By Dan Goodkin
FECA – Workplace Injuries – https://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/
Government employees who are injured on the job are covered by FECA. This is a process akin to filing to an insurance claim and is administered entirely by the US Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP). The program provides benefits to employees who suffer from a traumatic injury, occupational disease or if they are killed while working or because of an injury suffered or disease acquired because of work. There are multiple deadlines for filing FECA claims depending on the type of claim. Typically, an injured worker has 3 years from the date of injury or the date of last exposure to whatever factor of employment caused his or her injury to file a claim. There are exceptions, such as when the injured worker does not know that a condition is related to work or the condition does not manifest until after the three years. This happens frequently with claims of asbestosis which does not typically show up until many years after exposure.
Under FECA, there is no apportionment. This means that if work duties cause a worsening of a pre-existing injury, the entire resulting condition is covered under FECA. That means that if a Veteran leaves the military with an injury, and it is worsened by subsequent federal civilian service, the injury will likely be covered under FECA. There may be an off-set between FECA benefits and VA disability benefits, but it is typically worth getting the injury covered under FECA as not all benefits are offset.
Benefits under FECA include 100% covered medical care with the injured workers’ physician of choice, wage loss benefits if the employee is unable to work because of the work-related medical condition (66 2/3% or 75% of lost wages, tax free), and a possible cash award for permanent impairment to the extremities and various organs should the injury result in permanent damage. It also includes vocational rehabilitation services. In the event the employee dies from his or her work related injury, FECA provides a survivor benefit to any surviving spouse or dependents.
Our firm has been handling FECA claims for decades. Attorney Steven Brown founded the FECA section of the Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and Attorney Daniel Goodkin is now the Co-Chair of the FECA section of that organization.
MSPB – Prohibited Personnel Practices – https://www.mspb.gov/
The Merit Systems Protection Board protects federal employees from “Prohibited Personnel Practices.” This includes protecting employees from wrongful termination, nepotism, whistleblowing, misclassification, political activity, etc.. The MSPB also administers the Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA https://www.mspb.gov/mspbsearch/viewdocs.aspx?docnumber=367903&version=368536&application=HTML) which protects non-career uniformed service members by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of military service and ensures that federal agencies comply with their obligation to reemploy the service member after he or she has completed a period of military service.
Our firm represents employees who are fighting adverse actions at every stage of the MSPB process. We have a proven track record of helping employees keep their jobs, getting those jobs back after wrongful termination, and getting discipline rescinded.
In Part 3, the final installment will cover the Merit Systems Protection Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.