As a federal employee, if you have been injured on the job, you are likely all too aware of how stressful it can be just focusing on your recovery so that you can get back to work as quickly as possible. Any additional stress can severely delay your recovery process, so it is important to understand how to properly file for your worker’s compensation benefits.
Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) laws were put into effect over 100 years ago. They offer benefits for federal employees who have been injured on the job and help protect them and their families during financial hardships. If you have been injured on the job, you may find it difficult to know where to begin or exactly what to do next.
One of the most important rights you have under FECA is that you can choose your doctor. Many employees don’t realize they have a choice and assume that they are limited to being seen by a physician their employer recommends. Choosing a clinic with a thorough understanding of OWCP (Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs) requirements can be very beneficial to your recovery and help ease the strain of filing your claim. Their knowledge and experience can greatly increase your chances of claim approval by making sure it is properly prepared and filed.
Filing a claim to ensure you get the benefits you are entitled to following an illness or injury on the job can be overwhelming, and you may be unfamiliar with all the steps you are required to take in the process. There is a tremendous amount of pressure to get all your paperwork filled out on time and properly to avoid delays or, worse, rejection of your claim. If your claim is not filed accurately, it can lead to a lengthy process of going back and forth with OWCP, meaning you are responsible for all your bills out of pocket until it is resolved, and if your claim is denied, the debt can mount quickly. Unfortunately, this is very common because the medical information provided on the claim is incomplete.
Having a physician that knows the ins and outs of dealing with OWCP can be crucial, but there are other steps you will need to take to help keep your benefits from being terminated:
- Accept alternate job placement. If you can no longer perform your duties but have the opportunity to take another position that you are capable of and qualified to do, you will need to accept it.
- Vocational rehab. You must prove you are willing to return to work as soon as possible. This means participating in any vocational rehabilitation made available to you unless you have a good cause as to why not.
- Keep records. Make sure you keep all your medical records; having a doctor who is familiar with the process can help ensure there is a thorough record of your injury as well as health history.
- Be cooperative with required exams. If you refuse to do a follow-up exam or get another opinion, your claim may be denied.
Choosing the right doctor and following this list can go a long way towards getting your claim approved and your benefits more quickly, which means you can focus on what is really important for you and your family, getting better, and getting back to work.