How Federal Employees Obtain Workers’ Compensation
Denver attorney R. Mack Babcock explains how workers’ compensation for federal employees differs from other work-related injury claims.
If you work for the federal government, you, like employees of private businesses, are covered under workers’ compensation insurance. However, the process to receive compensation for work-related injuries is different.
Federal workers’ compensation law is regulated by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) – an organization managed by the Department of Labor (DOL)—and is broken into four sub-programs that provide workers with compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, vocational training, and more.
Each sub-program applies to different kinds of federal workers, and has different rules regarding compensation for injuries.
Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation (DFEC)
The DFEC program under federal workers’ compensation law covers over 3 million civilian government workers around the world. Most often, DFEC coverage is given to postal workers who are injured because of the physical nature of their job.
Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (DEEOIC)
Federal workers who are employees of the Department of Energy, or related agencies, are covered under the DEEOIC program—including contractors and subcontractors. The DEEOIC also insures nuclear plant workers, and its mission is to “provide lump-sum compensation and health benefits to eligible Department of Energy nuclear weapons workers and lump-sum compensation to certain survivors if the worker is deceased.”
Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation (DLHWC)
The DLHWC compensates federal employees who are injured while on navigable seas in U.S. territory, or “any adjoining pier, wharf, dry dock, terminal, building way, marine railway, or other adjoining area customarily used by an employer in loading, unloading, repairing, dismantling, or building a vessel,” according to the DOL.
Some examples of federal work jobs that are covered under DLHWC include port workers, longshoremen, and other waterfront workers.
Division of Coal Mine Workers’ Compensation (DCMWC)
Coal miners who are completely disabled because of pneumoconiosis, also known as the Black Lung, fall under the jurisdiction of the DCMWC. Also called the Federal Black Lung Program, the DCMWC administers benefits to coal miners who are diagnosed with a lung disease, as well as their surviving dependents if the disease results in death. The Federal Black Lung Program also provides eligible miners with financial compensation for the medical expenses of treating pneumoconiosis and other lung diseases related to this line of work.
How to File for Federal Workers’ Compensation
Work-related injuries affecting employees of the federal government are covered under the Federal Employee Compensation Act (FECA). FECA insures all full and part-time, temporary, seasonal, and probationary non-military federal workers for traumatic injuries and occupational diseases.
Traumatic injury is considered damage caused by one event, such as breaking a bone by falling off a ladder, or straining your back when lifting a heavy object. Occupational diseases are medical conditions that were caused by the work environment and developed over time or multiple work shifts. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, chronic neck/back pain, and internal maladies from breathing in toxins are examples of occupational diseases.
For traumatic injury claims, you must fill out a notice of injury form and give it to your supervisor no more than 30 days after the date of the incident. Your supervisor will give you additional forms to complete if you require medical treatment for your injury and want it covered by the government.
Similarly, federal employees with occupational disease claims must complete the notice of occupational disease form and turn it in to your supervisor as soon as possible after you become aware of your injury.
Those who will miss work and lose wages because of an injury will also need to complete a claim for compensation. The government will review the application, and determine if the injury claim is valid.
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Note: This article is for informational purposes only. Denver-based workers’ compensation attorneys at Babcock Law Firm focus solely on cases that fall under Colorado law, not injuries dealing with a federal employee. If you are a federal worker having difficulty receiving full compensation from the government for a work-related injury, then contact a worker’s compensation attorney who specializes in these kinds of cases.