Federal employees injured or killed on the job and their dependents are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under New Jersey workers’ compensation programs. Instead, they may be able to receive benefits under a federal workers’ comp program. The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA), which is administered by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP), is the most common program that covers millions of federal employees.
Who Is Covered Under the FECA?
The FECA provides benefits to federal civilian employees except for railroad workers, longshoremen, black lung coal minors, and harbor workers, who have their own separate workers’ compensation programs. It also does not cover members of the United States armed forces. Here are some eligibility requirements:
- All federal employees are covered, regardless of their length of service, job duties, or nature of their position.
- The employee must be employed by the federal government and not a private contractor.
- Temporary and part-time workers may be entitled to benefits.
- A federal employee must be injured or killed during the scope and course of their employment, including working off site.
- For an occupational illness or disease to qualify for benefits, the worker must develop the illness or disease from working conditions and hazards inherent to the job. This includes illnesses or diseases that develop while working off site or traveling.
Federal legislation has allowed some workers otherwise not covered under FECA to receive federal workers’ comp benefits. These include the following:
- Peace Corps and VISTA volunteers
- Both petit and grand jurors
- Members who volunteer with the Civil Air Patrol, Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets, Job Corps, Neighborhood Youth Groups, and Youth Conservation Corps enrollees.
- Non-federal law enforcement officers under certain circumstances that involve crimes against the United States
What Benefits Could You Be Entitled To?
The types of benefits federal employees covered under FECA can recover are similar to those under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation program, but FECA has its own specific rules. These include the following:
- Medical benefits. Medical benefits include the payment of medical treatments, therapies, medications, medical devices, and transportation costs without the need to pay co-payments, cost-sharing, or the use of private insurance. Vocational retraining is also covered. The OWCP has a schedule of the maximum allowable medical expenses. However, an injured worker is not responsible for charges over this maximum amount.
- Temporary total disability. When a worker suffers a traumatic injury, he can receive a continuation of his full pay (OCP) for the first 45 days of his injury. After that, the employee would be entitled to 2/3 of his wages if he is single with no dependents or 3/4 of his wages if he has one or more dependents.
- Permanent effects. If a worker suffers a permanent partial disability, such as a loss of a limb, he could be entitled to a “Schedule Award” payment, which is a wage-loss benefit paid over a certain number of weeks for an amount specified in a schedule set by federal regulations.
- Lost earning capacity benefits. If a worker is too hurt to return to work, he could be entitled to lost earning capacity benefits. This is the difference between the pre-injury wages and the wages the worker makes after his injury.
- Death benefits. When a worker is killed on the job, his dependents may be entitled to death benefits. Dependents can include a spouse, children, and dependent parents, siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren. The amount of the payment would depend on whether there are any children of the deceased worker and the dependent’s relationship to the worker. In addition, the family could be entitled to $800 in burial expenses.
Let Our Firm Help You Obtain the Federal Workers’ Compensation Benefits You Deserve
If you are a federal employee injured on the job or a dependent of a worker who was killed, Manfred Ricciardelli is here to explain your rights under FECA and to assist you in filing a claim for the benefits you deserve. Start an online chat or call our office today at 877-360-0183 to schedule your free consultation.