You’ve been injured at work. Whether it was an accident or an illness, you have been harmed and it may threaten your ability to survive and support yourself and your family. The moment that you know you’ve been injured or made ill as a result of doing your job, you should quickly take stock of your symptoms and act.
As a federal employee, you are protected by the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) . When you first assess your situation and attempt to file a claim, you may feel very uncertain of the process, or confused about your rights. Here are some points to keep in mind as you navigate through this unlucky turn of events.
You are not alone
Every year, about 2.8 million people are injured at work in the United States. The first thing to know is that many people understand your situation first-hand.
In 2019, more than 100,000 new Workers’ Compensation cases were opened for federal employees. Over $3 billion in benefits were paid out for federal workers’ injuries and illnesses. These payments covered lost wages, medical and rehabilitative services, and even death benefits.
What is covered under FECA?
You are covered for medical treatment, disability, vocational rehabilitation, and funeral services.
Of course, in the case of an illness, symptoms may come on gradually, so this can be tricky. As soon as you realize you are experiencing symptoms, you should:
- Get medical treatment right away and let your doctors know that your injury or illness was work-related.
- Get documentation of any diagnosis from your healthcare provider and follow any treatment advice he or she gives you.
- Create a detailed written statement of what happened, when it happened, where it happened and how it affected your ability to continue working. When writing this summary, be clear and succinct.
- Read the articles on this site to learn what your rights are, and how to proceed. You can also visit https://www.dol.gov/OWCP/ to learn more about the law.
In terms of the validity of your claim, the deciding factor to keep in mind is whether doing your job correctly and lawfully caused your injury, illness or disability. An injury received while violating company policy or doing something illegal will not be accepted. So it is in your best interest to document and calmly explain what happened and how it happened, and work with the process and not against it. There may be a lot of paperwork to fill out, but this is to be expected.
If you need help
Your department must provide you with forms to fill out in order to be compensated for your injury, disability or illness. This should include coverage of medical treatment and any lost wages. Your department must file those forms within a timely manner. However, we are dealing with human beings here and occasionally they may not be cooperative or prompt with the filing of your claim. If you experience any discrimination or if your department head is uncooperative and mishandles the filing of your claim, you have recourse.
OWCP DOCS is here to help. We specialize in your type of case and know the details of the process. Let us know what you are dealing with, and we can guide you in your recovery.