The Federal Employment Compensation Act
Public employees working for the federal government are typically subject to a separate set of workers' compensation regulations. Federal employees are governed by federal law, while state or local employees are subject to either the same state regulations as private workers or a special state statute. In addition, some occupations like railroad workers and seamen have their own separate regulations entirely. Read on to learn more about how federal employees are treated under the Federal Employment Compensation Act.
What Is the Federal Employment Compensation Act?
If you are a federal employee, you are likely covered under the Federal Employee's Compensation Act (FECA). FECA allows for the recovery of benefits when a federal employee is either disabled or killed as a result of an injury or disease "sustained while in the performance of duty."
FECA is available to federal employees regardless of the length of time on the job or the type of position held. Benefits include both medical expenses and compensation for wage loss. Vocational rehabilitation services are also offered to partially disabled employees. All federal benefits are managed through the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) and paid out of the Employees' Compensation Fund.
Who Is Covered Under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA)?
All civilian employees of the United States, except those paid from non-appropriated funds, are covered under FECA. There is also special legislation that provides coverage to:
- Peace Corps and VISTA volunteers
- Federal petit or grand jurors
- Volunteer members of the Civil Air Patrol, Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets, Job Corps, Neighborhood Youth Corps, and Youth Conservation Corps enrollees
- Non-federal law enforcement officers under certain circumstances involving crimes against the United States
What Specific Work-Related Injuries Are Covered Under the FECA?
Many types of injuries are covered if they occur in the performance of duty, including diseases caused by employment. However, benefits cannot be paid if injury or death is caused by willful misconduct of the injured employee, by intent to bring about the injury or death of oneself or another, or by intoxication of the injured employee.
What Requirements Must a Claim Meet?
In order to make a claim, an injured employee must provide medical and factual evidence to establish five basic elements:
- The claim was filed within the time limits set by the FECA;
- The injured or deceased person was an employee within the meaning of the FECA;
- The employee actually developed a medical condition (or damaged a prosthesis) in a particular way;
- The employee was in the performance of duty when the event(s) leading to the claim occurred; and
- The medical condition found resulted from the event(s) leading to the claim.
Is There a Time Limit to File My Claim?
Yes. A notice must be filed within three years of the date of injury. However, if a claim is not filed within three years, compensation may still be paid if written notice of injury was given within 30 days, or the employer had actual knowledge of the injury within 30 days after it occurred.
Consider Getting Professional Help With Your Workers' Compensation Claim
Even the simplest injury can lead to considerable obstacles, such as proving that the injury was in fact work-related or covered by insurance. In any event, your employer is required by law to provide fair compensation in the event of a workplace injury or illness. If you have questions about your claim or want to find out whether you should sue your employer, you'll probably want to speak with a workers' comp attorney near you.
Contact a qualified workers' compensation attorney to make sure your rights are protected.