Being injured on the job can be a scary and traumatic experience. Those who are out of work due to an injury share the burden of figuring out how they’ll continue to make enough money to support themselves and their families. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the postal service workers’ compensation claims process so you know what to expect if you’re ever injured on the job. If you’re a postal worker, your worker’s compensation claims are governed by the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA), and your claims are handled by the FECA Claims Administration.
If you need help filing a FECA claim, Morgan & Morgan is here for you. We’ve been handling workers’ compensation claims for decades, and we will do everything we can to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve in a timely manner. There’s nothing worse than being owed something but being unsure about when you’ll receive it. Contact Morgan & Morgan for help. Set up a free case evaluation today and we can match you with an attorney who will guide you through this process.
Claims Process if You’re Injured on the Job
If you’re injured while employed as a postal worker, it’s important to know what the process for filing a claim entails, and what to expect. All FECA claims are processed and adjudicated by the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP). When you submit your claim, the initial decision will be made by the OWCP based on the evidence you submit, including the supporting documents that your treating physician completes.
How to File a Claim
In order to file postal service workers’ compensation claims, you need to complete one of the following two forms: CA-1, "Federal Employee's Notice of Traumatic Injury and Claim for Continuation of Pay/Compensation" or form CA-2 "Notice of Occupational Disease and Claim for Compensation." The form you fill out depends on whether you’ve suffered a traumatic injury or an occupational disease. A traumatic injury is defined as one that can be specifically shown to have occurred during work—for example, falling down the steps. An occupational disease is defined as a medical condition that you developed as a result of work activities performed over more than one shift—for example, a torn rotator cuff from repetitive motions.
Continuation of Pay
For the first 45 days that you are disabled, you will receive Continuation Of Pay (COP) directly from your employer, not the OWCP. COP is subject to taxes and is viewed as wages, not workers’ compensation benefits.
File Form CA-7 For Compensation
If you receive continuation of pay but need to claim further compensation because you still aren’t ready to return to work, you’ll need to file form CA-7 for your period of disability that is not covered by continuation of pay. Form CA-7 alerts the Department of Labor that you are not receiving any income and it will initiate wage loss payments when it is submitted properly.
If You’re Not Satisfied With the Decision
Postal service workers’ compensation claims can be appealed. If the OWCP makes a decision that you are unhappy with, you are permitted to appeal their decision in several ways. When you receive the denial, they will include a description of the ways in which you can file an appeal. Appeals can often take a very long time, even up to a year. If you decide to appeal your decision, it’s definitely a good idea to hire a lawyer who can help you with this process. The following are the four ways in which you can appeal the decision:
1. Oral Hearing. If you disagree with the decision made, you can request an appeal and have the decision reviewed by the Branch of Hearings and Review in Washington, D.C. You have 30 days from the date that the decision was mailed to make this request. You can also request that the hearing be conducted via telephone so you don’t have to worry about traveling to the hearing. This is especially helpful if you’ve suffered a severe injury and are having difficulty getting around.
If you end up doing a hearing via telephone, a hearing officer will call you and conduct the oral hearing over the phone. A stenographer will transcribe the hearing. If necessary, the hearing officer should permit you to submit additional evidence once the hearing is over. Hearings can take anywhere from eight to ten months to be scheduled. After the hearing concludes, it can take another three months for you to get a decision.
2. Review of the Written Record. You have thirty days from the date that the decision was mailed to request a review of the written record. In this situation, a hearing representative will review your case without any further testimony or evidence being presented. Additionally, you do not have to attend any type of hearing in this case.
3. Reconsideration. You have one year from the date that the decision was mailed to request a reconsideration of your postal service workers’ compensation claims. In order for your claim to be reconsidered, you must submit new evidence or a new legal theory detailing why you should receive reconsideration.
4. Appeal to the Employees Compensation Appeals Board. You have 6 months from the date of the decision to request an appeal to the Employees Compensation Appeals Board. You can choose an in-person oral argument, or you can file a written argument. You do not need to include any new evidence for this type of appeal.
The type of appeal you choose will depend on your case. Why was it denied? Do you need more evidence? Do you have more evidence? An experienced lawyer can help you determine which appeal is best for your particular case.
Time Limit for Claims
Postal service workers’ compensation claims submitted under FECA for death or disability benefits must be made within three years from the date of the injury or death. If you are injured but the injury doesn’t present itself until much later, the three year time limit doesn’t begin until you become aware, or reasonably should be aware, that the disability you suffered was caused by your employment.
If you are injured at any time while employed as a postal worker, you should make sure that you notify your employer of your injury immediately. If you fail to file your claim within 3 years of the date of your injury, it isn’t necessarily too late in some circumstances. If your notified your employer of your injury within 30 days of the date that you were injured, or if your employer had actual knowledge of your injury within 30 days of its occurrence, you can still file your claim and possibly recover compensation.
If you’re ever in doubt about whether or not you can file a claim, you should go ahead and file it. You should also contact a lawyer who can help you handle this claim, especially if you think you’re past the deadline.