Division of Federal Employees' Compensation (DFEC)
INFORMATION FOR DEPLOYED EMPLOYEES AND THEIR AGENCIES CONCERNING
THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATION ACT
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 deployed employees in areas where armed conflict may take place. See 20 C.F.R Part 10, FECA Procedure Manual and guidance at http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/index.htm. 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. A FECA death gratuity of up to $100,000 may also be payable for a covered death due to service with an Armed Force in a contingency operation; deploying employees may wish to complete the CA-40 Designation of Recipient of Death Gratuity Payment available at http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/regs/compliance/CA-40.pdf.
When is a deployed employee covered under FECA? While Federal employees located abroad are not covered around the clock under all situations, deployed employees 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 it 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 arising in war zones are handled by a special unit of claims examiners in the Division of Federal Employees' Compensation who have been trained to handle these cases. An employee bears responsibility to submit medical evidence to support a FECA claim for benefits to be granted.
- 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 deployment and the nature/length of your disability.
- Because of the exigent circumstances attendant to deployment, OWCP realizes that medical evidence can be challenging to obtain. OWCP will contact you in writing to explain what you need and can grant additional time for you to obtain medical evidence. OWCP can answer questions you may have; you may request your employing agency to assist you.
- 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.
While every injured employee has a right under FECA to their initial choice of physician, employees injured in a war zone may under certain circumstances request treatment at a military facility with expertise in injuries that more commonly occur in deployment. You or your agency can obtain information from the Department of Defense at http://www.cpms.osd.mil/expeditionary/cew-medical.aspx.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.