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Federal Workers' Compensation

The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs administers four major disability compensation programs which provide wage replacement benefits, medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation and other benefits to certain workers or their dependents who experience work-related injury or occupational disease.

Here is a forum for members to share and exchange experiences regarding to workers' compensation related issues.


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OBE17  
#1 Posted : Monday, August 24, 2020 5:06:41 AM(UTC)
OBE17

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The OWCP has a “mantra” which they recite whenever they are dealing with the case of a retirement-aged Injured Worker (IW) it is: “OWCP IS NOT A RETIREMENT PROGRAM.” I read something interesting in a pamphlet titled FECA Congressional Research Service’s Report: “Although FECA Benefits have always been paid for the duration of the disability, for life if need be, between 1949 and 1974 the Administrator of the FECA Program was required to review the amount of benefits paid to each beneficiary at the age of 70 and was authorized to reduce the amount of such benefits if it was determined that the beneficiary’s wage earning capacity had been reduced by his/her age, independent of his/her disability.” This provision was repealed, however, in 1974 with the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare calling the reduction of benefits at the age of 70 “discriminatory.”

And this: “FECA benefits are intended to provide some relief to the IW beyond wage replacement, such as providing additional money that might have been paid through the tort system, or guaranteeing a certain minimum standard of living for a disabled worker.” The “Exclusive Remedy Rule” of 1949 prohibits injured federal workers from seeking redress through the courts.

OWCP argues that FECA Benefits for wage-earning capacity loss are analogous to the SSDI program which stops paying benefits when a disabled beneficiary reaches retirement age. The difference here, however, is that SSDI (in all cases) automatically converts to Social Security retirement benefits at retirement age but in some OWCP cases, an IW does not qualify for federal retirement. Congress set the record straight in 1974 and when they banned the practice stating that such reductions or eliminations placed undue hardships on IWs who, “…due to their injuries, had not been able to reach their full earning potential and who now have reduced pensions due to years of limited earnings.” and yet, the assault continues unabated.

The Administrator of FECA doesn't arbitrarily reduce retirement-aged IWs benefits anymore (that would be indefensible) instead OWCP corrupts the intent of a noble practice meant to help IWs get their lives "back on track", namely Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) by misusing a tool with which they have been furnished to weed-out somatizers, called a “Constructed LWEC.” They engage a Rehabilitation Counselor (RC) to certify the IW, through training and medical certification, as able to work an 8-hour-day (with limitations), then they find openings in jobs in the IW’s geographic area which are suitable to his/her (purported) physical limitations. They then apply the pay rate of one of those jobs to the IW’s earnings (whether the IW gets hired to one of those jobs or not) and use that wage-earning capacity to reduce (or totally eliminate) the IW’s monthly benefit check.

I am one such IW (and I am in VR right now) and I would like to hear from others out there who have experienced this discrimination.


swimmingly  
#2 Posted : Sunday, August 30, 2020 12:05:00 PM(UTC)

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I requested voc rehab. It was a joke. Post how it goes when they apply a LWEC on your wages.

OBE17  
#3 Posted : Monday, August 31, 2020 2:59:48 AM(UTC)
OBE17

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Thanks for the reply. "...when they apply a LWEC on your wages." That's a whole 'nother story. It's being dragged out due to the pandemic (on hold half-way through) but there are scads of decisions in ECAB records of the Office being over-ruled on the basis of the FECA "doctrine" that states that:

“Actual dollar earnings received several years after injury may be used to determine wage earning capacity only after they have been converted into terms of actual dollar earnings received at the time of injury. [Albert C Shadrick 5 ECAB 376 1953]”


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