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What are possible steps to appeal an OWCP final determination?

Claim denied. A worker does not want to see those words after being hurt on the job. Workers' compensation programs in all states are supposed to be there on a no-fault basis – founded on the principle that injuries happen. When they do, a worker should be given the care necessary to achieve the fullest possible recovery.

State programs don't cover the federal government. Federal workers have separate processes to follow to file claims and receive compensation from the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs. The one thing that is common to all such programs, however, is denials of legitimate claims. The frustration of having that happen can then be compounded if you choose to exercise your right to appeal.

That an appeals process exists is a good thing, of course, but understanding what options are open to you and meeting all the requirements that may be called for can be complicated. Even information provided online by the Department of Labor, which you would think would be crafted with the intent of making life easier, doesn't necessarily help.

If you are denied benefits, the OWCP is supposed to provide you with an explanation of your appeal rights. These might include:

  • Seeking an oral hearing with an OWCP representative
  • Asking to have an OWCP representative review of the written record of determination
  • Requesting a reconsideration of the decision

Exercising any of those options requires making the request in writing within a certain period of time. But it's important to note that the clock starts ticking not on the day you receive the letter of denial, but when that letter was postmarked. The office you send your appeal letter to can also vary depending on the type of appeal you seek.

If all else fails, it may be possible to appeal to the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board – an entity entirely separate from the OWCP.

You can see that many steps are required to seek OWCP benefits. Mistakes of any kind at any point along the way can lead to a denial and further delay. Working with a skilled attorney can prevent errors from occurring or lead to effective corrections if required.

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