Skip to main content

Federal Workers' Compensation: Issues Associated With Changing Benefits for Older Beneficiaries

GAO-11-655T Published: May 12, 2011. Publicly Released: May 12, 2011.
Jump To:
Skip to Highlights


This testimony discusses issues related to possible changes to the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) program, a topic that we have reported on in the past. At the end of chargeback year 2010, the FECA program, administered by the Department of Labor (Labor) paid more than $1.88 billion in wage-loss compensation, impairment, and death benefits, and another $898.1 million for medical and rehabilitation services and supplies. Currently, FECA benefits are paid to federal employees who are unable to work because of injuries sustained while performing their federal duties, including those who are at or older than retirement age. Concerns have been raised that federal employees on FECA receive benefits that could be more generous than under the traditional federal retirement system and that the program may have unintended incentives for beneficiaries to remain on the FECA program beyond the traditional retirement age. Over the past 30 years, there have been various proposals to change the FECA program to address this concern. Recent policy proposals to change the way FECA is administered for older beneficiaries share characteristics with past proposals we have discussed in prior work. In August 1996, we reported on the issues associated with changing benefits for older beneficiaries. Because FECA's benefit structure has not been significantly amended in more than 35 years, the policy questions raised in our 1996 report are still relevant and important today. This statement will focus on (1) previous proposals for changing FECA benefits for older beneficiaries and (2) questions and associated issues that merit consideration in crafting legislation to change benefits for older beneficiaries. This statement is drawn primarily from our 1996 report in which we solicited views from selected federal agencies and employee groups to identify questions and associated issues with crafting benefit changes. In that report, we also reviewed relevant laws and analyzed previous studies and legislative proposals that would have changed benefits for older FECA beneficiaries..

Full Report

GAO Contacts

Office of Public Affairs


BeneficiariesDisability benefitsEmployees with disabilitiesFederal employee disability programsFederal employee retirement programsFederal employeesPensionsProposed legislationRetirement ageRetirement benefitsSystems conversionsWorkers compensationElderly personsCivil service retirement systemPeople with disabilities