OWCP or Bust

GUEST BLOG BY DK

Note: This is one carrier's experience navigating the maze of OWCP. This is not intended to be "official" advice.

What is OWCP? The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs administers four major disability compensation programs which provide wage replacement benefits, medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation and other benefits to certain workers or their dependents who experience work-related injury or occupational disease. More

Remember, no one will look out for you except you. If you get hurt on the job and decide not to file or you are convinced not to file, then you can only blame yourself if your injury becomes more than just minor. Complications can and do happen.

I am a rural carrier. I have been working for the PO for 31 years with 5 more left until retirement. I am not a specialist and my advice is not law. And I am no writer, either. LOL This is just a few tips from my own experiences.

Everyone should know how to report an injury and what happens after that. So my best advice is to read all about it even before you ever have an injury, because YES, it can happen to you. Start with the CA 11 http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/regs/compliance/ca-11.htm and the OWCP website.
This question and answer page will help. http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/regs/compliance/DFECFolio/q-and-a.pdf save it in iBooks.

My second best advice is to document everything. Date, time, who you talked to and what the conversation was about. It is more convincing when you can quote. Believe me when I say you will be referring back to your notes when statements start changing. And get copies of everything, start a file.

Know what COP (continuous of pay) is and if you want it. Your option to take it will be on your CA1, the very first paper you will sign. If it is an open and shut case of whether it is work related, I recommend taking the COP. If not open and shut case, you may have to pay back if your case is denied. It lasts for up to 45 days if needed. After that, it will be up to OWCP to pay. CA7 My PM had already checked off that I didn't want it, so I had to make her fill out another one saying I did want it. Two other carriers in my office signed theirs without PM giving them an option.

Finding a doctor familiar with and willing to work with Federal workman's comp is difficult but not impossible. Make sure you ask if they do.

Once you are accepted by Owcp and given a number, you will have a case worker. They should answer all your questions, when they call you back. Be diligent. You will also have a case worker with injury comp. This part is confusing because injury comp is with the post office in your district. Owcp is a separate entity, like an insurance company.

So you will get an injury comp (PO) case worker first. Remember, these are people who deal with many cases. They are overworked. They are human. Some are better than others, some are nicer than others. If you start out by being accusing then they will start out by being defensive. Be nice no matter what obstacles you are dealing with. You need them.

Learn about all the forms, CA1, CA 2, CA 16, CA 17 and most of all CA 7 (compensation). You are also allowed for mileage to Doctor appointment , physical therapy, drug stores, etc.
The CA 16 must be brought to initial appointment. This form is what you need for the Doctor to get paid. If Doctor sends you to get X-rays, Physical Therapy or anything he/she deems necessary for your treatment, the CA 16 guarantees their payment. This is your authorization.

I personally had a hard time getting a specialist to take my case. When I found one, Injury Compensation said they would not cover it. What they didn't tell me was that my 60 days were up so OWCP would cover it. I figured it out with the help of other injured workers. PO pays for medical the first 60 days then OWCP takes over, I think. Well that was how it was handled in my case.
 
Be nice. You MAY get a nurse contracted by Owcp (after the 60 days). They are supposed to be there for your best interest. I, personally, think they are there to get you off Owcp payroll, but that is just my opinion. My nurse was okay. They are good for getting paperwork done. You do NOT have to let them in the exam room with you.

CA 17 is your work limitations. Make sure the dr knows Exactly what you do all day. Bring a form CA 17 every time you go to the Doctor. I did not leave the office until it was filled out. Be nice.

Postmaster is to give you a work offer within your limits, in writing. Do not work until you have one. Do not do anything outside of your restrictions or you can lose your whole case! Do not do any work outside your craft, either. Your co workers are watching you. You will get support and sympathy on certain websites, but do not expect it on the workroom floor.
 
You have now become the red-headed stepchild no matter how long you have worked for them. ( at least in my case and many others I have spoken to) Please do not trust management to do the right thing, thinking they have your best interest at heart. Be informed. Don't leave anything to chance.

Also, do not let them force you to return to work too early. That can result in more damage to yourself. They want you to give up, drop your case and save them money. Don't give up. You deserve medical attention for on the job injuries.

I know I have not covered everything. Hopefully, You will take my advice and read lots of information. It is out there. You are not alone. Don't be afraid to ask questions. It is not an easy road but it is necessary. I'm sure you have heard horror stories, but don't be afraid. Protect yourself and Good Luck. Knowledge is power.

DK

DK is a Rural Carrier of 31 years

 

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Question, if I had an injury to my knee and I went to doc myself and was told torn meniscus, no big deal, off work 1 week, went bk to work, I year later I went to different doc , he scoped it, on my time, telling me I need new knee, can I claim wc for this??

Plus- if you go to urgent care and see a PA and not an MD or DO, DOL will not accept that report.

Do you know why when a rural carrier fills out a CA7a to get paid for time off due to your injury it is considered LWOP? I have been told that is just the way it is. But rurals are the only craft this happens to.

Thank you