Division of Federal Employees' Compensation (DFEC)

The Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA), 5 U.S.C. 8101 et seq., administered by the Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, provides comprehensive workers' compensation coverage for federal employees, including those assigned to work locations outside of the United States. See 20 C.F.R Part 10, FECA Procedure Manual and guidance on the Division of Federal Employees' Compensation (DFEC) home page. A wide variety of benefits are available under FECA including medical and wage loss benefits, schedule awards for permanent impairment due to loss of hearing, vision or certain organs, vocational rehabilitation/retraining for injured employees; survivor benefits are available if an employee is killed in performance of duty or if an employee later dies from a covered injury.

When is an employee on an overseas assignment covered under FECA? While Federal employees located abroad are not covered around the clock under all situations, employees assigned overseas who are in travel status or on a special mission are covered under FECA for all activities reasonably incidental to their employment, such as eating, sleeping and during travel. Other principles adopted by Federal workers' compensation law, such as the zone of special danger rule, the bunkhouse rule, the proximity rule, the positional risk doctrine, or the rescuers doctrine all serve to extend FECA coverage to employees considerably beyond performing the ordinary tasks of employment. Furthermore, specific provisions of the FECA provide coverage for any injury or death outside of the continental United States or Alaska, other than an employee whose residence was at or near his or her place of employment, as a result of a "war risk hazard," which encompasses a wide variety of hostile actions, including terrorist acts targeting the United State or its allies.

What evidence is needed to obtain FECA benefits? OWCP works extensively with employing agencies to provide guidance concerning the required medical and factual evidence needed to adjudicate claims. Claims for injury or illness sustained outside of the United States are initially handled by a special unit of claims examiners in the Cleveland office of the Division of Federal Employees' Compensation (DFEC) who have been trained to handle these cases. An employee bears responsibility to submit medical evidence to support a FECA claim for benefits.

  • While an ankle sprain from a simple slip and fall may require no more than a medical note or CA-20 form to support a day's absence, a claim for extended disability may require detailed medical evidence explaining how the claimed injury relates to your employment and the nature/length of your disability.
  • If you contract an infectious disease while assigned to a position overseas, a claim for FECA benefits may require medical evidence of the endemic nature of the disease and the unique or heightened risk of contracting such disease at your post of assignment. Such evidence will be a relevant factor in establishing the relationship between your overseas employment and a claim related to this infectious disease.
  • Because of the exigent circumstances attendant to employment overseas, OWCP realizes that medical evidence can be challenging to obtain. OWCP will contact you in writing to explain what you need and may grant additional time for you to obtain medical evidence. If the employee needs additional assistance, he/she may request assistance from the employing agency, particularly if there are unusual factual or medical circumstances surrounding the claim.
  • If you face extended disability and require additional assistance with medical issues or return to work in a limited capacity, an OWCP field nurse may be assigned to assist you.

How does an employee receive pre-authorization for medical treatment? If you have an existing FECA claim and need to request pre-authorization for medical treatment outside of the United States, you may electronically submit your request to your case file by using the Web-Enabled Document Submission (WEEDS) portion of OWCP's Employees' Compensation Operations and Management Portal (ECOMP). Instructions for uploading information to a case file can be found in the help section of the ECOMP website. Alternatively, if you don’t have access to submit electronically, please contact OWCP at (202) 513-6860 for assistance with submitting your request.

If you have specific questions about your FECA claim, you may contact your agency or your assigned OWCP claims examiner. For general questions about FECA, contact OWCP by email at owcp-public@dol.gov.