Improvements Still Needed in Administering the Department of Labor's Compensation Benefits for Injured Federal Employees

HRD-78-119: Published: Sep 28, 1978. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 1978.

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The Federal Employees' Compensation Act, as amended, provides for paying compensation benefits for the disability or death of Federal civilian employees injured or killed while performing their duties. These benefits include compensation for loss of wages, dollar awards for bodily impairment, medical care for an injury or disease, rehabilitation services, and compensation for survivors.

Although the number of civilian employees in the Government has remained fairly constant, from fiscal year 1970 through fiscal year 1977, injuries reported by employees increased by 72.1 percent; claims increased by 70.3 percent; persons drawing compensation for extended periods increased by 90 percent; and benefits paid increased by 315.1 percent. In about 41 percent of the 233 cases reviewed, the Office of Worker Compensation Programs (OWCP) awarded benefits without adequately establishing a causal relationship between the employee's disability or death and his or her employment. Many benefits were awarded without adequate supporting medical evidence, supporting medical rationale, or resolution of conflicting medical evidence. Other factors contributing to improper determinations of benefits involved a lack of onsite investigations and personal contact and a lack of agency appeal rights. District offices visited did not systematically review the condition and status of injured employees who received benefits for extended periods.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: The Secretary of Labor should instruct all officials and employees of OWCP that: they are responsible for making claims determinations that are equitable to the employee, the Federal Government, and the taxpayers; and their responsibilities require that benefits be denied in all cases in which adequate medical and other evidence are not provided establishing that the employee's injury was work related. The OWCP should: make onsite investigations of all claims in which causal relationship is not conclusively shown, place as much emphasis on decisions to approve as those to deny benefits, and install a management information system. The Director of the Office of Management and Budget should consider placing specific monitoring and vocational rehabilitation responsibilities in the employing agencies. Congress should amend the Act to place in the employing agencies the authority to appeal any finding of causal relation which is not consistent with or supported by available evidence.


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