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Office of Workers' Compensation Programs

Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation (DLHWC)

DLHWC Mission Statement

Mission Statement

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act and its extensions, administered by the U. S. Department of Labor's Employment Standards Administration, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, provide medical benefits, compensation for lost wages, and rehabilitation services to employees who are injured during the course of employment or contract an occupational disease related to employment. Survivor benefits also are provided if the work-related injury causes the employee's death.

What Our Program Does

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act provides employment-injury and occupational-disease protection to approximately 500,000 workers who are injured or contract occupational diseases occurring on the navigable waters of the United States, or in adjoining areas, and for certain other classes of workers covered by extensions of this Act.

These benefits are paid directly by an authorized self-insured employer; or through an authorized insurance carrier; or, in particular circumstances, by a Special Fund administered directly by the Division of Longshore Compensation.

In addition to longshore, harbor, and other maritime workers, LHWCA covers a variety of other employees through the following extensions to the Act: The District of Columbia Workmen's Compensation Act (enacted in 1928 and repealed effective July 26, 1982); Defense Base Act (1941); Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act (1952); and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (1953).

The Longshore Compensation Act provides over $747 million in monetary, medical and vocational rehabilitation benefits in more than 27,000 cases annually for maritime workers and various other special classes of private industry employees disabled or killed by employment injuries or occupational diseases. In addition the Longshore compensation program maintains over $2.8 billion in securities to ensure the continuing provision of benefits for these injured workers in cases of employer insolvency. Claimants depend upon timely receipt of these benefits to provide food, housing and a minimal standard of living for themselves and their families.

Monetary and Medical Benefits

The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, provides medical benefits, compensation for lost wages and rehabilitation services to longshoremen, harbor workers and other maritime workers who are injured during the course of employment or suffer from diseases caused or worsened by conditions of employment. Several other statutes extend the provisions of the Act to cover other classes of private-industry workers. These include workers engaged in the extraction of natural resources of the outer continental shelf, employees on American defense bases, and those working under contracts with the U.S. government for defense or public-works projects, outside of the Continental United States.

During FY 2005 in excess of $747 million in compensation and medical benefits will be paid in approximately 27,000 cases covered under these compensation acts. These benefits constitute the only source of income for many families. Medical benefits provide the treatment necessary to recuperate and return to gainful employment when timely provided.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

A primary function of the Longshore compensation program is to act as a mediator in resolving disputed claims. By means of an informal conference claimants and their employers discuss the issues and voluntarily resolve their disputes. Lacking this informal mechanism for resolving controversies, the parties must request a formal hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. This can result in delays before a decision is issued. Injured workers entitled to benefits are then without income for extended periods of time. Likewise, employers experience significant increases in litigation costs. In addition, the government realizes substantial savings each time the conference produces an agreement. For example the Longshore program can conduct an informal conference for an estimated average of $300 while each formal hearing costs over $2,000. During FY 2005 over 2500 informal conferences were conducted in disputed claims.

$2.8 Billion in Securities

The Longshore program is also responsible for over $2.8 billion in negotiable securities, cash and bonds which are maintained for the payment of benefits in the event of insolvency of the employer or insurance carrier. The Longshore Program has the fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the amounts posted are adequate to secure the payment of benefits which requres constant auditing and adjustment.