No one in Texas would argue that seeking and obtaining workers’ compensation benefits is easy. If you’re in the private sector, the process can be fraught with denials and other delays. That may serve the insurance companies that are supposed to service these programs. Delays keep money in company coffers longer.
If you’re a federal employee seeking help after an injury, you may face your own array of claims denials, but you also face the monolith that is the government bureaucracy. Paperwork abounds and an oversight in reporting details can trigger a rejection from administrators. Undertaking the appeals process for adverse decisions can be disheartening. Sometimes it can be a challenge just to figure out if you are eligible for benefits or not.
It’s within that environment that the Congressional Research Service recently weighed in on the subjects of eligibility and what benefits are provided under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). Here’s a brief outline of what this nonpartisan agency of the Library of Congress had to say.
FECA is a program intended to cover the needs of any injured or disabled civilian federal government workers. It doesn’t matter if you are full-time or part-time. The law says you are covered.
But the scope of eligibility is broader than that. If you are a Peace Corps volunteer or a college student participating in the Reserve Officer Training Corps, serving in the Coast Guard Auxiliary or Civil Air Patrol, FECA is supposed to be there for you, too. State or local law enforcement officials serving in a federal capacity are entitled to FECA coverage, as are any persons serving on federal court juries.
Conditions warranting coverage is where things may be a little dicey. There is no specific list of what conditions are covered and which are not. The CRS says benefits are supposed to be paid for any death or disability resulting from illness or injury suffered while working for the federal government. But if the condition resulted from the worker’s misconduct, intentional actions to cause harm, or because the worker was intoxicated, compensation can be denied.
This covers just a couple of facets related to FECA coverage, but it’s clear already that the process can be a challenge. And in the face of difficulties, working with experienced legal counsel can be beneficial.