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Office of Workers' Compensation Programs

Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation (DLHWC)


  1. Purpose and Scope. This Chapter describes the case files in the DO, the manner in which they are maintained, searched, and repaired; and the procedure for changing from open to closed status.
  2. Case Classification. Case records in the district office fall into one of the two following basic classifications:
    1. Open Case. This case is one in which some action is expected or a time period for closing has not run. This is the basic active file. Cases remain in this status until they are closed by the CE.
    2. Closed Case. Cases in this classification are those that have been closed by the CE, but have not been sent to the Federal Records Center for storage. At the time the case is closed, the CE should update the Case Status and Case Type in the LCMS. This should be done on the LCMS Claim Screen. The LCMS Case Type codes are as follows:
      1. = No Lost Time
      2. = 3 or Fewer Days Lost
      3. = More Than 3 Days Lost
      4. = Death
      5. = Other
  3. Filing Cases. Prior to the introduction of the LCMS, open and closed cases were filed separately in the file room. This was necessary for the compiling of data for management reports and it facilitated the shipment of cases to the Federal Records Center according to the established retirement schedule. The LCMS now provides an automated capability of identifying open and closed cases, and district offices are no longer required to maintain separate open and closed files. Attaching mail is also facilitated since there is only one file room location for cases. With few exceptions case records shall be maintained in the file room. Exceptions include active cases which are being reviewed in another part of the office by district office personnel, and case records removed from the office (e.g., transferred to another DO or to the NO).
  4. Searching.
    1. Numbered Mail. Numbered mail will be checked against the cases in the file room, placing the incoming mail connected with each case inside the appropriate folder. The folder will be removed from the file and routed for action.
    2. Routing and Delivery. The case files with attached incoming mail will be delivered to the appropriate claims examiner assigned to each group of claim numbers as determined by the individual office.
    3. Search List. A search list of remaining mail will be prepared at least weekly, listing the file numbers in numerical order. All cases in the office not in the file room will next be searched from this list.
    4. Conducting the Search. All locations in the office should be searched for cases with outstanding unattached mail. When a case is located for which mail has been received, the mail should be placed in the case folder and given directly to the responsible individual or placed in a location where the responsible individual will be aware of incoming mail which requires his or her attention.
  5. Recall Mail. Mail for which no jacket has been located after a complete search of the files and desks of the office is designated as recall mail. It is interfiled with the next day's mail to be searched again.
  6. Old Mail. At the end of each week, all unattached mail should be screened prior to interfiling with the next new mail group. Any expedite mail which has been in OWCP five or more working days should be given to the Mail and File Supervisor for special searching for the related cases.
  7. Requirements For Filing Cases. A case is not to be filed if it contains loose mail. If there is loose mail in the case, the case should be returned to the responsible examiner for appropriate action.
  8. Filing Materials In The Case Folder.
    1. Initialing and Dating Documents. Claims Examiners and all other personnel with the responsibility for filing forms, reports, correspondence, etc., in the case file are responsible for initialing and dating all pieces of mail which they add to the case file. The notation will be made in the upper right hand corner of the first page of the document.
    2. Filing Order. Generally, no reports or correspondence should be placed on the fastener until appropriate action has been completed. Mail and other material should be filed in chronological order based on date of receipt, except that the LS-202 is always filed at the bottom. The file copy of a response should be placed on top of the reports or correspondence to which it pertains.
    3. Duplicate Material. Copies or duplicates of forms, letters, medical reports, or other correspondence already on file should not be added to the case file. It is important to ensure that they are identical copies and not updated or revised versions of the earlier material. An exception to the rule of not adding duplicate records to the case file would be copies submitted by different parties. Such copies should be retained since they would be a part of the other party’s evidence.
  9. Repair of Files. With use, material in the case files and the case file folders can become damaged and could be made illegible. It is the responsibility of the Mail and Files Section to maintain the integrity of the case files.
    1. Loosened Pages. In any instance where material has torn loose, partially or totally, from the fastener, repair or strengthen the page with a gummed or self-adhesive reinforcement or transparent tape, or by other appropriate and effective method.
    2. Torn or Damaged Pages. Mend torn or damaged documents if possible. If mending is not sufficient, and there is a possibility of further damage, it may be necessary to photocopy the damaged document in order to have a serviceable copy in the file.
    3. Spilled/Disassembled Cases. In the event that cases are dropped and spilled, or are disassembled (e.g., for photocopying purposes), make sure the contents are replaced in the proper folders and in the proper chronological order, with the LS-202 on the bottom.
    4. Damaged Case File Folders. In all instances of damaged folders, the entire case file is to be referred to the Mail and Files Section for repair or replacement. Such repair or replacement is not to be performed other than by the Mail and Files Section.