Federal Workers’ Compensation is governed and administered by the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA). FECA provides benefits to civilian employees of the United States government who have suffered work-related injuries. FECA benefits include payment for medical expenses and compensation for lost wages, as well as payment of benefits to dependents of employees who die from work-related injuries. (See also: Federal Workers’ Comp)
Traumatic injuries and occupational diseases are also covered by FECA. Traumatic injuries are wounds or other conditions of the body caused by external force including stress or strain. The injury must have been caused by a specific event or incident or a series of events within a single day of work or work shift. An occupational disease is a condition produced by the work environment over a period longer than one workday or shift. The condition may result from infection, repeated stress or strain, or repeated exposure to toxins, poisons, fumes or other continuing conditions of the work environment. The length of the exposure, not the cause of the injury or the medical condition which results, determines whether an injury is traumatic or occupational.
The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) under the Dept. of Labor administers FECA. All civilian federal employees except for those paid from non-appropriated funds are covered under FECA. FECA coverage is also extended to federal employees regardless of the length of time on the job or the type of position held, including probationary, temporary, part-time, seasonal and intermittent employees.
As with state by state workers’ compensation, injuries to federal employees should be reported as soon as possible, even if initially minor. FECA allows for persons other than the injured worker, including the supervisor, to act on behalf of the injured worker or survivor and fill out the worker’s portion of the appropriate forms. FECA also covers pre-existing medical conditions or diseases, which are aggravated or accelerated by employment. An employee is not required to have an attorney or other representative to file or pursue a claim for compensation, however a federal employee may not serve as a representative unless he or she is an immediate family member of the injured worker, or is acting in his or her official role as a union representative. The injured employee and not the OWCP is responsible for paying the representative’s fee, however federal civilian employees are covered by FECA as a result of their federal employment without having to pay for coverage.
If for any reason a supervisor refuses to accept a notice of injury, illness or death, the employee should notify OWCP of the refusal because doing so is a violation of 18 U.S.C. 1922.
Costs associated with federal workers’ compensation claims are paid from the Employees’ Compensation Fund, which OWCP administers. Each year, each employer reimburses the Fund for the amounts paid to its employees in workers’ compensation benefits during the previous year.