisor
Any and all work-related injuries, whether immediate or occurring over time, should be reported to your supervisor. This should always be your first step.
Whether you’re hurt on or offsite, your injury will qualify for federal workers compensation as long as it occurs while you’re on duty.
Injuries you should report to your boss include immediate harm and occupational diseases, which are caused by hazardous work conditions. Any damage done to prosthetic devices such as artificial limbs or medical braces also qualify as workplace injuries.
Obtain medical care
Notifying your supervisor is crucial not only for the sake of transparency, but also because you need to ask your supervisor to authorize medical treatment. Your supervisor can give you the green light by filling out form CA-16, which you can use to seek treatment from either private physicians or federal medical officers.
File written notice
Before you file your federal workers compensation claim, discuss your potential diagnosis with OWCP doctors. Which form you fill out depends on what type of illness or injury you have, and reporting the correct type is essential to a successful process. Each form can be obtained from your employing agency.
And remember – while it is untrue that workers’ compensation laws are primarily federal laws, civilian employees with work-related injuries should be mindful of their states’ respective deadlines to submit forms.
OWCP CA-1 form
If OWCP doctors diagnose that you have experienced a traumatic injury, obtain and fill out form CA-1, “Federal Employee’s Notice of Traumatic Injury and Claim for Continuation of Pay/Compensation.” You should complete this form as soon as possible – submit it to your place of work within 30 days of your injury.
OWCP CA-2 form
Form CA-2, “Notice of Occupational Disease and Claim for Compensation,” must be filed if you suffer from an occupational disease or illness. This can include skin cancer, asbestosis or eczema – any sort of condition that was clearly caused by or worsened due to certain working conditions.
Attached to both form CA-1 and CA-2 is what is called a Receipt of Notice of Injury. Your supervisor is responsible for filling out this receipt and returning it to you for your personal records.
Stay on top of your supervisor if they don’t seem to be getting back to you. Having a Receipt of Notice helps you keep track of your process, and it serves as documentation to prove that you submitted your forms when you needed to.
Submit a claim for workers compensation
Next, you can submit a claim for continuation of pay (COP), leave, and/or compensation for wage loss.
If you end up disabled due to a traumatic injury, you can claim COP for up to 45 calendar days (not business days). This claim should be done and turned in within 30 days following the injury. However, medical evidence of harm and disabling needs to be submitted to your employing agency within 10 days.
If your inability to work continues beyond the 45-day period, you can use leave or fill out form CA-7 to claim federal workers compensation. This form should also be used if you’ve sustained an occupational illness. This claim needs to be submitted as soon as you realize you will not be able to work due to injuries.
How to file a workers comp claim
Once you understand these initial steps, you can retrieve federal workers compensation forms via your employing agency or the U.S. Department of Labor. Whether or not you are still working where you are injured, your forms should be submitted through the workplace at which the injury occurred.
Benefits of federal workers comp
As long as your forms are filled out correctly, you should be eligible for these benefits under FECA:
- Paid medical treatment and expenses
- Paid time off for recovery
- Compensation for permanent disability
- Vocational rehabilitation, a process that helps folks with psychological, cognitive, emotional and/or other impairments overcome barriers to employment
- Paid benefits in the event of death
Contact professional OWCP doctors (mention fed help)
Even if you’re familiar with the process at this point, you should still seek the help of professional OWCP doctors. Through Fed Help, you can connect with dedicated and experienced medical professionals that specialize in federal workers compensation.
These doctors can diagnose your injury and walk you through the lengthy, sometimes confusing process of filing a claim.