Division of Federal Employees' Compensation (DFEC)

FECA Bulletins have been divided into five-year groups to make it easier for you to search and find the information you are looking for.

Table of Contents


Fiscal Year 2021

Bulletin

Subject

FECA Bulletin No. 21-01

Special Case Handling in COVID-19 FECA Claims Processing and Adjudication

FECA Bulletin No. 21-02

Telemedicine for Routine Appointments

FECA Bulletin No. 21-03

Compensation Pay - Consumer Price Index (CPI) Cost-of-Living Adjustments.

FECA Bulletin No. 21-04

Compensation Pay: Compensation Rate Changes for 2021.

FECA Bulletin No. 21-05

Payment authorization on reimbursements exceeding $50,000

FECA Bulletin No. 21-06

Revised Process for Converting Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) Paper Cases into Fully Imaged Official Case Records

FECA Bulletin No. 21-07

New FECA Pharmacy Benefits Management System

FECA Bulletin No. 21-08

Telemedicine for Routine Appointments – Updated

FECA Bulletin No. 21-09

Processing FECA Claims for COVID-19 under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

FECA Bulletin No. 21-10

Establishing FECA Claims for COVID-19 under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 through Antigen Testing

FECA Bulletin No. 21-11

Retention of the American Medical Association's Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 6th Edition (2009).

 

Back to FECA Bulletins (2020-2024) Table of Contents

 

Fiscal Year 2020

Bulletin

Subject

FECA Bulletin No. 20-01

Compensation Pay - Consumer Price Index (CPI) Cost-of-Living Adjustments.

FECA Bulletin No. 20-02

Compensation Pay: Compensation Rate Changes for 2020.

FECA Bulletin No. 20-03

Compensation Pay: Compensation Rate Changes for 2020.
This Bulletin supersedes FECA Bulletin 20-02.

FECA Bulletin No. 20-04

Compensation Pay - Consumer Price Index (CPI) Cost-of-Living Adjustments.
This Bulletin supersedes FECA Bulletin 20-01.

FECA Bulletin No. 20-05

Federal Employees Contracting COVID-19 in Performance oF Duty

FECA Bulletin No. 20-06

Change in collection procedures for debt owed to the Division of Federal Employees' Compensation (DFEC).

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FECA BULLETIN NO. 21-01

Issue Date: October 21, 2020


Subject: Special Case Handling in COVID-19 FECA Claims Processing and Adjudication

Background: The Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) covers injury in the performance of duty; injury includes a disease proximately caused by federal employment. The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) Division of Federal Employees', Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation (DFELHWC) administers FECA. FECA provides to an employee injured while in the performance of duty, the services, appliances, and supplies prescribed or recommended by a qualified physician, which OWCP considers "likely to cure, give relief, reduce the degree or the period of disability, or aid in lessening the amount of the monthly compensation." See 5 U.S.C. 8103. FECA pays compensation for the disability or death of an employee resulting from injury in the performance of duty.

While all federal employees who contract COVID-19 related to their federal employment are entitled to FECA coverage, special case handling considerations apply. FECA Bulletin No. 20-05 was released on March 31, 2020, to provide targeted instructions to claims staff on the handling of COVID-19 FECA claims, including for employment designated by the FECA program as high-risk employment, which are expanded upon here.

Purpose: To provide additional guidance regarding special case handling of COVID-19 FECA claims.

A. High-Risk Employment Determinations by Position

As outlined in FECA Bulletin No. 20-05, OWCP recognizes that federal employees who have direct and frequent in-person and close proximity interactions with the public may be considered to have high-risk employment as it relates to COVID-19. This includes, but is not limited to, members of law enforcement, first responders, and front-line medical and public health personnel.

1. To make high-risk determinations by position, OWCP must first make a factual determination regarding exposure to COVID-19, based primarily upon the employing Agency's input. Questions by OWCP to the Agency will focus on the conditions of employment, with an emphasis on exposure to individuals known to have COVID-19 and/or required exposure to the general public and/or COVID-19 affected populations such as patients. Initial fact-finding will focus on the following:

  1. Nature of Exposure and Contact (e.g., direct contact with one or more person(s) confirmed to have COVID-19, direct contact with the general public and/or COVID-19 affected populations such as patients, and the proximity);
  2. Volume of Exposure (e.g., less than 10 people, 10-50 people, etc.);
  3. Duration of Exposure (e.g., less than 2 hours per shift, 2-4 hours per shift, etc.); and
  4. Other (e.g., any pertinent information specific to the exposure or the employee’s position).

Where the facts provided by an agency are not limited to an individual employee, but are applicable to all employees in a specific position, at a specific location, and during a specific time frame, OWCP will utilize this information to efficiently make a factual high-risk determination on the position itself. The high-risk determination pertains only to the positions, geographic locations, and timeframes, as indicated by the employing Agency. Additionally, the employing Agency can challenge the high-risk determination on any individual case, since the work duties of specific individuals may be inconsistent with the high-risk determination. For example, the employee may hold that position but be temporarily assigned to different duties.

2. An internal team, designated as the COVID-19 Task Force, and consisting of the FECA Director (now the Director of DFELHWC) and his designees, the FECA Policy Chief, and the OWCP Chief Medical Officer1, will review the available evidence of likely workplace exposure to COVID-19 for each specific position. This review includes an examination of how COVID-19 was caused by the position’s work-related activities. The Task Force makes the high-risk employment determination by position based upon the facts presented by the Agency and the contemporaneous epidemiologic understanding and related science accepted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding the virus and its transmissibility. Based on that review, the Task Force finds whether there is sufficient evidence to accept that the diagnosis of COVID-19 is proximately caused by employment.

If the COVID-19 Task Force determines that the position is high-risk, OWCP will designate the position as high-risk. When this occurs, a position-based high-risk determination memorandum is created and placed in the applicable FECA case files at the time of adjudication. In each of those instances, OWCP will accept that the exposure was proximately caused by high-risk employment and no further medical evidence explaining the relationship between the confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis and the employment is required.

These high-risk position level reviews occur primarily for those positions with a higher volume of claims. Examples include a physician or nurse at the Department of Veterans Affairs or a Correctional Officer for the Bureau of Prisons.

B. High-Risk Employment Determinations by Case Specific Facts

In other instances, OWCP may collect information about an individual case that indicates a possible high-risk employment determination for a specific employee, but not a high-risk determination for all employees in this position. If a claimant/employee’s position has not been classified as high-risk, but the individual case employment circumstances are the same or similar to the circumstances for high-risk determination by position, and there is indication (of likely exposure at work to COVID-19), then a memorandum will be created by the claims examiner and submitted to the Task Force. The memorandum should include details specific to that case regarding the job duties, nature and duration of exposure, and all other pertinent facts obtained from the claimant/employee and the employing Agency.

The COVID-19 Task Force will review this memorandum and make a high-risk case specific determination based on the facts submitted in the memorandum and the contemporaneous epidemiologic understanding and other science accepted by the CDC regarding the virus and its transmissibility. The Task Force’s review includes examining how COVID-19 may have been caused by the employee’s work-related activities. Based on that review, the Task Force determines whether there is sufficient evidence to accept that the diagnosis of COVID-19 was proximately caused by employment.

If the COVID-19 Task Force determines the case specific employment is considered high-risk, a high-risk determination memorandum is created and placed in the applicable case file at the time of adjudication. In each of these cases, OWCP will accept the exposure was proximately caused by high-risk employment and no further medical evidence explaining the relationship between the confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis and the employment is required.

C. All Other Determinations

If the claimant’s position is not considered high-risk or the claimant’s specific case is not considered high-risk, the claimant/employee should be asked to provide medical evidence from a physician to include the diagnosis of COVID-19 and an explanation of how COVID-19 was caused by the employee’s work-related activities.

D. Additional Development and Adjudication of Claims

All COVID-19 FECA claims will be fully developed to establish the five basic elements set forth in 20 CFR 10.115, pursuant to the special handling procedures further addressed in items 1-5 below.

1. Medical Development. The claimant/employee will be asked to submit the laboratory test results that confirm the diagnosis of COVID-19. If there are any questions regarding the laboratory test result submitted, the claims examiner should refer to OWCP’s Chief Medical Officer for review and clarification.

  1. If the Task Force has made a high-risk determination based on position or case specific facts, as indicated in section A and B above, and a positive COVID-19 laboratory test result is submitted, no further medical development is necessary. However, in certain instances, and where the facts of a case warrant, OWCP may request a medical statement of the causal relationship of how the COVID-19 was employment-related, in addition to the COVID-19 test result.
  2. If the Task Force has not made a high-risk determination, as indicated in section C above, the claimant/employee should be asked to provide medical evidence from a physician to include the diagnosis of COVID-19 and an explanation of how COVID-19 was caused by the employee’s work-related activities.
  3. While an antibody test may be submitted to confirm that the employee had COVID-19, the medical evidence should also address how the diagnosis of COVID-19 is employment-related and/or include a contemporaneous indication that the claimant was diagnosed with/treated for COVID-19 by a physician.
  4. If there is a claim that COVID-19 aggravated, accelerated, or precipitated another ancillary medical condition, the claimant/employee should be asked to provide additional medical evidence from a physician.
  5. If the employing Agency has copies of responsive medical documentation (such as lab results, antibody test results, or health unit entries), the Agency should promptly provide such documents to the DFELHWC.

2. Extensions. A period of 30 days is generally allowed for the submission of any evidence requested by OWCP. An extension of additional time can be granted in the following circumstances:

  1. If the claimant/employee requests an extension;
  2. If a positive test result has been submitted, but the factual evidence is missing; or
  3. If there is a positive laboratory test result on file, but the official laboratory report is missing and OWCP’s Chief Medical Officer (or his designee) determines that the medical evidence is insufficient, an official laboratory test result must be requested.

3. Adjudication/Disposition

  1. All cases will be accepted for COVID-19 if the five basic elements set forth in 20 CFR 10.115 are established.
  2. The case will be denied if the medical evidence does not support that the injured worker contracted COVID-19 (where no laboratory report or medical evidence supporting the diagnosis is submitted).
  3. If the claim does not meet the five basic elements for acceptance, but the medical evidence supports the diagnosis of COVID-19, the case will be administratively closed and suspended for adjudication. The FECA Procedure Manual allows for administrative closure of cases without formal adjudication by claims staff2 for very simple/minor traumatic injuries that are not expected to involve large medical expenses. If the claim was filed within 30 days of the injury and the employee provides the evidence described in 20 CFR 10.210, the employee is entitled to Continuation of Pay (COP).3 The employer may terminate COP when the conditions outlined in 20 CFR 10.220 are met. Suspended adjudication does not constitute a formal denial, and the employee will be advised of the additional documentation needed should they wish to pursue their claim further.

4. Withdrawal of Claim. Certain COVID-19 claims may have been filed as a preventive for exposure only, due to quarantine, or otherwise filed prematurely. In such circumstances, an employee may decide not to pursue his or her claim. A claimant may withdraw his or her claim in writing (but not the notice of injury) at any time before OWCP determines eligibility for benefits. See 20 CFR 10.100 (b)(3). However, any COP granted to an employee after a claim is withdrawn must be charged to sick or annual leave, or considered an overpayment of pay consistent with 5 U.S.C. 5584, at the employee’s option.

5. Reopening Cases that were Administratively Closed and Suspended for Adjudication. Cases suspended for adjudication under item 3(c) above should be reopened for full development and adjudication if:

  1. The employee requests a formal decision; or
  2. The employee claims wage loss compensation after the expiration of the COP period. In this instance, supportive medical evidence from a physician on the relationship between the illness and the claimed disability and/or medical expenses is needed regardless of the employment determination (high-risk or not high-risk); or
  3. The medical bills or other related expenses submitted for payment on the case exceed $1,500.00.

6. Death benefits. Claims for COVID-19 death benefits are adjudicated in a manner similar to other claims for death benefits.

  1. The claimant has the burden of establishing the essential elements of the claim, which includes the existence of a causal relationship between an employee’s death and federal employment. Medical evidence addressing the cause and effect relationship between death and employment is required.
  2. The evidence must establish that the employee’s death was causally related to federal employment by cause, aggravation, acceleration, or precipitation. COVID-19 need not be the sole cause of death, and the fact that the employee may have had other non-work related medical conditions does not preclude a survivor’s entitlement to benefits.
  3. If the employment is considered high-risk, a positive COVID-19 laboratory test result is sufficient to find the COVID-19 was employment-related. If a COVID-19 laboratory test is not available, COVID-19 listed on the death certificate as a primary or contributing cause of death is also highly probative and will be considered along with the evidence discussed above.
  4. It is recognized that obtaining a positive COVID-19 laboratory rest result may not be possible in death cases and available medical records may be limited. As such, the claims examiner may refer the available factual and supportive medical evidence to OWCP’s Chief Medical Officer or a District Medical Advisor (DMA) for an opinion on the medical diagnosis and causal relationship where appropriate.

Applicability: Appropriate National and District Office personnel.

Disposition: This Bulletin is to be retained until incorporated unto the FECA Procedure Manual.

ANTONIO RIOS
Director for
Federal Employees’, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation

Distribution: All Appropriate DFELHWC Staff

1 OWCP’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) is currently a physician who holds a master’s degree in public health, and is certified as a specialist by the American Board of Preventive Medicine. The CMO is trained in disease prevention and control, risk assessment, risk management, and risk communication, and has extensive experience protecting military and civilian personnel from infectious disease, occupational injury, and environmental hazards.

2 See FECA Procedure Manual 1-0400-4. If the case is administratively closed for payment of expenses up to $1500, a letter is sent to the employee/claimant with his/her claim number providing information on how to access case information and how to submit documentation and medical reports in the event that medical bills are expected to exceed the established threshold (which would necessitate the case be reopened for formal adjudication by claims staff).

3 If COVID-19 is contracted during a single workday or shift, and therefore meets the definition of a traumatic injury (see 20 CFR 10.5(ee)), COP is payable. Since the date and time of transmission may not always be known due to the nature of the virus, OWCP DFELHWC will use the date of last exposure prior to the medical evidence establishing the COVID-19 diagnosis as the date of injury.

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FECA BULLETIN NO. 21-02

Issue Date: October 22, 2020


Subject: Telemedicine for Routine Appointments

Background: The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defines telehealth as “the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, and public health and health administration.”1

Under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA), the Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) may provide to an employee injured while in the performance of duty, the services, appliances, and supplies prescribed or recommended by a qualified physician, which OWCP considers "likely to cure, give relief, reduce the degree or the period of disability, or aid in lessening the amount of the monthly compensation." See 5 U.S.C. 8103.

While the FECA program has previously allowed telehealth services, in accordance with the discretion granted to DOL and delegated to OWCP, the FECA program is instituting a new policy concerning telehealth services available to employees receiving medical benefits under the FECA.

The FECA program is fully aware that some treating physicians or providers may be constrained in their ability to practice telemedicine by the requirements of either state law or their licensing authorities.  The FECA program does not have the authority to countermand or absolve physicians of their responsibility to follow those requirements, and recognizes that such requirements must be observed by the physicians to whom they apply. This includes the requirement that the physician must be physically located in the same state as the claimant’s residence while providing telemedicine (or must be licensed to practice medicine in the state where the claimant resides).

Telemedicine is optional, not required.

Purpose: To provide the FECA approved telehealth services and establish how telehealth services must be submitted for reimbursement.

Applicability: All FECA personnel and medical providers.

Reference: Federal (FECA) Procedure Manual, Part 5 Benefit Payments and Part 3 Medical, Chapter 3-0300 Authorizing Examination and Treatment, and Chapter 3-0400 Medical Services and Supplies. 20 C.F.R. § 10.300; 20 C.F.R. § 10.304; 20 C.F.R. § 10.310; 20 C.F.R. § 10.335.

Action:

  1. In accordance with FECA regulations, policies and procedures, authorized providers may provide routine medical care through telemedicine (when that care is associated directly with one or more accepted conditions), without pre-authorization. This includes physical and occupational therapy. Some services may still require authorization in accordance with FECA procedures, but there is no specific pre-authorization required to provide the service via telehealth.
     
  2. A provider may choose to conduct a routine medical appointment utilizing telemedicine options (including phone, video conferencing or similar technologies as permitted by state law) which the provider believes will provide the most appropriate medical benefit to the claimant. The provider should conduct telemedicine in private settings, such as a physician in a clinic or office connecting to a patient who is at home or at another clinic. Providers should carefully observe privacy precautions and use private locations; claimants should not receive telemedicine services in any other setting without the claimant’s consent. In the exercise of their professional judgment, the provider may determine that, to best meet the medical needs of the claimant, the telemedicine appointment may be facilitated by a medical professional on site with the claimant. In these circumstances, the physician may have a Registered Nurse (RN), Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner (APNP), or Physician Assistant (PA) present with the claimant during the telemedicine appointment. If a field nurse is assigned to the case, the nurse may participate telephonically in the appointment.
     
  3. There are a limited number of services approved by the FECA program that can be provided through telemedicine. Covered telehealth services are analogous with services payable by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) but are not inclusive of all CMS approved services. The FECA program may consider updates based on future needs of the program. See attachment.
     
  4. Provider types eligible to be reimbursed for telehealth services in the FECA program are limited to: 25 Physician, 32 Psychologist (with Specialty type 42 for psychiatrists), 77 Social Worker, 28 Chiropractor, 72 Occupational Therapist, and 71 Physical Therapist. Eligible provider types may be modified based on future needs of the program.
     
  5. Providers should bill utilizing appropriate modifiers, billing codes, and the claimant’s address as the location of delivery of the medical care if applicable. OWCP recognizes modifiers GT (via interactive audio and video telecommunications systems), GQ (via an asynchronous telecommunications system), and 95 (synchronous telemedicine service rendered via a real-time interactive audio and video telecommunications system) as required billing code modifiers for telehealth services. Providers should use the most appropriate place of service (POS) when billing. For telemedicine or home services the following POS should be used: 12 - Patient home (if the claimant is located at home during the visit).
     
  6. If other appropriate medical professionals participated in the telemedicine appointment, then they may bill using non-telemedicine billing codes appropriate to their visit in the home as long as they were not already in the home for another authorized, billable service.
     
  7. Along with the bill for services, the provider must provide the following information when the bill is submitted for payment:

    a) Appointment Notes that articulate the method of telemedicine that the provider employed and the length of visit (prolonged services in physical condition cases should be rare);

    b) Any vitals or medical evidence collected;

    c) An outline of the medical need and the benefit derived from the appointment, as it relates to the claimant’s accepted condition(s); and

    d) The additional contents of the notes should comport with the FECA Regulations set forth at 20 C.F.R. § 10.330.

  8. OWCP staff will conduct reviews of this documentation to monitor and verify that the requirements for payment were met. If discrepancies are identified, they will work with the provider to overcome issues prior to initiating recoupment of payments made or other action.

Disposition: This bulletin is effective 10/30/20 and is to be retained until incorporated into the FECA Procedure Manual.

 

ANTONIO RIOS
Director for
Division of Federal Employees', Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation

1 https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/faq/3015/what-is-telehealth/index.html

Attachment to Bulletin 21-02:
There are a limited number of services covered under Telehealth for FECA. This table lists the CPT/ HCPCS codes that can be billed for telehealth.

LIST OF ALLOWABLE TELEHEALTH SERVICES
Code Description
90785 Psytx complex interactive
90791 Psych diagnostic evaluation
90792 Psych diag eval w/med srvcs
90832 Psytx w pt 30 minutes
90833 Psytx w pt w e/m 30 min
90834 Psytx w pt 45 minutes
90836 Psytx w pt w e/m 45 min
90837 Psytx w pt 60 minutes
90838 Psytx w pt w e/m 60 min
90839 Psytx crisis initial 60 min
90840 Psytx crisis ea addl 30 min
90847 Family psytx w/pt 50 min
96136 Psycl/nrpsyc tst phy/qhp 1s
97110 Therapeutic exercises
97112 Neuromusulcar reeducation
97116 Gait training therapy
97161 PT Eval low complex 20 min
97162 PT Eval mod complex 30 min
97163 PT Eval high complex 45 min
97164 PT re-eval est plan care
97165 OT eval low complex 30 min
97166 OT eval mod complen 45 min
97167 OT eval high complex 60 min
97168 OT re-eval est plan care
97530 Therapeutic activities
97535 Self care mngment training
97542 Wheelchair mngment training
97750 Physical Performance Test
97755 Assistive Technology Assess
97760 Orthotic mgmt&traing 1st en
97761 Prosthetic traing 1st enc
99201 Office/outpatient visit new
99202 Office/outpatient visit new
99203 Office/outpatient visit new
99204 Office/outpatient visit new
99205 Office/outpatient visit new
99211 Office/outpatient visit est
99212 Office/outpatient visit est
99213 Office/outpatient visit est
99214 Office/outpatient visit est
99215 Office/outpatient visit est
99232 Subsequent hospital care
99354 Prolong e&m/psyctx serv o/p
99355 Prolong e&m/psyctx serv o/p
99367 Medical Team Conference
99421 Online digital e&m 5–10 min
99422 Online digital e&m 11-20 min
99423 Online digital e&m 21 or more min
99441 Phone e/m phys/qhp 5-10 min
99442 Phone e/m phys/qhp 11-20 min
99443 Phone e/m phys/qhp 21or more min
99080 Special Reports
G0508 Crit care telehea consult 60
Q3014 Telehealth originating site facility fee

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FECA BULLETIN NO. 21-03

Issue Date: February 18, 2021


Subject: Compensation Pay - Consumer Price Index (CPI) Cost-of-Living Adjustments.

Purpose: To furnish information on the CPI adjustment process for March 1, 2021.

The cost-of-living adjustments granted to a compensation recipient under the FECA are based on the “Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers” (CPI-W) figures published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The annual cost of living increase is calculated by comparing the base month from the prior year to the base month of the current year, with the percentage of increase adjusted to the nearest one-tenth of 1 percent. 5 U.S.C. §8146(a) establishes the base month for the FECA CPI as December.

December 2019 had a CPI-W level of 250.452 and the December 2020 level was reported by BLS as 254.081. This means that the new CPI increase, adjusted to the nearest one-tenth of one percent, is 1.4 percent. The increase is effective March 1, 2021, and is applicable where disability or death occurred before March 1, 2020. In addition, the new base month for calculating the future CPI is December 2020.

The maximum compensation rates1 , which must not be exceeded, are as follows:

$8,974.88 per month
$8,284.52 each four weeks
$2,071.13 per week
$414.23 per day (for a 5 day week)

Applicability: Appropriate FECA Program personnel.

Reference: FECA Consumer Price Index (CPI) Amendment, dated January 6, 1981; Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index Publication for December 2020 (USDL-21-0024).

Action: National Office Production will update the iFECS CPI tables and recalculate all payment records when the iFECS system is not in use by Office personnel. The March 26, 2021 will be the first check paid at the 2021 rate.

Please note that if there are any cases with fixed gross overrides, those cases must be reviewed to determine if CPI adjustment is necessary. If so, a manual calculation will be required. If the gross override payment is in fact eligible for annual CPI increases, the payment plate should be adjusted in the iFECS system to pay as a “Gross Override with CPI.”

  1. CPI Minimum and Maximum Adjustments Listings. Form CA-841, Cost-of-Living Adjustments; Form CA-842, Minimum Compensation Rates; and Form CA-843, Maximum Compensation Rates, should be updated to indicate the increase for 2021. Attached to this directive is a complete list of all the CPI increases and effective dates since October 1, 1966 through March 1, 2022, for reference.
     
  2. Verification of Compensation. If claimants write or call for verification of the amount of compensation paid (possibly for mortgage verification; insurance verification; loan application; etc.), please continue to provide this data in letter form from the district office. Many times a Benefit Statement may not reach the addressee and regeneration of the form is not possible. A letter indicating the amount of compensation paid every four weeks will be an adequate substitute for this purpose.

Disposition: This Bulletin is to be retained in Part 5, Benefit Payments, Federal (FECA) Procedure Manual, until further notice or the indicated expiration date.

 

ANTONIO RIOS
Director for
Division of Federal Employees’, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation

Attachment: Cost of Living Adjustments

Distribution: All FECA Program Staff


1 Per 2021 General Schedule (Base) 2021 General Schedule (Base).

ATTACHMENT TO FECA BULLETIN NO. 21-03

COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENTS
Under 5 USC §8146(a)

EFFECTIVE DATE

RATE

EFFECTIVE DATE

RATE

10/01/66

12.5%

03/01/90

4.50%

01/01/68

3.7%

03/01/91

6.1%

12/01/68

4.0%

03/01/92

2.8%

09/01/69

4.4%

03/01/93

2.5%

 

 

03/01/94

2.5%

06/01/70

4.4%

03/01/95

2.7%

03/01/71

4.0%

03/01/96

2.5%

05/01/72

3.9%

03/01/97

3.3%

06/01/73

4.8%

03/01/98

1.5%

01/01/74

5.2%

03/01/99

1.6%

07/01/74

5.3%

 

 

11/01/74

6.3%

03/01/00

2.8%

06/01/75

4.1%

03/01/01

3.3%

01/01/76

4.4%

03/01/02

1.3%

11/01/76

4.0%

03/01/03

2.4%

07/01/77

4.9%

03/01/04

1.6%

05/01/78

5.3%

03/01/05

3.4%

11/01/78

4.9%

03/01/06

3.5%

05/01/79

5.5%

03/01/07

2.4%

10/01/79

5.6%

03/01/08

4.3%

 

 

03/01/09

0.0%

04/01/80

7.2%

 

 

09/01/80

4.0%

03/01/10

3.4%

03/01/81

3.6%

03/01/11

1.7%

03/01/82

8.7%

03/01/12

3.2%

03/01/83

3.9%

03/01/13

1.7%

03/01/84

3.3%

03/01/14

1.5%

03/01/85

3.5%

03/01/15

0.3%

03/01/86

N/A

03/01/16

0.4%

03/01/87

0.7%

03/01/17

2.0%

03/01/88

4.5%

03/01/18

2.2%

03/01/89

4.4%

03/01/19

1.8%

   

03/01/20

2.3%

   

03/01/21

1.4%

Prior to September 7, 1974, the new compensation after adding the CPI is rounded to the nearest $1.00 on a monthly basis or the nearest multiple of $.23 on a weekly basis ($.23, $.46, $.69, or $.92). After September 7, 1974, the new compensation after adding the CPI is rounded to the nearest $1.00 on a monthly basis or the nearest $.25 on a weekly basis ($.25, $.50, $.75, or $1.00).

New compensation rates
Prior to 09/07/74 Eff. 11/1/74

.08-.34 = .23

.13-.37 = .25

.35-.57 = .46

.38-.62 = .50

.58-.80 = .69

.63-.87 = .75

.81-.07 = .92

.88-.12 = 1.00

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FECA BULLETIN NO. 21-04

Issue Date: February 18, 2021


Subject: Compensation Pay: Compensation Rate Changes for 2021.

Background: On December 31, 2020, the President signed an Executive Order increasing General Schedule basic pay rates for 2021.

Reference: 2021 General Schedule (Base).

Purpose: To inform the appropriate personnel of the minimum/maximum rates of compensation under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act for affected cases on the periodic disability and death payrolls.

The maximum compensation rate payable is based on the scheduled salary of a GS-15, Step 10 of $143,598 per annum. The basis for the minimum compensation rate of $22,194 is the salary of a GS-2, Step 1. The actual rates are outlined below.

Effective January 3, 2021

Type

Minimum

Maximum

Weekly

$320.11

$2,071.13

Daily (5-day week)

$64.02

$414.23

 

Effective January 3, 2021

Type

Minimum

Maximum

28-Day Cycle

$1,280.43

$8,284.52

 

Effective January 3, 2021

Type

Minimum

Maximum

Monthly

$1,849.50

$8,974.88

Action: The Integrated Federal Employees’ Compensation System (iFECS) was updated with the rate changes for the periodic disability and death payrolls.

Applicability: Appropriate National and District Office personnel

Disposition: This bulletin is to be retained in Part 5, Benefit Payments, Federal (FECA) Procedure Manual, until the indicated expiration date.

 

Antonio Rios
Director for
Division of Federal Employees’, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation

Distribution: All FECA Staff

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FECA BULLETIN NO. 21-05                                                                                                                                                                      February 18, 2021


Subject: Payment authorization on reimbursements exceeding $50,000

Purpose: This circular is being issued to modify the authorization process for medical reimbursements exceeding $50,000.

Authority: Under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA), the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) may provide to an employee injured while in the performance of duty, the services, appliances, and supplies prescribed or recommended by a qualified physician, which OWCP considers "likely to cure, give relief, reduce the degree or the period of disability, or aid in lessening the amount of the monthly compensation."

The below protocols supersede the reimbursement authorization process outlined in the FECA Procedure Manual, 5-202(15) and 5-202(16).

Action: Reimbursements exceeding $50,000 will no longer be forwarded to a District Director (DD) or designee for review. Authorizations will be made by the Chief or Assistant Chief of the Branch of Fiscal Operations or the National Director of Field Operations.

Reimbursements exceeding $50,000, including cases involving special indicators such as COVID-19 cases (COR), may also be reviewed by the Chief of the Branch of Program Integrity and/or the Deputy Director for Program Systems and Integrity in addition to the personnel listed above.

 

Antonio Rios
Director for
Division of Federal Employees’, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation

Distribution: All FECA Staff

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FECA BULLETIN NO. 21-06                                                                                                                                                                      March 3, 2021


Subject: Revised Process for Converting Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) Paper Cases into Fully Imaged Official Case Records

Background: In FY 2000, the then Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation (DFEC)1 which was responsible for administering the FECA program, one of the four programs within OWCP, deployed a new imaging system, the OWCP Automated System for Imaging Services (OASIS). All documents received by OWCP for the FECA program from that point forward were captured and stored only electronically for FECA cases. On February 21, 2001, the OWCP issued Bulletin 01-01, OASIS - Retention Schedule for Paper Documents. This bulletin outlined procedures for the destruction of documents that had been scanned into the FECA electronic file. On May 5, 2010, the OWCP issued Bulletin 10-01, Converting DFEC Paper Cases into Fully Imaged Official Case Records, which outlined procedures for converting paper files that were created prior to the deployment of imaging into fully imaged files and the resultant destruction of the paper components of the case files after conversion. In February 2002, the FECA program no longer added documents to any of the Paper Cases, instead scanning all incoming mail into the imaging system, and thus creating a cohort of Hybrid Case Files, which is a partially imaged record with the FECA program maintaining all paper files and documents received prior to that date.

Since that time, the district offices have converted many paper case file components into imaged documents, thereby creating a fully imaged record. Cases have been fully imaged for various reasons, including but not limited to the following: ease of management, prior to transferring a case to the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB) or Branch of Hearings and Review (BHR), Improper Payment Audits and prior to referring a case for a referee examination (see FECA Bulletin 05-01, Medical Exams/IME: Security of Case Records During the Referral Process).

Reference: OWCP Procedure Manual Chapter 1-0300

Purpose: To notify Offices of a change in the protocols and process for separating and audit requirements for paper case files that are converted to electronic cases records in order to fully image the remaining 52,000 case records currently maintained in the district offices.

Applicability: Claims Examiners, All Claims Supervisors, Medical Schedulers, District Medical Directors, Technical Assistants, System Managers, Staff Nurses, and Vocational Rehabilitation Specialists, OWCP Contractors

Action: New Protocol for Converting Paper Cases into Fully Imaged Official Case Records

  1. The following new protocol will apply to any cases scanned for Backfile Conversion, Privacy Act responses, MBE cases, and for BHR. It will not apply to cases currently being scanned for ECAB or Improper Payment audits, or cases subject to a Litigation Hold. The latter are to be maintained until the hold is release.
     
  2. The following forms in the paper case file must be imaged as distinct electronic documents viewable in the imaged case file and properly indexed.

    Forms CA1, CA2, CA-2a, CA-5, CA-6, CA-7, 7a’s, 7b’s, CA-8

  3. Acceptance Letters, Forms and all Formal Decisions in the paper case file must be imaged as distinct electronic documents viewable in the imaged case file and properly indexed.
     
  4. All other documents will be imaged together as one document in the same order as they are in the Paper Case Record and indexed as Misc./Converted Case Record.
     
  5. The received date for all other documents not listed in Action Item Four (4) will be 2/1/2002 (This is the date that OWCP/FECA stopped adding paper to existing files and began the creation of hybrid case records).
     
  6. An audit of documents within the paper case file is required to help verify that all documents have been properly associated with the electronic case record, that the documents have been properly categorized, and that the imaged documents are of an acceptable quality. Two percent of all documents must be sampled from the paper case file. In addition to the random sample all of the following documents must also be verified as appropriately imaged and indexed: Forms CA1, CA2, CA-2a, CA-5, CA-6, CA-7, 7a’s, 7b’s, CA-8.
     
  7. The person(s) assigned to perform the audit must be documented in the record.
     
  8. Once the case file has been completely imaged and audited for accuracy, the District Director or designee must take the following steps:

    a) Change the Fully Imaged indicator in iFECS to "Y"
    b) Image a copy of the Fully Imaged Case Memo (See Attachment 1)
    c) Index this memo as MISC/Fully Imaged Memo

  9. After these actions have been taken, the electronic record will then be classified as the official case record for that case.
     
  10. The paper case file must be retained for no less than seven (7) work days from the date the case file was fully converted to electronic images and the instructions in Section 8 completed. If no problems arise during this period, the paper case documents may be destroyed after the end of the seven (7) work day period.

Disposition: This Bulletin is to be retained until incorporated into Part 1 of the OWCP Procedure Manual.

ANTONIO RIOS
Director for
Division of Federal Employees’, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation

Distribution: All FECA Program Staff and Contractors

1 In FY 2020, the FECA program and the Longshore program were combined into a new division called Division of Federal Employees, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation (DFELHWC)

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FECA BULLETIN NO. 21-07                                                                                                                                                                      March 9, 2021


Subject: New FECA Pharmacy Benefits Management System

Purpose: To announce the implementation of a Pharmacy Benefits Management (PBM) System by the Office of Workers' Compensation's (OWCP) Division of Federal Employees', Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation for the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) program.

Background: Pharmacy benefit managers are third-party administrators (TPA) of prescription drug programs for commercial health plans, self-insured employer plans, Federal and State government employee health plans. PBMs are primarily responsible for developing and maintaining formularies which include an approved listing of prescriptions, contracting with pharmacies to increase enrollment, negotiating discounts and rebates with drug manufacturers and processing and paying prescription drug claims.

In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 8103 and 20 C.F.R. 10.809, OWCP has contracted with Optum to serve as FECA’s PBM for claimants covered under the FECA. OWCP’s FECA PBM will be responsible for pharmaceutical transactions including implementation of FECA eligibility determinations and pricing for pharmaceutical drugs provided to FECA claimants. All FECA claimants will be required to use the OWCP FECA PBM for prescribed drugs; otherwise, payment of drugs will not be authorized at the pharmacy. The PBM will pay network pharmacies directly and then seek reimbursement for those payments from FECA’s Employees’ Compensation Fund.

The FECA PBM will also be phasing in an optional Durable Medical Equipment (DME) and diagnostic testing component.

Actions: PBM implementation will be accomplished in a phased approach. In order to receive pharmacy benefits, injured workers must present their new pharmacy cards to a participating pharmacy along with prescriptions for their accepted, work-related condition(s). A listing of participating pharmacies can be found on the internet at www.ecomp.dol.gov. Further assistance in locating or verifying a participating pharmacy or transferring a prescription can be obtained by contacting Optum at 1-833-FECA-PBM.

  1. Optum/FECA pharmacy cards and welcome letters will be mailed to current FECA claimants in multiple groupings. Due to urgent safety concerns, welcome packets will first be mailed by April 1, 2021, to claimants who have been prescribed opioids with daily dosages exceeding the 90 MED (Morphine Equivalent Dose). Pharmacy Cards and welcome letters for the remainder of the FECA claimants will first be mailed by April 30, 2021. All Pharmacy cards will include a Bank Identification Number (BIN), the date the cards become effective, a PBM toll-free number for information, as well as claimant-specific information. Once the FECA PBM is phased in, use of an employing agency pharmacy (PBM) program is no longer permissible.

  2. Additional phases are estimated to be deployed over the next several months of Fiscal Year 2021, and will include the development and implementation of a (1) formulary management system (2) user interface for pharmacy authorization transmittals (3) utilization review programs (4) DME and diagnostic testing programs along with other programs to assist FECA claimants and FECA program staff. Subsequent FECA Bulletins containing the details of those phases will be issued once those phases are ready for deployment.
     
  3. Additional information and updates will be posted on the FECA website and provided to the subscriber list references on the FECA website.

 

ANTONIO RIOS
Director for
Division of Federal Employees’, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation

Distribution: All DFELHWC Staff

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FECA BULLETIN NO. 21-08                                                                                                                                                                      March 26, 2021


Subject: Telemedicine for Routine Appointments – Updated

This Bulletin supersedes FECA Bulletin 21-02

On October 22, 2020, the Division of Federal Employees', Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation – Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) Program published FECA Bulletin No. 21-02 (Telemedicine for Routine Appointments) to outline FECA’s telehealth policy. Since that date, FECA’s Program Integrity Unit (PIU) has reviewed billing data to evaluate compliance. Based on those findings, the FECA program is making minor updates to the existing policy.

  1. The following codes are being added as payable telehealth services since the PIU determined these codes are necessary and/or customary for treatment of work-related injuries:
         96130 PSYCL TST EVAL PHYS/QHP 1ST
         96131 PSYCL TST EVAL PHYS/QHP EA
         96132 NRPSYC TST EVAL PHYS/QHP 1ST
         96133 NRPSYC TST EVAL PHYS/QHP EA
         96137 PSYCL/NRPSYC TST EVAL PHYS/QHP EA
         96138 PSYCL/NRPSYC TECH 1ST
         S9999 Sales Tax (as required by law e.g. HI)

  2. The following CPT codes are being removed:
         99421 online digital evaluation - 5-10 minutes
         99422 online digital evaluation - 11-20 minutes
         99423 online digital evaluation - 21 or more minutes
    The PIU determined they were incorrectly added during the initial policy implementation, were not billed at all as telehealth services since policy implementation in October 2020, and there are other covered codes that could be used for services.

  3. Two additional provider types are being approved for telehealth services:
         Podiatrists
         Insurance Company (Third Party Carriers) if the originating provider type
         and procedure codes are within established policy

  4. Requirements for telehealth medical reports (to include the length of visit) are being emphasized since some reports reviewed by the PIU were determined to be insufficient.

For ease of use, FECA is re-publishing the contents of FECA Bulletin 21-02 in its entirety with the above updates incorporated as part of this Bulletin

The effective date for the new policy is March 27, 2021.

Background (from Bulletin No. 21-02):

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defines telehealth as “the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, and public health and health administration.”1

Under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA), the Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) may provide to an employee injured while in the performance of duty, the services, appliances, and supplies prescribed or recommended by a qualified physician, which OWCP considers "likely to cure, give relief, reduce the degree or the period of disability, or aid in lessening the amount of the monthly compensation." See 5 U.S.C. 8103.

While the FECA program has previously allowed telehealth services, in accordance with the discretion granted to DOL and delegated to OWCP, the FECA program is instituting a new policy concerning telehealth services available to employees receiving medical benefits under the FECA.

The FECA program is fully aware that some treating physicians or providers may be constrained in their ability to practice telemedicine by the requirements of either state law or their licensing authorities.  The FECA program does not have the authority to countermand or absolve physicians of their responsibility to follow those requirements, and recognizes that such requirements must be observed by the physicians to whom they apply. This includes the requirement that the physician must be physically located in the same state as the claimant’s residence while providing telemedicine (or must be licensed to practice medicine in the state where the claimant resides).

Telemedicine is optional, not required.

Purpose: To provide the FECA approved telehealth services and establish how telehealth services must be submitted for reimbursement.

Applicability: All FECA personnel and medical providers.

Reference: Federal (FECA) Procedure Manual, Part 5 Benefit Payments and Part 3 Medical, Chapter 3-0300 Authorizing Examination and Treatment, and Chapter 3-0400 Medical Services and Supplies. 20 C.F.R. § 10.300; 20 C.F.R. § 10.304; 20 C.F.R. § 10.310; 20 C.F.R. § 10.335.

Action (Revised and Updated from Bulletin No. 21-02):

  1. In accordance with FECA regulations, policies and procedures, authorized providers may provide routine medical care through telemedicine (when that care is associated directly with one or more accepted conditions), without pre-authorization. This includes physical and occupational therapy. Some services may still require authorization in accordance with FECA procedures, but there is no specific pre-authorization required to provide the service via telehealth.
  2. A provider may choose to conduct a routine medical appointment utilizing telemedicine options (including phone, video conferencing or similar technologies as permitted by state law) which the provider believes will provide the most appropriate medical benefit to the claimant. The provider should conduct telemedicine in private settings, such as a physician in a clinic or office connecting to a patient who is at home or at another clinic. Providers should carefully observe privacy precautions and use private locations; claimants should not receive telemedicine services in any other setting without the claimant’s consent. In the exercise of their professional judgment, the provider may determine that, to best meet the medical needs of the claimant, the telemedicine appointment may be facilitated by a medical professional on site with the claimant. In these circumstances, the physician may have a Registered Nurse (RN), Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner (APNP), or Physician Assistant (PA) present with the claimant during the telemedicine appointment. If a field nurse is assigned to the case, the nurse may participate telephonically in the appointment.
  3. There are a limited number of services approved by the FECA program that can be provided through telemedicine. Covered telehealth services are analogous with services payable by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) but are not inclusive of all CMS approved services. The FECA program may consider updates based on future needs of the program. See attached “List of Allowable Telehealth Services”.
  4. Provider types eligible to be reimbursed for telehealth services in the FECA program are limited to: 25 Physician, 32 Psychologist (with Specialty type 42 for psychiatrists), 77 Social Worker, 28 Chiropractor, 27 Podiatrist, 72 Occupational Therapist, 71 Physical Therapist, and 95 Insurance Company (Third Party Carriers), if the originating provider type and procedure codes are within established policy. Eligible provider types may be modified based on future needs of the program.
  5. Providers should bill utilizing appropriate modifiers, billing codes, and the claimant’s address as the location of delivery of the medical care if applicable. OWCP recognizes modifiers GT (via interactive audio and video telecommunications systems), GQ (via an asynchronous telecommunications system), and 95 (synchronous telemedicine service rendered via a real-time interactive audio and video telecommunications system) as required billing code modifiers for telehealth services. Providers should use the most appropriate place of service (POS) when billing. For telemedicine or home services the following POS should be used: 12 - Patient home (if the claimant is located at home during the visit).
  6. If other appropriate medical professionals participated in the telemedicine appointment, then they may bill using non-telemedicine billing codes appropriate to their visit in the home as long as they were not already in the home for another authorized, billable service.
  7. Along with the bill for services, the provider must provide the following information when the bill is submitted for payment:

    a) Appointment Notes that articulate the method of telemedicine that the provider employed and the length of visit (prolonged services in physical condition cases should be rare)

    • Including the length of the visit is required as this allows the FECA Program the ability to verify that the services provided have been accurately reported and billed;

    b) Any vitals or medical evidence collected;

    c) An outline of the medical need and the benefit derived from the appointment, as it relates to the claimant’s accepted condition(s); and

    d) The additional contents of the notes should comport with the FECA Regulations set forth at 20 C.F.R. § 10.330.

  8. OWCP staff will conduct reviews of this documentation to monitor and verify that the requirements for payment were met. If discrepancies are identified, they will work with the provider to overcome issues prior to initiating recoupment of payments made or other action.

Disposition: This bulletin is effective March 27, 2021 and is to be retained until incorporated into the FECA Procedure Manual.

 

ANTONIO RIOS
Director for
Division of Federal Employees’, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation

1 https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/faq/3015/what-is-telehealth/index.html

Attachment to Bulletin 21-08:
There are a limited number of services covered under Telehealth for FECA. This table lists the CPT/ HCPCS codes that can be billed for telehealth.

LIST OF ALLOWABLE TELEHEALTH SERVICES
Code Description
90785 Psytx complex interactive
90791 Psych diagnostic evaluation
90792 Psych diag eval w/med srvcs
90832 Psytx w pt 30 minutes
90833 Psytx w pt w e/m 30 min
90834 Psytx w pt 45 minutes
90836 Psytx w pt w e/m 45 min
90837 Psytx w pt 60 minutes
90838 Psytx w pt w e/m 60 min
90839 Psytx crisis initial 60 min
90840 Psytx crisis ea addl 30 min
90847 Family psytx w/pt 50 min
96130 PSYCL TST EVAL PHYS/QHP 1ST
96131 PSYCL TST EVAL PHYS/QHP EA
96132 NRPSYC TST EVAL PHYS/QHP 1ST
96133 NRPSYC TST EVAL PHYS/QHP EA
96136 Psycl/nrpsyc tst phy/qhp 1s
96137 PSYCL/NRPSYC TST EVAL PHYS/QHP EA
96138 PSYCL/NRPSYC TECH 1ST
97110 Therapeutic exercises
97112 Neuromusulcar reeducation
97116 Gait training therapy
97161 PT Eval low complex 20 min
97162 PT Eval mod complex 30 min
97163 PT Eval high complex 45 min
97164 PT re-eval est plan care
97165 OT eval low complex 30 min
97166 OT eval mod complen 45 min
97167 OT eval high complex 60 min
97168 OT re-eval est plan care
97530 Therapeutic activities
97535 Self care mngment training
97542 Wheelchair mngment training
97750 Physical Performance Test
97755 Assistive Technology Assess
97760 Orthotic mgmt&traing 1st en
97761 Prosthetic traing 1st enc
99201 Office/outpatient visit new
99202 Office/outpatient visit new
99203 Office/outpatient visit new
99204 Office/outpatient visit new
99205 Office/outpatient visit new
99211 Office/outpatient visit est
99212 Office/outpatient visit est
99213 Office/outpatient visit est
99214 Office/outpatient visit est
99215 Office/outpatient visit est
99232 Subsequent hospital care
99354 Prolong e&m/psyctx serv o/p
99355 Prolong e&m/psyctx serv o/p
99367 Medical Team Conference
99441 Phone e/m phys/qhp 5-10 min
99442 Phone e/m phys/qhp 11-20 min
99443 Phone e/m phys/qhp 21or more min
99080 Special Reports
G0508 Crit care telehea consult 60
Q3014 Telehealth originating site facility fee

 

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FECA BULLETIN NO. 21-09 April 28, 2021

Subject: Processing FECA Claims for COVID-19 under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

Background: The Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) covers injury in the performance of duty; injury includes a disease proximately caused by federal employment. The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) Division of Federal Employees', Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation (DFELHWC) administers the FECA. The FECA provides to an employee injured while in the performance of duty, the services, appliances, and supplies prescribed or recommended by a qualified physician, which OWCP considers "likely to cure, give relief, reduce the degree or the period of disability, or aid in lessening the amount of the monthly compensation." See 5 U.S.C. 8103. The FECA pays compensation for the disability or death of an employee resulting from injury in the performance of duty.

On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) was signed into law. This new legislation streamlines the process for federal workers diagnosed with COVID-19 to establish coverage under the FECA. Specifically, Section 4016 of the ARPA provides that a “covered employee” as defined below shall, with respect to any claim made by or on behalf of the covered employee for benefits under the FECA, be deemed to have an injury proximately caused by exposure to COVID-19 arising out of the nature of the covered employee’s employment.

Under Section 4016 of the ARPA, the term “covered employee” means an individual:

  • Who is an employee under Section 8101(1) of title 5, United States Code, employed in the Federal service at any time during the period beginning on January 27, 2020, and ending on January 27, 2023;
  • Who is diagnosed with COVID–19 during such period; and
  • Who, during a covered exposure period prior to such diagnosis, carries out duties that—
    • require contact with patients, members of the public, or co-workers; or
    • include a risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus.

Previously, COVID-19 claims under the FECA were processed under the guidelines provided by FECA Bulletin No. 20-05 (released March 31, 2020) and FECA Bulletin No. 21-01 (released October 21, 2020). This Bulletin supersedes FECA Bulletins 20-05 and 21-01.

With respect to all COVID-19 cases processed under the ARPA, no benefits are payable after September 30, 2030. This statutory limitation on benefits does not apply to COVID-19 claims accepted prior to March 12, 2021.

Purpose: To provide guidance regarding the processing of COVID-19 FECA claims as set forth in the ARPA.

Actions:

I. Cases Processed Prior to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

  1. Previously Accepted Cases. Any COVID-19 claim filed under the FECA that was accepted for COVID-19 prior to March 12, 2021 is not impacted because coverage for benefits had already been extended. Any case accepted on or before March 11, 2021 (the date of enactment) is not an ARPA case; such cases are not subject to Section 4016’s limitation that no benefits may be paid after September 30, 2030.

  2. Previously Denied Cases. The FECA program will review all COVID-19 claims previously denied based on a lack of federal exposure or a lack of medical evidence establishing causal relationship to determine if the claim can now be accepted under the ARPA. This will occur without a request from the claimant. If the FECA program determines that the case can now be accepted under the ARPA, the case will be reopened under the Director’s own motion under Section 8128(a) of the FECA, and the case will be accepted. If this occurs, the claimant and Employing agency will be notified. The case will be converted to a “19” prefix case and the C19 indicator will be added as addressed in paragraph III below.

  3. Previously Administratively Closed Cases. No action will be taken based on the ARPA on COVID-19 cases already administratively closed. The claimant remains eligible for Continuation of Pay (COP) pursuant to 20 CFR 10.205 - 224, if Form CA-1 was timely filed, and medical bills for basic treatment incurred for COVID-19, to include any testing, are still payable up to $1500. However, any future actions, if necessary, will be taken in accordance with the ARPA since the claim had not been formally accepted, so each of these cases has been converted to a “19” prefix case, and the C19 indicator will be added as addressed in paragraph III below.

II. Filing of Cases under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

  1. Form Filing Process. The Employees’ Compensation and Management Portal (ECOMP) should be used to file new claims as the form filing process in ECOMP has been updated to assist claimants and employing agencies with filing claims for COVID-19 on a CA-1.

  2. Use of the CA-1. The FECA program considers COVID-19 to be a traumatic injury since it is contracted during a single workday or shift (see 20 CFR 10.5(ee)), and considers the date of last exposure prior to the medical evidence establishing the COVID-19 diagnosis as the Date of Injury since the precise time of transmission may not always be known due to the nature of the virus.

  3. Update to the CA-1 in ECOMP. To assist the FECA Program with collecting necessary information to make determinations under the ARPA, the claimant and agency are provided with specific instructions that are intended to supplement the routine claim filing questions. These instructions are documented in the attachment to this Bulletin.

III. Creation of Cases under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

  1. Creation and Administrative Closure of Cases. Consistent with PM 1-0400.4, cases not expected to involve large medical expenses or extended disability may be administratively closed without formal adjudication by claims staff. COVID-19 cases filed under the ARPA will administratively close like other cases, and assignment of Triage Nurses will occur using the same criteria as other cases.

  2. Nature of Injury, Cause of Injury and Location of Injury Codes. All cases filed after March 11, 2021 for COVID-19 will use the following codes:
     

    Nature of Injury - COVID-19 (T9)
    Cause of Injury - Exposure to COVID-19 (9C)
    Location of Injury - COVID-19 (ZZ)


  3. Case Indicator. For COVID-19 claims filed after March 11, 2021, a new internal special tracking indicator (C19 – COVID-19) will be assigned. This replaces the previous indicator (COR). Cases received on and prior to March 11, 2021 that were pending adjudication will have their case indicator changed from COR to C19.

  4. Case Prefix. All cases filed after March 11, 2021 for COVID-19 will have a prefix “19” rather than the current prefix “55” used in other new FECA claims. Cases received on or prior to March 11, 2021, that were pending adjudication will have their case number changed such that the prefix is “19.”

  5. Case Number Conversion Notification. In all instances where a case number is changed to a “19” prefix, regardless of the reason, a letter will be sent to the claimant and agency notifying them of the change.

IV. Case Adjudication Procedures under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

  1. Employee. The claims examiner should make a determination as to whether the employee is an employee under 5 U.S.C. 8101(1) of the FECA and whether he or she was diagnosed with COVID-19 (in accordance with paragraph 2 below) between January 27, 2020, and January 27, 2023. If it is determined that the employee was an employee under Section 8101(1) but diagnosed with COVID-19 outside of the period of January 27, 2020, through January 27, 2023, routine FECA case handling procedures apply.

    Individuals otherwise covered under FECA but not covered under Section 8101(1) of title 5, United States Code are not covered under the ARPA and routine FECA case handling procedures apply. Examples include state or local law enforcement officers not employed by the United States who are covered under 5 U.S.C. 8191-8193.

  2. Diagnosis of COVID-19. In order to establish a diagnosis of COVID-19, an employee (or survivor) should submit:
     

    a. A positive Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test result; or

    b. A positive Antibody or Antigen COVID-19 test result, together with contemporaneous medical evidence that the claimant had documented symptoms of and/or was treated for COVID-19 by a physician (a notice to quarantine is not sufficient if there was no evidence of illness); or

    c. If no positive laboratory test is available, a COVID-19 diagnosis from a physician together with rationalized medical opinion supporting the diagnosis and an explanation as to why a positive test result is not available.

    In certain rare instances, a physician may provide a rationalized opinion with supporting factual and medical background as to why the employee has a diagnosis of COVID-19 notwithstanding a negative or series of negative COVID-19 test results.

    Medical reports from nurses or physician assistants are acceptable if a licensed physician cosigns the report.

  3. Covered Exposure. The employee is deemed to have had exposure if, during the covered exposure period, he or she carries out (1) duties that require a physical interaction with at least one other person (a patient, a member of the public, or a co-worker) in the course of employment duties, or (2) duties that otherwise include a risk of exposure to COVID-19. The interaction does not have to be direct physical contact. Nor is there a specified time for such interaction, any duration qualifies. General office contact and interaction is sufficient. This includes but is not limited to interaction in shared workspaces such as lunchrooms, break areas and common restrooms.

  4. Covered Exposure Period. The evidence should establish manifestation of COVID-19 symptoms (or positive test result) within 21 days of the covered exposure described in paragraph 3 above.

    Existing medical literature suggests that the incubation period of COVID-19 is between two and 14 days; however, the use of 21 days acknowledges an employee’s potential delay in seeking professional medical evaluation and treatment.

  5. Teleworking Employees. An employee that is exclusively teleworking during a covered exposure period is not considered a “covered employee” under the ARPA. For such cases, routine FECA case handling procedures apply.

  6. Adjudication and Disposition of Claims.
     

    a. Claim Acceptances: If, following any appropriate development, the evidence establishes that the employee meets the definition of “covered employee” under Section 4016 of the ARPA, the employee’s COVID-19 will be deemed proximately caused by Federal employment and the claim will be accepted for COVID-19.

    b. Claim Denials: If, following appropriate development, the evidence fails to establish that the employee was diagnosed with COVID-19, the claim will generally be denied on that basis. If, following appropriate development, the evidence fails to establish any covered exposure during a covered exposure period as defined in paragraphs 1, 3, 4 and 5 above, the claim will generally be denied based upon the failure to establish exposure to COVID-19 occurred in the performance of Federal employment.

    d. Withdrawal of Claim: Certain COVID-19 claims may have been filed preventatively for exposure only, due to quarantine, or otherwise filed prematurely. In such circumstances, an employee may decide not to pursue his or her claim. A claimant may withdraw his or her claim in writing (but not the notice of injury) at any time before OWCP determines eligibility for benefits. See 20 CFR 10.100 (b)(3). However, any COP granted to an employee after a claim is withdrawn must be charged to sick or annual leave, or considered an overpayment of pay consistent with 5 U.S.C. 5584, at the employee's option.

  7. Duplicate Claims. Generally, a claim for COVID-19 will not be considered a new injury unless the date of injury is more than 1 year from the date of injury of any prior accepted COVID-19 claim for the same employee. Rather it will be combined with the existing claim and developed as necessary as a consequential or recurrence claim.

  8. Claims for Disability. The ARPA outlines the criteria to determine whether COVID-19 is deemed proximately caused by federal employment. However, acceptance of the claim for work-related COVID-19 does not alter the claimant’s burden of proof for establishing disability, the need for ongoing medical treatment and any claim for a consequential condition. See PM 2-0901.5(a)(2).

  9. Death Claims. The criteria to determine whether COVID-19 is deemed proximately caused by federal employment are the same for claims involving death. However, in death cases, the FECA program will also ask for evidence and records to support that the death was the result of COVID-19, or that COVID-19 was a contributing cause of death. This will typically include hospital records showing treatment, a hospital death discharge summary detailing the cause of death, and/or a death certificate but may also include other documentation depending on the circumstances of the case.

V. Non-Chargeable Flag

In accordance with Section 4016(d) of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, all cases flagged as an ARPA case with the “19” prefix will be flagged as non-chargeable in the FECA database, meaning it will not be included in annual chargeback billing.

Disposition: This Bulletin is to be retained until incorporated into the FECA Procedure Manual.

 

ANTONIO RIOS
Director for
Division of Federal Employees’, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation

Distribution: All DFELHWC – FECA Program Staff

Attachment: CA-1 ECOMP Prompts for COVID-19 Claims under the ARPA

Attachment to FECA Bulletin 21-09
CA-1 ECOMP Prompts for COVID-19 Claims under the ARPA

A. Claimant Portion of the CA-1. Upon selecting to file a new claim in ECOMP, the claimant is provided a new option to file a COVID specific CA-1. If they choose this option, the following prompts will supplement the routine process:

  1. Date and Time Injury Occurred. The claimant is asked about the last date he or she was exposed to others in the work setting prior to the onset of COVID-19 symptoms or a positive COVID-19 test result.
  2. Cause of Injury. The claimant is asked to explain what individuals he or she was exposed to in the workplace and the nature and extent of the interaction(s).
  3. Nature of Injury. The claimant is asked to explain symptoms related to COVID-19, whether he or she has received a positive test result for COVID-19 and whether he or she has consulted with a medical professional.
  4. Upload Attachments Option. The claimant is asked specifically to upload a copy of a COVID-19 positive test result and any documentation of interactions with a medical professional.

B. Supervisor Portion of the CA-1. In COVID-19 claims, agencies are provided with specific questions that deviate from the routine process as outlined below:

  1. Performance of Duty (POD). The employing agency is advised to only indicate the employee is not in POD if the employee was not working or was teleworking on the date of injury, or if the supervisor disagrees substantively with the employee’s description of injury.

  2. Third Party Liability. The answer to this question will default to no third party liability for COVID-19 cases.

  3. Anatomical Location, Nature of Injury, Cause of Injury. These responses will be automatically filled in accordance with the codes in section III, part 2 of this Bulletin.

  4. Agreement with the Employee. The employing agency will be advised to only indicate “no” if the employee was not working or was teleworking on the date of injury, or if the supervisor disagrees substantively with the employee’s description of injury.

  5. Controversion of COP. The employing agency will be advised to only controvert COP if one of the specific nine regulatory reasons applies. That reason must be selected and explained.

  6. CA-16. The employing agency is prompted to provide a CA-16 if they do not substantively dispute the employee’s description of Cause and Nature of Injury, and if the claim was submitted within 1 week of the Date of Injury, or the date the employee had symptoms of COVID-19 or received a positive test result. Issuing the CA-16 will allow the claimant to obtain the necessary test to confirm COVID-19 and receive medical treatment, if indicated.

Back to Top of FECA Bulletin No. 21-09


 


FECA BULLETIN NO. 21-10 August 18, 2021

Subject: Establishing FECA Claims for COVID-19 under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 through Antigen Testing

Background: The Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) covers injury in the performance of duty; injury includes a disease proximately caused by federal employment. The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) Division of Federal Employees', Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation (DFELHWC) administers the FECA. The FECA provides to an employee injured while in the performance of duty, the services, appliances, and supplies prescribed or recommended by a qualified physician, which OWCP considers "likely to cure, give relief, reduce the degree or the period of disability, or aid in lessening the amount of the monthly compensation." See 5 U.S.C. 8103. The FECA pays compensation for the disability or death of an employee resulting from injury in the performance of duty.

On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) was signed into law. This new legislation streamlined the process for federal workers diagnosed with COVID-19 to establish coverage under the FECA.

On April 28, 2021, the FECA Program issued FECA Bulletin 21-09, which provided detailed processing procedures for claims for COVID-19 filed under the ARPA.

FECA Bulletin 21-09 provided that, in order to establish a diagnosis of COVID-19, an employee (or survivor) should submit:

a. A positive Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test result; or

b. A positive Antibody or Antigen COVID-19 test result, together with contemporaneous medical evidence that the claimant had documented symptoms of and/or was treated for COVID-19 by a physician (a notice to quarantine is not sufficient if there was no evidence of illness); or

c. If no positive laboratory test is available, a COVID-19 diagnosis from a physician together with rationalized medical opinion supporting the diagnosis and an explanation as to why a positive test result is not available.

In certain rare instances, a physician may provide a rationalized opinion with supporting factual and medical background as to why the employee has a diagnosis of COVID-19 notwithstanding a negative or series of negative COVID-19 test results.

Antigen tests detect specific proteins on the surface of the coronavirus. They are sometimes referred to as rapid diagnostic tests because it can take less than an hour to get the test results. Positive antigen test results are highly specific, meaning that if you test positive you are very likely to be infected.1

As antigen testing has become more prevalent over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FECA Program will no longer require contemporaneous medical evidence submitted together with an antigen test to establish the diagnosis of COVID-19. Submission of an antigen test alone is now sufficient to establish the medical component of a COVID-19 claim.

Purpose: To provide amended guidance regarding the processing of COVID-19 FECA claims as set forth in the ARPA.

Actions:

1. Diagnosis of COVID-19. With respect to Case Adjudication procedures under the ARPA, the following diagnostic criteria now apply:

In order to establish a diagnosis of COVID-19, an employee (or survivor) should submit:

a. A positive Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) or Antigen COVID-19 test result; or

b. A positive Antibody test result, together with contemporaneous medical evidence that the claimant had documented symptoms of and/or was treated for COVID-19 by a physician (a notice to quarantine is not sufficient if there was no evidence of illness); or

c. If no positive laboratory test is available, a COVID-19 diagnosis from a physician together with rationalized medical opinion supporting the diagnosis and an explanation as to why a positive test result is not available.

In certain rare instances, a physician may provide a rationalized opinion with supporting factual and medical background as to why the employee has a diagnosis of COVID-19 notwithstanding a negative or series of negative COVID-19 test results.

Medical reports from nurses or physician assistants are acceptable if a licensed physician cosigns the report.

2. Previously Denied Cases. The FECA program will review all COVID-19 claims previously denied in accordance with the guidance provided in FECA Bulletin 21-09 based on the submission of an antigen test without contemporaneous medical to determine if the claim can now be accepted. This will occur without a request from the claimant. If the FECA program determines that the case can now be accepted under the ARPA, the case will be reopened under the Director's own motion under Section 8128(a) of the FECA, and the case will be accepted. If this occurs, the claimant and employing agency will be notified.

Disposition: This Bulletin amends FECA Bulletin 21-09 and is to be retained until incorporated into the FECA Procedure Manual.

--------
1 https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/if-youve-been-exposed-to-the-coronavirus

 

ANTONIO RIOS
Director for
Division of Federal Employees’, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation

Distribution: All DFELHWC – FECA Program Staff

Back to Top of FECA Bulletin No. 21-10


 


FECA BULLETIN NO. 21-11

Issue Date: September 1, 2021


Subject: Retention of the American Medical Association's Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 6th Edition (2009).

Background: The schedule award provisions of the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) at 5 U.S.C. 8107 and its implementing regulations at 20 C.F.R. 10.404 establish the compensation payable to employees sustaining permanent impairment. For consistent results, and to ensure equal justice under the law to all claimants, good administrative practice necessitates the use of a single set of tables with uniform standards applicable to all claimants. The American Medical Association's (AMA) Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment has been adopted by the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) FECA Program as the appropriate standard for evaluating schedule losses. In January 2008, the AMA published the Sixth Edition of the Guides, noting that the Guides are revised periodically to incorporate current scientific clinical knowledge and judgment. This Edition implemented substantial reforms to the methodology of calculating permanent impairment. In accordance with its established practice, the FECA Program moved forward to this most recent version of the Guides in evaluating permanent impairment.

In August 2008, a 54-page "Clarifications and Corrections, Sixth Edition, Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment" was distributed. The 54-page publication specified clarifications and corrections to the original printing of the Sixth Edition of the Guides. Subsequently, the FECA Program adopted this most recent version of the Sixth Edition of the Guides on March 15, 2009, with an effective date of May 1, 2009. See FECA Bulletin 09-03. The most recent version of the Sixth Edition at that time was the second printing of the Sixth Edition in 2009, which incorporated the clarifications and corrections which were published in August 2008.

In April 2021, the AMA announced the commencement of regular updates to the Sixth Edition of the Guides. In addition, the AMA further reported a transition to a digital platform and subscription service for the current and all future updates to the Sixth Edition of the Guides. These updates are to be posted on the AMA Guides Digital Website approximately three months prior to their effective date.

The first update to the Sixth Edition made in accordance with the new AMA policy, AMA Sixth Edition 2021, was made available on April 1, 2021 and became effective on July 1, 2021.

All substantive updates made in the AMA Sixth Edition 2021 relate to mental and behavioral health conditions, including changes in terminology and methodology related to the mental and behavioral health content1. As the FECA Program has no statutory or regulatory authority to provide schedule awards for mental health impairment, the changes in AMA Sixth Edition 2021, if adopted by the Program, would not have any significant impact on its schedule award impairment calculations.

As noted above, the FECA Program has been using the Sixth Edition since 2009. In that time, the Program has worked with its attending physicians, second opinion and referee physicians, and District Medical Advisors to provide clear, consistent, and accurate impairment ratings using this version of the Guides Adoption of the AMA Sixth Edition 2021 at this time would place an undue burden on the Program's stakeholders. It would require the procurement, learning, and understanding of a new and digital edition of the Guides despite such edition having no material impact on impairment ratings provided under the FECA.

As such, it is in the best interest of the FECA Program to retain the second printing of the Sixth Edition (2009) at this time. Future updates of the Guides will continue to be monitored and updated versions may be adopted depending on their impact on the FECA Program and alignment with its goal of providing fair and consistent impairment awards to injured Federal workers.

Purpose: To provide notice that although the Sixth Edition of the AMA Guides have recently been updated, the FECA Program will be maintaining the use of the second printing of the Sixth Edition (2009) rather than adopting the latest updated version.

Reference: 5 U.S.C. 8107 and 20 C.F.R. 10.404. This Bulletin supplements the information contained in the FECA Procedure Manual 3-0700 and 2-0808, as well as FECA Bulletin No. 09-03 and FECA Bulletin No. 17-06.

Action: No change or action is necessary at this time, and the FECA Program will continue to use the second printing of the Sixth Edition (2009) to evaluate permanent impairment.

Any impairment report in which impairment is assessed using a more recent version of the Sixth Edition should be returned to the rating physician with instructions to evaluate impairment under the second printing of the Sixth Edition (2009).

Applicability: Claims Examiners, Quality Assurance and Mentoring Examiners, Supervisory Claims Examiners, Hearing Representatives, District Medical Advisors, and Claims Assistants.

Disposition: This Bulletin is to be retained until incorporated unto the FECA Procedure Manual.


1 https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/ama-guides/ama-guides-sixth-2021-current-medicine-permanent-impairment-ratings

 

ANTONIO RIOS
Director for
Division of Federal Employees’, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation

Distribution: All Appropriate FECA Program Staff

Back to Top of FECA Bulletin No. 21-11


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FECA BULLETIN NO. 20-01

Issue Date: January 27, 2020


Expiration Date: February 28, 2021


Subject: Compensation Pay - Consumer Price Index (CPI) Cost-of-Living Adjustments.

Purpose: To furnish information on the CPI adjustment process for March 1, 2020.

The cost-of-living adjustments granted to a compensation recipient under the FECA are based on the "Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers" (CPI-W) figures published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The annual cost of living increase is calculated by comparing the base month from the prior year to the base month of the current year, with the percentage of increase adjusted to the nearest one-tenth of 1 percent. 5 U.S.C. §8146(a) establishes the base month for the FECA CPI as December.

December 2018 had a CPI-W level of 244.786 and the December 2018 level was reported by BLS as 250.452. This means that the new CPI increase, adjusted to the nearest one-tenth of one percent, is 2.3 percent. The increase is effective March 1, 2020, and is applicable where disability or death occurred before March 1, 2019. In addition, the new base month for calculating the future CPI is December 2019.

The maximum compensation rates1 , which must not be exceeded, are as follows:

 

$8,886.25 per month
$8,202.68 each four weeks
$2,050.67 per week
$410.13 per day (for a 5 day week)

Applicability: Appropriate National Office and District Office personnel.

Reference: FECA Consumer Price Index (CPI) Amendment, dated January 6, 1981; Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index Publication for December 2019 (USDL-20-0044)

Action: National Office Production updated the iFECS CPI tables and recalculated all payment records when the iFECS system was not in use by District Office personnel. The March 28, 2020 will be the first check paid at the 2020 rate.

Please note that if there are any cases with fixed gross overrides, those cases must be reviewed to determine if CPI adjustment is necessary. If so, a manual calculation will be required. If the gross override payment is in fact eligible for annual CPI increases, the payment plate should be adjusted in the iFECS system to pay as a "Gross Override with CPI."

  1. CPI Minimum and Maximum Adjustments Listings. Form CA-841, Cost-of-Living Adjustments; Form CA-842, Minimum Compensation Rates; and Form CA-843, Maximum Compensation Rates, should be updated to indicate the increase for 2019. Attached to this directive is a complete list of all the CPI increases and effective dates since October 1, 1966 through March 1, 2020, for reference.
  2. Verification of Compensation. If claimants write or call for verification of the amount of compensation paid (possibly for mortgage verification; insurance verification; loan application; etc.), please continue to provide this data in letter form from the district office. Many times a Benefit Statement may not reach the addressee and regeneration of the form is not possible. A letter indicating the amount of compensation paid every four weeks will be an adequate substitute for this purpose.

Disposition: This Bulletin is to be retained in Part 5, Benefit Payments, Federal (FECA) Procedure Manual, until further notice or the indicated expiration date.

 

ANTONIO RIOS
Director for
Federal Employees' Compensation

Attachment: Cost of Living Adjustments

Distribution: All DFEC Staff


1 Per for Executive Heads of Departments and Agencies dated December 26, 2019.

 

COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENTS
Under 5 USC §8146(a)

EFFECTIVE DATE

RATE

EFFECTIVE DATE

RATE

10/01/66

12.5%

03/01/90

4.50%

01/01/68

3.7%

03/01/91

6.1%

12/01/68

4.0%

03/01/92

2.8%

09/01/69

4.4%

03/01/93

2.5%

 

 

03/01/94

2.5%

06/01/70

4.4%

03/01/95

2.7%

03/01/71

4.0%

03/01/96

2.5%

05/01/72

3.9%

03/01/97

3.3%

06/01/73

4.8%

03/01/98

1.5%

01/01/74

5.2%

03/01/99

1.6%

07/01/74

5.3%

 

 

11/01/74

6.3%

03/01/00

2.8%

06/01/75

4.1%

03/01/01

3.3%

01/01/76

4.4%

03/01/02

1.3%

11/01/76

4.0%

03/01/03

2.4%

07/01/77

4.9%

03/01/04

1.6%

05/01/78

5.3%

03/01/05

3.4%

11/01/78

4.9%

03/01/06

3.5%

05/01/79

5.5%

03/01/07

2.4%

10/01/79

5.6%

03/01/08

4.3%

 

 

03/01/09

0.0%

04/01/80

7.2%

 

 

09/01/80

4.0%

03/01/10

3.4%

03/01/81

3.6%

03/01/11

1.7%

03/01/82

8.7%

03/01/12

3.2%

03/01/83

3.9%

03/01/13

1.7%

03/01/84

3.3%

03/01/14

1.5%

03/01/85

3.5%

03/01/15

0.3%

03/01/86

N/A

03/01/16

0.4%

03/01/87

0.7%

03/01/17

2.0%

03/01/88

4.5%

03/01/18

2.2%

03/01/89

4.4%

03/01/19

1.8%

   

03/01/20

2.3%

Prior to September 7, 1974, the new compensation after adding the CPI is rounded to the nearest $1.00 on a monthly basis or the nearest multiple of $.23 on a weekly basis ($.23, $.46, $.69, or $.92). After September 7, 1974, the new compensation after adding the CPI is rounded to the nearest $1.00 on a monthly basis or the nearest $.25 on a weekly basis ($.25, $.50, $.75, or $1.00).

New compensation rates
Prior to 11/1/74 Eff. 11/1/74

Prior to 11/1/74 .08-.34 = .23

Eff. 11/1/74 .13-.37 = .25

.35-.57 = .46

.38-.62 = .50

.58-.80 = .69

.63-.87 = .75

.81-.07 = .92

.88-.12 = 1.00

ATTACHMENT TO FECA BULLETIN NO. 20 - 01

Back to Top of FECA Bulletin No. 20-01


 

Back to BCT Table of Contents


FECA BULLETIN NO. 20-02

Issue Date: January 27, 2020


Expiration Date: January 1, 2021


Subject: Compensation Pay: Compensation Rate Changes for 2020.

Background: On December 26, 2019, the President signed an Executive Order increasing General Schedule basic pay rates for 2020.

Reference: Memorandum for Executive Heads of Departments and Agencies dated December 26, 2019; and the attachment for the 2020 General Schedule.

Purpose: To inform the appropriate personnel of the minimum/maximum rates of compensation for affected cases on the periodic disability and death payrolls.

The maximum compensation rate payable is based on the scheduled salary of a GS-15, Step 10 of $142,180 per annum. The basis for the minimum compensation rate of $21,974 is the salary of a GS-2, Step 1. The actual rates are outlined below.

Effective January 5, 2020

Type

Minimum

Maximum

Weekly

$316.93

$2,050.67

Daily (5-day week)

$63.39

$410.13

 

Effective January 5, 2020

Type

Minimum

Maximum

28-Day Cycle

$1,267.72

$8,202.68

 

Effective January 5, 2020

Type

Minimum

Maximum

Monthly

$1,831.17

$8,886.25

Action: The Integrated Federal Employees' Compensation System (iFECS) will be updated with the rate changes for the periodic disability and death payrolls.

Applicability: Appropriate National and District Office personnel

Disposition: This bulletin is to be retained in Part 5, Benefit Payments, Federal (FECA) Procedure Manual, until the indicated expiration date.

 

Antonio Rios
Director for
Federal Employees' Compensation

Distribution: All DFEC Staff

Back to Top of FECA Bulletin No. 20-02


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FECA BULLETIN NO. 20-03

Issue Date: February 19, 2020


Expiration Date: January 1, 2021


Subject: Compensation Pay: Compensation Rate Changes for 2020. This Bulletin supersedes FECA Bulletin 20-02.

Background: On December 26, 2019, the President signed an Executive Order increasing General Schedule basic pay rates for 2020.

Reference: Memorandum for Executive Heads of Departments and Agencies dated December 26, 2019; and the attachment for the 2020 General Schedule.

Purpose: To inform the appropriate personnel of the minimum/maximum rates of compensation for affected cases on the periodic disability and death payrolls.

The maximum compensation rate payable is based on the scheduled salary of a GS-15, Step 10 of $142,180 per annum. The basis for the minimum compensation rate of $21,974 is the salary of a GS-2, Step 1. The actual rates are outlined below.

Effective January 5, 2020

Type

Minimum

Maximum

Weekly

$316.92

$2,050.68

Daily (5-day week)

$63.38

$410.14

 

Effective January 5, 2020

Type

Minimum

Maximum

28-Day Cycle

$1,267.68

$8,202.72

 

Effective January 5, 2020

Type

Minimum

Maximum

Monthly

$1,831.09

$8,886.28

Action: The Integrated Federal Employees' Compensation System (iFECS) will be updated with the rate changes for the periodic disability and death payrolls.

Applicability: Appropriate National and District Office personnel

Disposition: This bulletin is to be retained in Part 5, Benefit Payments, Federal (FECA) Procedure Manual, until the indicated expiration date.

 

Antonio Rios
Director for
Federal Employees' Compensation

Distribution: All DFEC Staff

Back to Top of FECA Bulletin No. 20-03


Back to FECA Bulletins Table of Contents

 

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FECA BULLETIN NO. 20-04

Issue Date: February 19, 2020


Expiration Date: February 28, 2021


Subject: Compensation Pay - Consumer Price Index (CPI) Cost-of-Living Adjustments. This Bulletin supersedes FECA Bulletin 20-01.

Purpose: To furnish information on the CPI adjustment process for March 1, 2020.

The cost-of-living adjustments granted to a compensation recipient under the FECA are based on the "Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers" (CPI-W) figures published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The annual cost of living increase is calculated by comparing the base month from the prior year to the base month of the current year, with the percentage of increase adjusted to the nearest one-tenth of 1 percent. 5 U.S.C. §8146(a) establishes the base month for the FECA CPI as December.

December 2018 had a CPI-W level of 244.786 and the December 2019 level was reported by BLS as 250.452. This means that the new CPI increase, adjusted to the nearest one-tenth of one percent, is 2.3 percent. The increase is effective March 1, 2020, and is applicable where disability or death occurred before March 1, 2019. In addition, the new base month for calculating the future CPI is December 2019.

The maximum compensation rates1 , which must not be exceeded, are as follows:

 

$8,886.28 per month
$8,202.72 each four weeks
$2,050.68 per week
$410.14 per day (for a 5 day week)

Applicability: Appropriate National Office and District Office personnel.

Reference: FECA Consumer Price Index (CPI) Amendment, dated January 6, 1981; Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index Publication for December 2019 (USDL-20-0044)

Action: National Office Production updated the iFECS CPI tables and recalculated all payment records when the iFECS system was not in use by District Office personnel. The March 28, 2020 will be the first check paid at the 2020 rate.

Please note that if there are any cases with fixed gross overrides, those cases must be reviewed to determine if CPI adjustment is necessary. If so, a manual calculation will be required. If the gross override payment is in fact eligible for annual CPI increases, the payment plate should be adjusted in the iFECS system to pay as a "Gross Override with CPI."

  1. CPI Minimum and Maximum Adjustments Listings. Form CA-841, Cost-of-Living Adjustments; Form CA-842, Minimum Compensation Rates; and Form CA-843, Maximum Compensation Rates, should be updated to indicate the increase for 2019. Attached to this directive is a complete list of all the CPI increases and effective dates since October 1, 1966 through March 1, 2020, for reference.
  2. Verification of Compensation. If claimants write or call for verification of the amount of compensation paid (possibly for mortgage verification; insurance verification; loan application; etc.), please continue to provide this data in letter form from the district office. Many times a Benefit Statement may not reach the addressee and regeneration of the form is not possible. A letter indicating the amount of compensation paid every four weeks will be an adequate substitute for this purpose.

Disposition: This Bulletin is to be retained in Part 5, Benefit Payments, Federal (FECA) Procedure Manual, until further notice or the indicated expiration date.

 

ANTONIO RIOS
Director for
Federal Employees' Compensation

Attachment: Cost of Living Adjustments

Distribution: All DFEC Staff


1 Per for Executive Heads of Departments and Agencies dated December 26, 2019.

 

COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENTS
Under 5 USC §8146(a)

EFFECTIVE DATE

RATE

EFFECTIVE DATE

RATE

10/01/66

12.5%

03/01/90

4.50%

01/01/68

3.7%

03/01/91

6.1%

12/01/68

4.0%

03/01/92

2.8%

09/01/69

4.4%

03/01/93

2.5%

 

 

03/01/94

2.5%

06/01/70

4.4%

03/01/95

2.7%

03/01/71

4.0%

03/01/96

2.5%

05/01/72

3.9%

03/01/97

3.3%

06/01/73

4.8%

03/01/98

1.5%

01/01/74

5.2%

03/01/99

1.6%

07/01/74

5.3%

 

 

11/01/74

6.3%

03/01/00

2.8%

06/01/75

4.1%

03/01/01

3.3%

01/01/76

4.4%

03/01/02

1.3%

11/01/76

4.0%

03/01/03

2.4%

07/01/77

4.9%

03/01/04

1.6%

05/01/78

5.3%

03/01/05

3.4%

11/01/78

4.9%

03/01/06

3.5%

05/01/79

5.5%

03/01/07

2.4%

10/01/79

5.6%

03/01/08

4.3%

 

 

03/01/09

0.0%

04/01/80

7.2%

 

 

09/01/80

4.0%

03/01/10

3.4%

03/01/81

3.6%

03/01/11

1.7%

03/01/82

8.7%

03/01/12

3.2%

03/01/83

3.9%

03/01/13

1.7%

03/01/84

3.3%

03/01/14

1.5%

03/01/85

3.5%

03/01/15

0.3%

03/01/86

N/A

03/01/16

0.4%

03/01/87

0.7%

03/01/17

2.0%

03/01/88

4.5%

03/01/18

2.2%

03/01/89

4.4%

03/01/19

1.8%

   

03/01/20

2.3%

Prior to September 7, 1974, the new compensation after adding the CPI is rounded to the nearest $1.00 on a monthly basis or the nearest multiple of $.23 on a weekly basis ($.23, $.46, $.69, or $.92). After September 7, 1974, the new compensation after adding the CPI is rounded to the nearest $1.00 on a monthly basis or the nearest $.25 on a weekly basis ($.25, $.50, $.75, or $1.00).

New compensation rates
Prior to 11/1/74 Eff. 11/1/74

Prior to 11/1/74 .08-.34 = .23

Eff. 11/1/74 .13-.37 = .25

.35-.57 = .46

.38-.62 = .50

.58-.80 = .69

.63-.87 = .75

.81-.07 = .92

.88-.12 = 1.00

ATTACHMENT TO FECA BULLETIN NO. 20 - 04

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FECA BULLETIN NO. 20-05

Issue Date: March 31, 2020


Subject: Federal Employees Contracting COVID-19 in Performance oF Duty

Background: The Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) covers injury in the performance of duty; injury includes a disease proximately caused by federal employment. The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) Division of Federal Employees' Compensation (DFEC) provides to an employee injured while in the performance of duty, the services, appliances, and supplies prescribed or recommended by a qualified physician, which OWCP considers "likely to cure, give relief, reduce the degree or the period of disability, or aid in lessening the amount of the monthly compensation." See 5 U.S.C. 8103. FECA pays compensation for disability or death of an employee resulting from injury in the performance of duty.

While all federal employees who contract COVID-19 related to their federal employment are entitled to FECA coverage, special case handling considerations apply to those employees engaged in high-risk employment. In the case of COVID-19, federal employees who are required to have in-person and close proximity interactions with the public on a frequent basis – such as members of law enforcement, first responders, and front-line medical and public health personnel – will be considered to be in high-risk employment triggering the application of Chapter 2-0805-6 of the FECA Procedure Manual. In such cases, there is an implicit recognition of a higher likelihood of infection related to such federal employment. OWCP DFEC recognizes that certain kinds of employment routinely present situations that may lead to infection by contact with sneezes, droplet infection, bodily secretions, and surfaces on which the COVID-19 virus may reside. Conditions such as COVID-19 (like the diseases covered in Chapter 2-0805-6) more commonly represent a work hazard in health care facilities, correctional institutions, and drug treatment centers, among others. The employment-related incidence of COVID-19 appears more likely to occur among members of law enforcement, first responders, and front-line medical and public health personnel, and among those whose employment causes them to come into direct and frequent in-person and close proximity contact with the public.

DOL has created new procedures to specifically address COVID-19 claims. Employees filing a claim for workers' compensation coverage as a result of COVID-19 should file Form CA-1, Federal Employee's Notice of Traumatic Injury and Claim for Continuation of Pay/Compensation. The new procedures will also call the adjudicator's attention to the type of employment held by the employee, rather than burdening the employee with identifying the exact day or time they contracted the novel coronavirus.

Purpose: To provide targeted instructions to claims staff on the handling of COVID-19 FECA claims by federal employees.

Action:

  1. A special indicator has been assigned to all COVID-19 claims. The indicator is available for input in the Employees' Compensation and Management Portal (ECOMP) or can be added by case-create clerks where the form is received on paper or by fax. However, where the indicator is not included (such as in cases where the agency uses its own electronic data interchange (EDI) system or where the agency did not elect to use the indicator available in ECOMP), claims examiners should alert their District Director that the COVID-19 indicator must be added.
  2. An OWCP DFEC COVID-19 Task Force has been created to help ensure cases are handled expeditiously in a fair and consistent manner. The Task Force will review all COVID-19 claims development and adjudications.
  3. EXPOSURE FROM HIGH-RISK EMPLOYMENT: If a COVID-19 claim is filed by a person in high-risk employment (by job category or otherwise confirmed by the employer1), OWCP DFEC will accept that the exposure to COVID-19 was proximately caused by the nature of the employment. If the employer supports the claim and that the exposure occurred, and the CA-1 is filed within 30 days, the employee is eligible to receive Continuation of Pay for up to 45 days.
  4. EXPOSURE FROM OTHER EMPLOYMENT: If a COVID-19 claim is filed by a person whose position is not considered high-risk, OWCP DFEC will require the claimant to provide a factual statement and any available evidence concerning exposure. The employing agency will also be expected to provide OWCP DFEC with any information they have regarding the alleged exposure, and to indicate whether they are supporting or controverting the claim. If the employer supports the claim, including that the exposure occurred, and the CA-1 is filed within 30 days, the employee is eligible to receive Continuation of Pay for up to 45 days.
  5. TESTING: The results of any COVID-19 testing should be submitted to OWCP if available. If the employee has encountered difficulty in obtaining such testing, OWCP will authorize such testing if the employee is working in high-risk employment or otherwise has a confirmed COVID-19 employment exposure.
  6. MEDICAL: Medical evidence establishing a diagnosis of COVID-19 is needed. You will need to provide medical evidence establishing that the diagnosed COVID-19 was aggravated, accelerated, precipitated, or directly caused by your work-related activities. For health and safety reasons, claimants may wish to use telehealth to obtain medical evidence from a qualified physician – OWCP encourages this flexibility.
  7. CAUSAL RELATIONSHIP: Establishing causal relationship generally requires a qualified physician's opinion, based on a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that the diagnosed condition is causally related to employment conditions. This opinion must be based on a complete factual and medical background. In the case of high-risk employment, the factual and medical background would include the physician's recognition that the employee is engaged in high-risk employment that included exposure to COVID-19 while in federal employment. See D.M. (T.M.) Docket No. 19-0358 (issued March 19, 2020) (ECAB found the employee's death due to meningococcemia was causally related to her high-risk employment as a nurse at the employing establishment, as her employment routinely presented situations which could lead to infection by contact with human blood, bodily secretions, and other substances.)
  8. USE OF THE DISTRICT MEDICAL ADVISOR (DMA): In the case of high-risk employment where testing establishes a diagnosis of COVID-19 but no physician's signature is on file following appropriate development, the CE may use the DMA to establish the diagnosis and provide the above-referenced recognition that the employee is engaged in high-risk employment that included exposure to COVID-19 while in federal employment.
  9. DISABILITY: FECA pays compensation for partial or total disability of an employee resulting from injury in the performance of duty. Just as with other conditions/claims, disability is claimed by the filing of a CA-7, Claim for Compensation, with the employing agency and requires an incapacity because of an employment-related injury to earn wages.

1 A real-time list of occupational codes and/or job series, including the geographic locations where the high-risk determination has been flagged by the agency, will be available to OWCP staff to assist OWCP's determination that the position falls within that category.

 

Applicability: Appropriate National and District Office personnel.

Disposition: This bulletin is to be retained until incorporated into the Procedure Manual.

ANTONIO RIOS
Director for
Federal Employees' Compensation
Distribution: All DFEC Staff

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FECA BULLETIN NO. 20-06

Issue Date: June 5, 2020


Subject: Change in collection procedures for debt owed to the Division of Federal Employees' Compensation (DFEC).

Background: 20 CFR §10.441(b) provides that when an overpayment has been made to an individual who is not entitled to further payments, the individual shall refund to the Office of Workers' Compensation (OWCP) the amount of the overpayment as soon as the error is discovered or his or her attention is called to the same.

The overpayment is subject to the provisions of the Federal Claims Collection Act of 1966 (as amended), 31 U.S.C. §§ 3701-3720A, and may be reported to the Internal Revenue Service as income. If the individual fails to make such refund and the overpayment cannot be recovered from continuing compensation, the OWCP may recover the debt through any available means, including offset of salary, annuity benefits, or other Federal payments, including tax refunds as authorized by the Tax Refund Offset Program, or referral of the debt to a collection agency or to the Department of Justice.

Previously, if DFEC could not recover an overpayment from continuing compensation or through similar, alternative means, the debtor was required to submit a paper check by mail.

If a payment was not received in response to the Final Overpayment Determination, DFEC staff issued demand letters and referred the debt to the Treasury for collection, when appropriate.

Applicability: Appropriate National Office and District Office personnel.

Reference: 5 U.S. C. § 8129, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3701-3720A, 20 C.F.R. §10.441, Chapter 6-0100, Introduction and Chapter 6-0500, Debt Liquidation, Part 6, Debt Management, Federal (FECA) Procedure Manual.

Action:

  1. Once a Final Overpayment Determination has been issued to a debtor, and recovery cannot be made from continuing compensation payments, DFEC staff will refer the debt and a copy of the decision to National Office for submission to Treasury's Centralized Receivable Service (CRS). CRS will collect payments on behalf of the program and pursue collection actions including referrals for Cross Servicing.
  2. Payments received through CRS will be posted to the account via the debt management application in the integrated Federal Employees' Compensation System (iFECS).

Disposition: This bulletin should be retained until incorporated into Chapter 6-0500, Debt Liquidation, of the FECA Procedure Manual.

 

ANTONIO RIOS
Director for
Federal Employees' Compensation

Distribution: All DFEC Staff

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