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Understanding federal workers' compensation

Many people may think that workers' compensation benefits are the same, no matter who an employer may be. For government workers, though, that is not the case. The Division of Federal Employees' Compensation is responsible for overseeing and managing the benefits of government workers. This includes reviewing, approving and denying injury and illness claims, helping injured workers get back to work and paying survivors death benefits.

There were 115,697 claims filed in fiscal year 2012. Over $3 billion benefits were paid out to around 242,000 employees and survivors. Of that $3 billion, $140 million was paid in death benefits, $929 million was paid for injured or ill workers' medical care and services to help rehabilitate the employees, and $1.9 billion was paid to compensate employees for lost wages.

According to the DFEC, government employees can expect the following services:

Prompt Decisions on Compensation Claims

-- For a traumatic injury, a decision is made within 45 days in most cases.

-- For simple work-related illness cases, a decision will be made within 90 days in most cases.

-- For occupational illness cases that are complex and contain a lot of evidence, a decision will be made within six months; however, it could take as long as 10 months.

Prompt Compensation Payments

-- Payments are usually made within 2 weeks of submitting a claim as long as there is medical evidence to support the claim.

Prompt Payment to Medical Providers and Workers

-- Payments to medical providers or reimbursement for workers who have paid medical expenses related to the claim should be made within 28 days.

Help Returning to Work

-- If an employee returns to work within a year's time, he or she has a right to reclaim his or her previous job.

-- Rehabilitative services are available to help injured or ill employees return to work.

-- Second opinions from medical specialists may be authorized.

-- A registered nurse may be assigned to an injured or ill worker's case in order to make sure he or she is receiving the right care and to help ensure the worker has the best chance of returning to work.

If a claim is denied, an experienced attorney can provide advice and guidance in filing an appeal to help you get the benefits you are entitled to.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "Division of Federal Employees' Compensation (DFEC)" Sep. 06, 2014

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