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

 

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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. 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

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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

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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

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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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