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Office of Workers' Compensation Programs
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Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP)

History of OWCP

The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) had its origins in an organization established in 1916 to administer claims under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act. Benefits are available under this Act to more than three million federal employees, members and the Peace Corp and Americorps * Vista volunteers.

OWCP also administers the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act of 1927. This Act covers all maritime workers injured or killed upon the navigable waters of the U.S., as well as employees working on adjoining piers, docks and terminals, plus a number of other groups. Compensation under this Act is paid by employers who are self-insured, or through insurance policies provided by private insurers to employers.

The Black Lung Benefits Reform Act of 1977 provides monthly payments and medical treatment to coal miners totally disabled from pneumoconiosis (black lung) arising from their employment in the nation’s coal mines, and monthly payments to their surviving dependents.

The fourth and newest program under OWCP is the Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation which delivers benefits to eligible employees and former employees of the Department of Energy, its contractors and subcontractors or to certain survivors of such individuals, as provided in the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act. The Division also delivers benefits to certain beneficiaries of Section five of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.

On November, 8, 2009, the Employment Standards Administration (ESA) was abolished and the four major program components of ESA - Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Office of Labor Management Standards, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs and the Wage and Hour Division - became stand-alone programs reporting directly to the Secretary of Labor. The Office of the Assistant Secretary and the Office of Management, Administration and Planning (OMAP) were eliminated with administrative functions in OMAP transferred to the four programs or departmental administrative programs.

The purpose of the reorganization was to improve the efficiency of all four programs by eliminating a layer of review and decision-making, which allows DOL leadership to more quickly attend to policy matters in each program without having an added organization component review between the program heads and senior leadership.