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Division of Federal Employees' Compensation (DFEC)

Federal Employees’ Compensation Act – Frequently Asked Questions

The following “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) are a supplement to Publication 550 "Questions and Answers About the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA)".

We also have FAQs on our Medical Authorization and Bill Pay processes for Injured Workers (link to http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/regs/compliance/infoinjuredwrkers.htm), Medical Providers (link to http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/regs/compliance/infomedprov.htm), and Employing Agencies (link to http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/regs/compliance/infoemp.htm).

I was injured on the job.  How do I file a claim?

You need to complete either form 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”.  A traumatic injury is one that can be pinpointed to have occurred during one particular work shift – falling down the steps for example.  An occupational disease is a medical condition that has developed due to work activities performed over more than one work shift.. 20 C.F.R. §§ 10.100-10.101. Both the CA-1 and the CA-2 are available for download from our site at http://www.dol.gov/regs/compliance/owcp/forms.htm

If you are submitting a CA-2, you should also review the appropriate CA-35 "Evidence Required in Support of a Claim for Occupational Disease" form/checklist.  There are several of these detailing the different sorts of documentation to be submitted depending on the type of occupational disease.  They are all included in one document at the aforementioned site. 

If you are still employed by the Federal agency where you worked when the injury occurred, submit the requested documentation to your employing agency.  Be sure to keep a copy of everything for your records. Your agency will complete their portion of the CA-1 or CA-2 and submit the entire packet to the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) district office.  OWCP will advise you of the claim number which has been established.  The district office will review the information submitted and will determine if there is sufficient information to adjudicate the claim.  If there is insufficient information to adjudicate the claim, they will send you a letter advising of the additional information needed.

If you are no longer employed by the Federal government, you should submit the completed form to the Federal agency where you last worked when the injury or disease was sustained. If the agency no longer exists or you experience difficulties in submitting the form, you should contact your servicing OWCP district office for assistance. .  District office jurisdiction is determined by where you live.  A listing of the district offices is on line at http://www.dol.gov/owcp/contacts/fecacont.htm

Is there a timeline for filing a claim?

The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) provides that a claim for compensation must be filed within 3 years of the date of injury.  For a traumatic injury, the statutory time limitation begins to run from the date of injury.  For a latent condition, it begins to run when an injured employee with a compensable disability becomes aware, or reasonably should have been aware, of a possible relationship between the medical condition and the employment.  Where the exposure to the identified factors of employment continues after this knowledge, the time for filing begins to run on the date of the employee's last exposure to those factors.   If a claim is not filed within 3 years, compensation may still be paid if written notice of injury was given within 30 days or if the employer had actual knowledge of the injury within 30 days after it occurred.   There is nothing to prohibit you from filing the claim.  Timeliness is determined by the OWCP district office as part of the adjudication process. 5 U.S.C. § 8122; 20 C.F.R. §§ 10.100-10.101.

How do I claim compensation for the wages lost due to my injury?

If you have a loss of wages (following any Continuation of Pay (COP) received for a traumatic injury, if applicable) and are in Leave Without Pay (LWOP) status as a result of the accepted condition(s) on your claim, you need to file a CA-7 “Claim for Compensation” with your agency.  If the period claimed on the CA-7 is intermittent, you need also to complete a CA-7a “Time Analysis Form”.  Both of these forms are available on our forms website at http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/regs/compliance/forms.htm.  You need to provide medical documentation supporting any periods of disability claimed. Your agency will complete their portion of the CA-7 and submit it and the medical documentation to OWCP.  OWCP will determine if there is sufficient information on file to pay compensation for the periods claimed or if further information/development is needed.  20 C.F.R. §§ 10.102, 10.400-10.403. 

How do I buy back the leave I took for my injury?

If you used leave to cover period of disability resulting from the accepted injury, you can apply to your agency to buy back your leave.  Each agency establishes its own rules for whether they allow leave buy back (LBB), timelines for submission, etc.  If your agency does allow leave buy back, to request a LBB, you need to complete a complete a CA-7 and check box B in section 2.  You also must sign form CA-7b “Leave Buy Back (LBB) Worksheet/Certification and Election,” after it has been completed by your employing agency.  If the period you claimed was intermittent (not a solid block of full days), you also need to complete a CA-7a “Time Analysis Form”.  Each of these forms is available on our forms website at http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/regs/compliance/forms.htm.  Submit these forms to your employing agency.  They will complete their portion and forward them to OWCP for processing.   There needs to be medical documentation in the OWCP file supporting your inability to work as a result of your accepted medical condition for any period where LBB is claimed.   You may submit the medical documentation to your employing agency along with your LBB packet.  Or, you may submit it directly to OWCP at U.S. Department of Labor, DFEC Central Mailroom, P.O. Box 8300, London, KY, 40742-8300.  Regardless of whether you submit it to your agency or directly to OWCP, please note your claim number on every page, send only single sided copies, and be sure to keep a copy for your records.

OWCP pays compensation at 66 2/3% of your pay rate (if you have no eligible dependents) or at 75% (if you have at least one eligible dependent), while official leave is paid at 100% of your pay rate.  To buy back your leave, you have to pay your agency the difference between what you were paid and what you would have received for compensation.  For example, if you have at least one eligible dependent and your pay rate was $1000 per week, OWCP would pay you $750 in compensation ($1000 x .75) if you took a week of leave.  To buy back your 40 hours of leave, you need to pay your agency $250 ($1000 - $750).    

How can I find out about the status of the CA-7 I filed for wage loss compensation?

OWCP has a toll-free automated system (IVR system), available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week, which provides information regarding specific claims.  By calling 866-OWCP-IVR (866-692-7487), injured workers and their representatives may access information regarding case status and wage loss compensation payments. Injured workers should have their 9-digit case file or claim number and social security number when calling.

The Claimant Query System (CQS) also provides injured workers with 24-hour access to their case file status; accepted conditions; address of record and; compensation payments and tracking.  CQS is accessible via OWCP’s Web Bill Processing Portal at:  http://owcp.dol.acs-inc.com

How do I receive my compensation payment via direct deposit?

To receive compensation payments via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), please complete form SF-1199a “Direct Deposit Form” and mail it to U.S. Department of Labor, DFEC Central Mailroom, P.O. Box 8300, London, KY, 40742-8300.  You must ensure your case file number is on the form. The SF-1199a is available on a variety of websites including the Department of Treasury site at http://www.fms.treas.gov/eft/SF-1199A-2012.pdf.

How do I claim a Schedule Award?

When an injured worker has permanent loss of use of certain body parts or organs, s/he may request a schedule award by submitting a CA-7 Claim for Schedule Award and an impairment rating completed by her/his treating physician. 20 C.F.R. §§ 10.103, 10.404.  The impairment rating can only be completed after maximum medical improvement has been reached and must be in accordance with the 6th Edition of the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, referencing the appropriate tables, and citing the date of maximum medical improvement. Impairment ratings may be done in a narrative format.  There is not a form for the physician to complete for the impairment rating unless the Claims Examiner has provided one in response to incomplete medical documentation previously submitted. The CA-7 is available on line at http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/regs/compliance/forms.htm.

If you are still employed by your Federal agency, complete your portion of the CA-7 and submit it to your employing agency’s Injury Compensation office.  They will complete their portion and forward the CA-7 to OWCP. 

If you are no longer employed by your Federal Agency, complete your portion of the CA-7 and submit it to OWCP at U.S. Department of Labor, DFEC Central Mailroom, P.O. Box 8300, London, KY, 40742-8300.  As is the case with anything you send to OWCP, please note your claim number on every page, send only single sided copies, and be sure to keep a copy for your records.  If information is needed from your former employing Federal agency OWCP will contact the agency to obtain it.

How are Schedule Awards processed?

Once the completed CA-7 and the impairment rating have been received, reviewed, and determined to appear complete by the claims examiner, s/he forwards it to the district medical advisor (DMA) for review. In some situations, the Claims Examiner must develop the claim by contacting the claimant, employer, or rating physician for additional information.  In some cases, the claimant must be referred to a second opinion medical examination to obtain a complete impairment rating.

Why doesn’t the OWCP IVR (866-692-7487) tell me the status of the CA-7 I filed for a Schedule Award?

The OWCP IVR only provides information regarding wage loss compensation payments.  A Schedule Award is not wage loss compensation. If further information is needed about the status of a schedule award claim, you may go to the Claimant Query System (CQS), which provides injured workers with 24-hour access to their case file status; accepted conditions; address of record and; compensation payments and tracking.  CQS is accessible via OWCP’s Web Bill Processing Portal at:  http://owcp.dol.acs-inc.com

What office do I call about my claim?

Claims are generally handled based on the geographical area in which the injured worker lives.  A listing of the district offices and their contact information is available on line at http://www.dol.gov/owcp/contacts/fecacont.htm.

How do I learn my claim number?

When a case is created, a pamphlet is mailed to the injured worker which includes the claim number and basic information about available benefits.  You may also learn your claim number by calling the district office with jurisdiction over your claim.   Provide your name, SSN, DOB, and date of injury.  The office will be able to provide you with the claim number.  Claims are generally handled based on the geographical area in which the injured worker lives.  A listing of the district offices and their contact information is available on line at http://www.dol.gov/owcp/contacts/fecacont.htm

Who can I contact for information about the status of my FECA claim?

The OWCP district office that services your claim is generally the best place to contact if you have questions about the status of your claim. You may contact that office by phone or in writing.  When you mail a document to the Central Mailroom, the document is scanned into the case record based on the claim number written on it.  The information is made available in the computer system to the claims examiner assigned to your claim.  When you call the district office your call will be routed to an individual who can assist you with your concerns.

The Claimant Query System (CQS) also provides injured workers with 24-hour access to their case file status; accepted conditions; address of record and; compensation payments and tracking.  CQS is accessible via OWCP’s Web Bill Processing Portal at:  http://owcp.dol.acs-inc.com

Can I communicate with my claims examiner by email? 

Pursuant to policy established by the Department of Labor, Employment Standards Administration, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, Division of Federal Employees' Compensation, email communication on case specific inquiries is not allowed due to security concerns. Therefore, in order to protect the identities and personal information of claimants under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act and to allow better tracking of incoming communications, we do not use email with claimants and representatives.  

To correspond with OWCP, please send mail to U.S. Department of Labor, DFEC Central Mailroom, P.O. Box 8300, London, KY, 40742-8300.  As is the case with anything you send to OWCP, please note your claim number on every page, send only single sided copies, and be sure to keep a copy for your records.

How do I change my address with OWCP?

To change your address with OWCP, please send a signed letter/statement to OWCP at U.S. Department of Labor, DFEC Central Mailroom, P.O. Box 8300, London, KY, 40742-8300, advising of your new address.  A telephone contact is not sufficient for the OWCP to change an address. Another acceptable document for an address change is the form SF-1199a used to elect receipt of compensation payments by electronic funds transfer (EFT). As is the case with anything you send to OWCP, please note your claim number on every page, send only single sided copies, and be sure to keep a copy for your records.

Why is it so important that my claim number be on every page of anything I send to OWCP?

When mail is received in our Central Mailroom in London, KY, it is scanned into the appropriate file in our computer system based on the claim number listed on the incoming documentation.  When there is no claim number, efforts are made to determine the correct claim based on other identifying information in the incoming correspondence.  This can take some time, and, in many instances, mail can never be scanned into a claim because of lack of identifying information.  To assure that correspondence you sent to OWCP is scanned into your claim in a timely fashion, it is imperative that you list your OWCP claim number on every page you send.  Be sure to provide your claim number to all parties submitting documentation on your behalf.

What form do I use to let OWCP know that I have named someone as my authorized representative?

There is no form used for naming someone as an injured worker’s authorized representative.  If you wish to name someone (spouse, union rep, attorney, etc.) as your authorized representative, you need to send OWCP a signed statement naming that person as your authorized representative. 20 C.F.R. §§10.700-10.703. This statement needs to list your claim number and should be sent to U.S. Department of Labor, DFEC Central Mailroom, P.O. Box 8300, London, KY, 40742-8300.  As is the case with anything sent to OWCP, you need to note your claim number on every page, send only single sided copies, and keep a copy for your records. 

How do I get a copy of my OWCP file?

To receive a copy of your OWCP file, please send a signed hard copy request to U.S. Department of Labor, DFEC Central Mailroom, P.O. Box 8300, London, KY, 40742-8300.  As is the case with anything you send to OWCP, please put your claim number on the top of every page, send only single sided copies, and be sure to keep a copy for your records.  You are entitled to one free copy of your case under the Privacy Act and you may obtain updates of your case file upon written request at no charge.  You may be charged for additional copies of your case file.  If your claim file was created after 2002, you may if you prefer request that the copy of your case file be provided in electronic format on a CD-ROM. 

How do I request a change of physician?

To request a change of physician, put the request in writing, detail the reason why you wish to change physicians, include the new physician’s name, specialty, and contact information, and sign the request.  This needs to be mailed to U.S. Department of Labor, DFEC Central Mailroom, P.O. Box 8300, London, KY, 40742-8300.  Your claims examiner will review the request and advise you whether the change is approved. As is always the case, please be sure to include your claim number on every page you send.    You will receive written notice of the approval of your request.

Can I receive my medical transportation and mileage reimbursement payments via direct deposit?

No. At this time, these payments are issued via paper check.

Will OWCP reimburse me for lunch or other meals when I have to travel for medical treatment? 

OWCP reimburses for travel based on the Federal Travel Regulation (41 C.F.R. 300-304).  Per diem reimbursement is covered in Chapter 301-11.1.c. which specifies that you must be in a travel status for more than 12 hours to be eligible for per diem reimbursement (either actual cost or per diem).  

What is the mileage reimbursement rate for travel to medical appointments?

The current mileage reimbursement rate, effective January 1, 2011, is $0.51 per mile for privately owned vehicles (POV). Travel to medical appointments is reimbursed according to the rate determined by the General Services Administration (GSA). Therefore, the amount reimbursed by OWCP is subject to change should GSA change the POV mileage reimbursement rate.

Where can I get copies of OWCP forms?

Our OWCP forms website at http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/regs/compliance/forms.htm contains many forms that you would need to initiate yourself.   There are some forms (a CA-1032, for example) that are issued by a claims examiner.  If you’ve been sent a form to complete, have misplaced it, and can’t find it at our forms website, please call your district office with jurisdiction over your claim to request a replacement.

Where may I obtain the CA-11 “When Injured at Work Information Guide for Federal Employees”?

The CA-11 is available on our website at http://www.dol.gov/regs/compliance/owcp/ca-11.htm

Why isn’t the CA-16 on the web?  How do I get a copy?

The CA-16 is not available on our website because it guarantees payment of medical expenses.  We limit access to the form as it is to be issued by the employing agency and may only be used in certain circumstances. 

If you are the injured worker, your agency will provide this form if it is appropriate.

If you are the supervisor of an injured worker, please contact your Workers' Compensation Unit for this form.

If you are with the Workers' Compensation unit, your Headquarters should have a supply of these forms.  Even if a supply is unavailable, they should be able to provide you with one CA-16 that you can copy as needed.  Federal agencies can purchase the revised CA-16 (revised 2/05) through the Government Printing Office. 

Authorized employing agency users of the Agency Query System (AQS) may access an electronic version of the CA-16 for download through the AQS website.

Where is the AB-1 form I can use to file an appeal with the ECAB?

The AB-1 form is available on the Employees’ Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB) site at http://www.dol.gov/ecab/welcome.html.  It’s under the Library links on the right side of the page.