We suspect this is something most everyone has probably experienced before, especially at the big federal agency offices around the country. You happen to encounter a work colleague you haven't seen in awhile and he has a brace on his wrist that wasn't there before.
Being the caring person you are; you ask what happened. The response is, "Tendinitis. I'm sure it's work related." The next question it would seem legitimate to ask is, "Well, have you filed a workers' compensation claim?" Very often the answer that comes back is, "Wow, I guess I should."
Many people aren't familiar enough with the concept of workers' compensation to appreciate how it applies to them. When they get hurt, their first thought is to go see their regular doctor under their regular health insurance coverage. This could involve them having to pay a deductible or a copayment for the visit.
Workers' compensation operates differently. It is no-fault coverage provided in recognition that injuries on the job are something that shouldn't necessarily be counted as normal health and well-being. Further, the system in the federal work environment isn't handled the same as in the private sector. The laws governing eligibility for benefits and for how long they last are administered by the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs with the Department of Labor.
Denials are not unheard of. If benefits are approved, it can sometimes be a challenge to navigate the appeals process. To understand your rights as a federal worker and all your options for obtaining optimal coverage, it can take the help of a skilled federal workers' compensation attorney.
Additionally, once benefits are obtained, it can be a challenge to ensure they last for as long as they are really needed. We'll talk more about what can cause benefits to be terminated in our next post.