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Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, Department of Labor.
On August 13, 2010, the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed revisions to the regulations governing the administration of the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA). The FECA provides benefits to all civilian Federal employees and certain other groups of employees and individuals who are injured or killed while performing their jobs. At that time, DOL also proposed revisions to the regulations establishing the authority of the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) which administers the FECA.
The proposed changes were summarized in that publication. The existing rules have been amended to acknowledge a change in the organization of the OWCP and amendments to the FECA which have occurred since the last time the regulations were amended in 1999. These changes also update the regulations by taking into account changes in technology and other changes to improve administrative efficiency. As many FECA claimants are not represented, the regulations are revised to insert FECA statutory references as a frame of reference for clarity and ease of use. The regulations include adding the skin as an organ pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8107(c)(22). The regulations also create a new special schedule covering injuries to non-citizen non-resident Federal employees outside the United States. Finally, the regulations covering the processing of medical bills have been updated to provide for greater use of technology in that process to reduce costs and to clarify requirements for such submissions.
Effective Date: This final rule is effective on August 29, 2011.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
Douglas Fitzgerald, Director, Division of Federal Employees' Compensation, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, U.S. Department of Labor, Room S3229, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210, Telephone: 202-693-0040 (this is not a toll-free number). Individuals with hearing or speech impairments may access this telephone number via TTY by calling the toll-free Federal Information Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339.End Further Info End Preamble Start Supplemental Information
Proposed regulations were published in the Federal Register on August 13, 2010 (75 FR 49596). They allowed a 60-day period for comment, during which the DOL received timely comments from 251 parties: one comment was submitted by a Federal employing agency; two comments were received from labor organizations representing Federal employees; one comment was received from a medical professional association; 173 comments were received from private individuals; and 74 comments were received from attorneys. Also, 44 untimely comments were received from private individuals and attorneys; the points made by these commenters echoed those made in comments that were timely submitted. Almost all of the comments addressed the reinsertion of the FECA's explicit bar on receipt of contingency fees. Furthermore, a number of the comments addressed scheduling of hearings before the Branch of Hearings and Review and a proposed change in how a request for reconsideration is determined to be timely. A smaller number of comments addressed changes in language regarding suitable employment and loss of wage earning capacity determinations. Finally, individual comments were received addressing a small number of issues, including changes to procedures involving Peace Corps volunteers, questions regarding verbiage, and a number of issues not raised by the proposed changes to the FECA regulations. All of these comments are addressed below.
Two minor changes have been made to the notice of proposed rulemaking that did not result from any comments. The first change clarifies language in § 10.104 to promote ease of reading. The second change was to §§ 10.619, 10.818 and 10.819, which added “or equivalent service from a commercial carrier” in situations where OWCP is to use certified mail, return receipt requested when mailing notices or decisions. This change will provide greater flexibility in such mailings while providing for proof of receipt.
When publishing a final rule following a comment period, it is customary to publish only the changes that have been made to the rule; however, in order to be more user-friendly, OWCP is publishing the entire rule, including the parts that have not been changed. By doing so, only one document containing all of the regulations and commentary needs to be consulted rather than multiple documents.
I. Comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
The section numbers used in the headings of the following analysis are those that were used in the notice of proposed rulemaking. Unless otherwise stated, the section numbers in the text of the analysis refer to the numbering used for the final regulations. No comments were received with respect to parts 1 and 25.
One attorney suggested that the addition of language to subsection (b) of this section which discussed actions under the False Claims Act indicated that OWCP was changing this section to allow other agencies to institute actions under the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act. The addition of this language was only intended to notify employees that suits may be maintained under the False Claims Act. As such, the comment is well taken in that it indicates that placing this language in subsection (b) reduced the clarity of the regulation. Accordingly, the language has been moved to subsection (a).
Two labor organizations recommended the abbreviation “i.e.” be changed to “e.g.” because surgery is only one of multiple reasons that could support payment of wage-loss compensation for a limited period of disability in the presence of a loss-of-wage-earning-capacity determination. While OWCP does not think that such modification is required, the language has been changed to “such as” in an attempt to address the concerns expressed by the commenters and to add clarity through the use of plain language.
One medical provider noted that Round 1 of Medicare's Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding process covers only a limited number of metropolitan areas and closed on November 4, 2009. Registration for Round 2 has yet to open Start Printed Page 37899with no date even tentatively scheduled. As a result, many providers currently supplying durable medical equipment services for OWCP would be precluded from participation.
This provision was added to afford OWCP with a measure of reliability in durable medical equipment suppliers while avoiding the use of scarce program resources to police all such providers. The comment is well taken as there are two processes relating to DMEPOS under Medicare. Relevant to this regulation is Medicare's DMEPOS Accreditation Process. This process was established as a result of the Medicare Modernization Act to implement quality standards for suppliers of, among other things, durable medical equipment. The accreditation process is currently open and providers are still being enrolled. This section has therefore been modified to require registration under Medicare's DMEPOS Accreditation Process rather than Medicare's Competitive Bidding Program. This should address the concerns of the commenter.
One attorney suggested that the language should be changed to require OWCP to provide notice to the claimant of the right to object to the referee selection at the time the referee notice is sent and that OWCP bears the burden of showing that it complied with the strict rotational system. The only proposed change to the existing rule was to add the “impartial” nomenclature that the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB) uses in its appeal decisions for the third tie-breaking (referee) physician. This section explains under what circumstances OWCP will appoint a third physician to make an examination. There is no requirement in the statute, ECAB case law or OWCP procedure for such notices or rotational requirements or for placing such strict obligations on OWCP by regulation. In addition, OWCP needs to retain some flexibility as to how it selects its impartial specialists, as some esoteric specialties may require more flexibility in scheduling. Consequently, the language in this section has not been modified.
Two labor organizations commented that the proposed language does not clearly establish that USPS employees who use leave during the first three days of temporary disability should have their leave reinstated if the injury causes permanent disability or if the pay loss continues for more than 14 calendar days. This explanation is specifically provided in § 10.200(c). For clarity, a reference to § 10.200(c) and to 5 U.S.C. 8117(b) has been added.
One agency commented that this section omitted a discussion of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits. The proposed language contains nothing novel and no specific reference to VA benefits appeared in either the 1988 or 1999 final rules. Furthermore, the program's procedures have long contained instructions on determining when VA payments constitute a prohibited dual benefit under the statute, and OWCP is not aware of any problems which have arisen with respect to these instructions. Therefore, the program does not believe that it is necessary to address it by regulation.
Eight attorneys noted that the additional sentence added to paragraph (a) of this section ignores and appears to undercut a very necessary procedure that has been set up to protect the employee's vested interest in continuation of wage-loss benefits absent being afforded due process rights prior to any reduction or elimination of benefits.
Two labor organizations argued that the change to “appropriate work” in paragraph (b) of this section recasts the discussion into the context of loss of wage earning capacity determinations and that the term “appropriate” lacks a meaningful statutory or regulatory history and questioned the cross reference in § 10.515.
OWCP first notes that § 10.500, as evidenced by the question proposed in the title, is meant to provide the very basic rules on receipt of benefits and rules regarding return to work and its effect on compensation. The changes made to this section were to clarify these situations and to provide information to claimants regarding their obligation to perform light duty when the evidence establishes that work is available within the employee's restrictions. These comments, however, indicate an apparent misunderstanding of the basic intent of § 10.500. Accordingly, the section has been clarified by splitting up paragraphs (a) and (b) in the proposed rule to paragraphs (a)-(d) in this section. While these sections do not provide any new information or communicate a change in interpretation of current law, OWCP believes that the purpose and intent of the rule will be demonstrated more clearly. Furthermore, in any situation where benefits are reduced or denied under this section, OWCP will issue a decision that contains findings of fact and a statement of reasons. Where appropriate, such as in cases of ongoing continuous entitlement, OWCP will also provide the claimant notice of its proposed action as well as an opportunity to respond prior to issuing a decision based on this regulation. All such decisions will be accompanied by an explanation of the claimant's right to further administrative review including appeal to ECAB. These actions will address the due process concerns expressed by these organizations. Finally, the cross-reference that was questioned by the labor organizations was removed from § 10.515 as that was no longer needed.
The proposed new § 10.509 was modified by splitting this section into two sections, § 10.509 and § 10.510. Section 10.509 now covers only situations involving the effect of downsizing of a light duty position on compensation. This section elicited comment from eight attorneys who disputed the additional phrase requiring the employing agency to state, in writing, that no other employment is available as being simply conclusory in nature. However, this clarifying phrase does not impact the section's basic premise that employees who have a wage-earning capacity determination in place do not sustain a compensable recurrence of disability when they lose their light duty positions pursuant to reductions-in-force and merely codifies existing procedures. As such, no change has been made to this section.
Another commenter took issue with the use of “other forms of downsizing”, arguing that this allows the agency to evade responsibilities under any collective bargaining agreement and established RIF law. As this is a personnel matter outside the scope of these FECA regulations, no change is necessary to the regulations as a result of this comment.
This section elicited comments from sixty-nine individuals, all of which were form letters, as well as comments from nine attorneys and two labor organizations. All comments expressed concern that the change in language would undercut the job suitability determination process. The purpose of the section, as noted in the preamble to the proposed rule, was to clarify when a light duty job may form the basis of a loss of wage-earning capacity determination, and does not involve determinations regarding job suitability under 5 U.S.C. 8106(c). One of the Start Printed Page 37900fundamental bases for a loss of wage-earning capacity determination is that the position must fairly and reasonably represent an employee's ability to earn wages. As that basic factor was not explicitly expressed in this section, this language has been added.
Two labor organizations recommended the abbreviation “i.e.” be changed to “e.g.” because surgery is only one of multiple reasons that could support payment of wage-loss compensation for a limited period of disability in the presence of a loss-of-wage-earning-capacity determination. While no modification is strictly required, using the term “such as” will address the concerns expressed by the commenters and add clarity through the use of plain language.
Two labor organizations noted that, although the reference to OWCP nurses was removed from § 10.518, it was not removed from this section. The reference to registered nurses was deleted from § 10.518 as ECAB found that nurse services were not to be considered vocational rehabilitation for the purposes of imposing sanctions pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8113 (b). While OWCP will not apply such sanctions to non-cooperation with OWCP registered nurses, the reference remains in § 10.519(a) to allow for flexibility in coordinating the services of both registered nurses and vocational rehabilitation counselors in OWCP's return to work efforts for injured workers.
The proposed rule added this section to explain the ramifications of electing to receive retirement benefits instead of FECA benefits. While not averse to referencing existing procedure in the regulatory language, two labor organizations objected to the addition of the phrase “where OWCP is attempting to otherwise place that employee in a suitable job[.]” The commenters argued that such language was potentially so broad as to cover any effort, including those inconsistent with law, regulation or procedure, and such a regulation would be punitive toward injured workers electing retirement benefits in order to receive schedule award payments. OWCP does not believe a change in this section is warranted, as the requirements for determining a loss of wage earning capacity are well established. A loss of wage earning capacity determination does not constitute a sanction; this section will have no impact on the concurrent receipt of OPM retirement benefits and a schedule award that is plainly permissible under the statute.
Ninety commenters objected to the change to § 10.607, which modified the deadline for seeking reconsideration with OWCP on a denial of benefits from the requirement that the request “be sent within one year” to being “received” by OWCP within one year and requiring the request itself to be dated. Most of these comments were form letters. One commenter questioned whether the date would be the date received by OWCP or the date the letter is scanned into OWCP's electronic claim file system. Two commenters noted that this would create separate rules on deadlines for filing a request for reconsideration and a request for hearing with OWCP's Branch of Hearings and Review, in that the current rule in each instance bases the deadlines on the postmark on the envelope. The form letter comments suggested that this will increase the cost of filing reconsiderations by requiring claimants to send such requests by certified mail or facsimile in order to clearly know when the request has been received.
OWCP notes that the prior regulation, which allowed for the date a request for reconsideration was sent to be documented by postmark, predated the current electronic file system (iFECs). Due to the large volume of mail that is received and scanned into this file system, it is not feasible or efficient to keep envelopes for all mail scanned prior to determining whether such mail is a request for reconsideration, making it impossible to determine the date such a request was sent to OWCP. This anomaly led to situations where dated requests for reconsideration were received well past the one year deadline, but were required to be treated as timely under the prior regulations. Such a problem is not inherent in requests for oral hearings, as hearing requests are mailed directly to the Branch of Hearings and Review. Therefore no change was necessary to that procedure. OWCP believes that this difference in procedure will be clearly explained in the appeal rights notice to avoid confusion.
Furthermore, by 2012, OWCP will implement a free, Web-based system (E-COMP) that will allow claimants and representatives to directly upload documents to the electronic case file, minimizing both the cost and documentation questions noted by the commenters. Such electronic submissions should come at no cost to either the claimant or a representative and will provide instant acknowledgment as to when a document was received by OWCP.
Finally, OWCP notes that the one year period for requesting reconsideration is extremely generous compared to other benefit appeals systems. As noted in the preamble to the notice of proposed rulemaking, rather than cutting back the time to file such a request (to either 180 days, as with the ECAB, or 65 days, as with the Social Security Administration), OWCP simply chose to provide a solution that would allow OWCP to more easily document when the request was timely. The regulation provides more than ample time to both claimants and representatives to gather new evidence and submit a request for reconsideration. Accordingly, no change has been made to this section as a result of these comments.
Sections 10.616, 10.617 & 10.622
The notice of proposed rule making drew six comments, all from attorneys, in regards to §§ 10.616, 10.617 and 10.622. Although these sections address different issues, the comments all involved requests for additional flexibility in the scheduling of an oral hearing. One commenter specifically requested that the regulation be changed to require a hearing representative to consult with a claimant or representative prior to scheduling any hearing to arrange a mutually convenient time and place to hold the hearing. The remaining commenters simply asked that there be some coordination with the representative to better accommodate hearing calendars.
Due to the volume of hearing requests and limited resources available to conduct those hearings, OWCP is not able to grant the large degree of consultation and latitude in the scheduling or postponements of hearings requested by the commenters. However, the increased use of teleconferences and other technology in hearings affords OWCP some flexibility in scheduling that did not exist previously. Accordingly, OWCP has redrafted § 10.622 to provide greater flexibility while still maintaining OWCP's discretion in how and when these hearings are conducted. Specifically, OWCP added language allowing rescheduling within a monthly docket where a claimant or the representative has a prior unavoidable scheduling conflict and extended the previously existing language in paragraph (d) to include representatives as well.Start Printed Page 37901
One labor organization stated in reference to § 10.626 that OWCP should consider adding language that states that OWCP will follow decisions of the Employees' Compensations Appeals Board based on the unions reading of a FECA circular from 1990. OWCP notes however that this section deals solely with the jurisdiction over a claim while that claim is appealed to ECAB. OWCP notes that part 0 of the Federal (FECA) Procedure Manual clearly states that the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board is an independent body that has jurisdiction to determine appeals from denials of FECA benefits. Federal (FECA) Procedure Manual, part 0-0100-3.
An attorney commented that this section should include a mandatory requirement that copies of all documents in the case file, including e-mails, be automatically mailed to the claimant as well as the claimant's representative. OWCP notes that such a requirement is unnecessary, as the Privacy Act allows a claimant to request one free copy of all such documents and to sign a waiver allowing any representative to view those documents or receive a copy upon request. Furthermore, while representatives are frequently copied on correspondence to claimants, certain correspondence (such as the CA-1032) remains the direct responsibility of the claimant to complete and submit. For this reason, and based on program experience, OWCP will not impose the regulatory requirement suggested by this commenter and the regulation remains unchanged.
Sections 10.702 & 10.703
Two hundred forty-three of the comments, most of which were form letters, disagreed with the specific prohibition on contingency fees noted in these sections. One commenter strongly supported the ban on contingency fees as she believed that current fee application requirements compelled accountability on the part of the representative. Language specifically banning contingency fees was omitted during the last regulatory update, as the requirements for the fee application were believed to make the additional language redundant. Notwithstanding the regulation's explicit reference to hourly rates, the removal of this language left some with the impression that contingency fees were permissible and that the ban on contingency arrangements had been removed. ECAB precedent has stated that FECA does not allow for the payment of contingency fees, and the current regulations clearly contemplate the use of an hourly rate in determining representatives' fees. Furthermore, ECAB, in its recently published final rule, noted that no contract for a stipulated fee or on a contingent basis will be approved by ECAB. Federal Register cite. As 5 U.S.C. 8127 applies to representative fees before both ECAB and OWCP, OWCP will continue to conform its position on contingency fees with that of ECAB's. Consequently, no change has been made to this section as a result of these comments.
This section was amended to restore the statutory language applicable to coverage of claims involving Peace Corps volunteers. The use of “deemed proximately caused” mirrors the language in 5 U.S.C. 8142(c)(3). One attorney noted that the language of this section reverses the statutory burden of proof for Peace Corps Volunteers by adding additional requirements of proof in paragraph (b) and (c) to those that are required in 5 U.S.C. 8142(c)(3). The language to which the attorney took exception was not the amended language, but the general statutory requirement that a volunteer must sustain either an occupational disease or illness or a traumatic injury in order for FECA coverage to apply. As such, no change has been made to this section as a result of these comments.
One attorney commented that OWCP seldom sends a notice explaining appeal rights to the medical provider of reduced or denied fees and does not send notice to the claimant of a reduction or denial of a medical fee. This occasionally results in a claimant being sued years after the bill was denied or reduced.
The existing rule was unchanged in the notice of proposed rulemaking. Notification of payment, denial of payment or fee reduction of a service is supplied in writing to the provider requesting payment. A claimant may review the bills submitted in his/her case and information regarding the amount billed, paid and the reason for any denial is readily available on-line. Although § 10.813 of this part clearly states that claimants may not be billed for the difference when a fee is reduced, OWCP agrees that claimants may not realize that they are not responsible for medical charges exceeding the maximum allowed in the OWCP fee schedule. While no change has been made to this section, language regarding this concern has been added to the Web site and included in the acceptance letter sent to a claimant.
II. Administrative Requirements for the Proposed Rulemaking
Executive Orders 12866 and 13563
Executive Order 12866 directs agencies to assess all costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety effects; distributive impacts; and equity). Executive Order 13563 is supplemental to and reaffirms the principles, structures, and definitions governing regulatory review as established in Executive Order 12866.
This rule constitutes a “significant” rule within the meaning of Executive Order 12866 in that any executive agency could be required to participate in the development of claims for benefits under this regulatory action. OWCP believes, however, that as this rule merely updates existing regulations, this rule will not have a significant economic impact on the economy, or any person or organization subject to the proposed changes. OWCP has projected that the addition of the skin as an organ under the schedule award provision as well as the revision of the part 25 compensation for non-citizen non-resident employees will result in additional expenditures of $10,893,434 over ten years.
This projection is based on a very limited amount of data and a single significant event could result in substantially higher than projected expenditures. This has been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget for consistency with the President's priorities and the principles set forth in Executive Order 12866.
Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980
This rule has been reviewed in accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, 5 U.S.C. 601-612. OWCP has concluded that the rule does not involve regulatory and informational requirements regarding businesses, organizations, and governmental jurisdictions subject to regulation.
Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)
This rule contains information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995, 44 U.S.C. 3501, et seq. The Start Printed Page 37902requirements set out in this rule were both submitted to and approved by the OMB under the OMB Control Numbers 1240-0001, 1240-0007, 1240-0008, 1240-0009, 1240-0012, 1240-0013, 1240-0015, 1240-0016, 1240-0017, 1240-0018, 1240-0019, 1240-0022, 1240-0044, 1240-0045, 1240-0046, 1240-0047, 1240-0049, 1240-0050 and 1240-0051.
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969
OWCP certifies that this rule has been assessed in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq. (NEPA). OWCP concludes that NEPA requirements do not apply to this rulemaking because this rule includes no provisions impacting the maintenance, preservation, or enhancement of a healthful environment.
Federal Regulations and Policies on Families
OWCP has reviewed this rule in accordance with the requirements of section 654 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 1999, 5 U.S.C. 601 note. This rule was not found to have a potential negative effect on family well-being as it is defined thereunder.
Executive Order 13045: Protection of Children From Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks
OWCP certifies that this rule has been assessed regarding environmental health risks and safety risks that may disproportionately affect children. This rule was not found to have a potential negative effect on the health or safety of children.
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 and Executive Order 13132
OWCP has reviewed this rule in accordance with the requirements of Executive Order 13132, 64 FR 43225 (Aug. 10, 1999), and the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq., and has found no potential or substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. As there is no Federal mandate contained herein that could result in increased expenditures by State, local, or Tribal governments or by the private sector, OWCP has not prepared a budgetary impact statement.
Executive Order 13175: Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments
OWCP has reviewed this rule in accordance with Executive Order 13175, 65 FR 67249 (Nov. 9, 2000), and has determined that it does not have “Tribal implications.” The rule does not “have substantial direct effects on one or more Indian Tribes, on the relationship between the Federal government and Indian Tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal government and Indian Tribes.”
Executive Order 12630: Governmental Actions and Interference With Constitutionally Protected Property Rights
OWCP has reviewed this rule in accordance with Executive Order 12630, 53 FR 8859 (Mar. 15, 1988), and has determined that it does not contain any “policies that have takings implications” in regard to the “licensing, permitting, or other condition requirements or limitations on private property use, or that require dedications or exactions from owners of private property.”
Executive Order 13211: Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use
OWCP has reviewed this rule and has determined that the provisions of Executive Order 13211, 66 FR 28355 (May 18, 2001), are not applicable as there are no direct or implied effects on energy supply, distribution, or use.
The Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. 552a, as Amended
Claims filed under these regulations are subject to the current Privacy Act System of Records, DOL/GOVT-1, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, Federal Employees' Compensation Act File, 67 FR 16826 (April 8, 2002).
Clarity of This Regulation
Executive Order 12866, 58 FR 51735 (September 30, 1993), and the President's memorandum of June 1, 1998, require each agency to write all rules in plain language. OWCP invited comments on how to make the proposed rule easier to understand, and has incorporated plain language into the rule.Start List of Subjects
List of Subjects in 20 CFR Parts 1, 10, and 25End List of Subjects
For reasons set forth in the preamble, the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, Department of Labor, amends 20 CFR chapter I as follows:Start Amendment Part
1. Part 1 is revised to read as follows:End Amendment Part Start Part
PART 1—PERFORMANCE OF FUNCTIONS
- Under what authority does the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs operate?
- What functions are assigned to OWCP?
- What rules are contained in this chapter?
- Where are other rules concerning OWCP functions found?
- When was the former Bureau of Employees' Compensation abolished?
- How were many of OWCP's current functions administered in the past?
(a) The Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment Standards, by authority vested in him by the Secretary of Labor in Secretary's Order No. 13-71 (36 FR 8755), established in the Employment Standards Administration (ESA) an Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) by Employment Standards Order No. 2-74 (39 FR 34722). The Assistant Secretary subsequently designated as the head thereof a Director who, under the general supervision of the Assistant Secretary, administered the programs assigned to OWCP by the Assistant Secretary.
(b) Effective November 8, 2009, ESA was dissolved into its four component parts, including OWCP. Secretary of Labor's Order 10-2009 (74 FR 58834) cancelled or modified all prior orders and directives referencing ESA, devolved certain authorities and responsibilities of ESA to OWCP, and delegated authority to the Director, OWCP, to administer the programs now assigned directly to OWCP.
The Secretary of Labor has delegated authority and assigned responsibility to the Director of OWCP for the Department of Labor's programs under the following statutes:
(b) The War Hazards Compensation Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.).
(c) The War Claims Act of 1948, as amended (50 U.S.C. App. 2003 et seq.).
(d) The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000, as amended (42 U.S.C. 7384 et seq.), except 42 U.S.C. 7385s-15 as it pertains to the Office of the Ombudsman, and activities, pursuant to Executive Order 13179 (“Providing Compensation to America's Nuclear Weapons Workers”) of December 7, 2000, assigned to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Energy and the Attorney General.
(e) The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, as amended and extended (33 U.S.C. 901 et seq.), except: 33 U.S.C. 919(d) with respect to administrative law judges in the Office of Administrative Law Judges; 33 U.S.C. 921(b) as it pertains to the Benefits Review Board; and activities, pursuant to 33 U.S.C. 941, assigned to the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.
(f) The Black Lung Benefits Act, as amended (30 U.S.C. 901 et seq.)., including 26 U.S.C. 9501, except: 33 U.S.C. 919(d) as incorporated by 30 U.S.C. 932(a), with respect to administrative law judges in the Office of Administrative Law Judges; and 33 U.S.C. 921(b) as incorporated by 30 U.S.C. 932(a), as it applies to the Benefits Review Board.
The rules in this chapter are those governing the OWCP functions under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act, the War Hazards Compensation Act, the War Claims Act and the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000.
(a) The rules of OWCP governing its functions under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act and its extensions are set forth in subchapter A of chapter VI of this title.
(b) The rules of OWCP governing its functions under the Black Lung Benefits Act program are set forth in subchapter B of chapter VI of this title.
(c) The rules and regulations of the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board are set forth in chapter IV of this title.
(d) The rules and regulations of the Benefits Review Board are set forth in Chapter VII of this title.
By Secretary of Labor's Order issued September 23, 1974 (39 FR 34723), issued concurrently with Employment Standards Order 2-74 (39 FR 34722), the Secretary revoked the prior Secretary's Order No. 18-67 (32 FR 12979), which had delegated authority and assigned responsibility for the various workers' compensation programs enumerated in § 1.2, except the Black Lung Benefits Program and the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program not then in existence, to the Director of the former Bureau of Employees' Compensation.
(a) Administration of the Federal Employees' Compensation Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act was initially vested in an independent establishment known as the U.S. Employees' Compensation Commission. By Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1946 (3 CFR, 1943-1949 Comp., p. 1064; 60 Stat. 1095, effective July 16, 1946), the Commission was abolished and its functions were transferred to the Federal Security Agency to be performed by a newly created Bureau of Employees' Compensation within such Agency. By Reorganization Plan No. 19 of 1950 (15 FR 3178, 3 CFR, 1949-1954 Comp., page 1010, 64 Stat. 1271), said Bureau was transferred to the Department of Labor (DOL), and the authority formerly vested in the Administrator, Federal Security Agency, was vested in the Secretary of Labor. By Reorganization Plan No. 6 of 1950 (15 FR 3174, 3 CFR, 1949-1953 Comp., page 1004, 64 Stat. 1263), the Secretary of Labor was authorized to make from time to time such provisions as he shall deem appropriate, authorizing the performance of any of his functions by any other officer, agency, or employee of the DOL.
(b) In 1972, two separate organizational units were established within the Bureau: an Office of Workmen's Compensation Programs (37 FR 20533) and an Office of Federal Employees' Compensation (37 FR 22979). In 1974, these two units were abolished and one organizational unit, the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, was established in lieu of the Bureau of Employees' Compensation (39 FR 34722).
2. Part 10 is revised to read as follows:End Amendment Part Start Part
PART 10—CLAIMS FOR COMPENSATION UNDER THE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES' COMPENSATOIN ACT, AS AMENDED
- What are the provisions of the FECA, in general?
- What rules govern the administration of the FECA and this chapter?
- What do these regulations contain?
- Have the collection of information requirements of this part been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)?
- What definitions apply to the regulations in this subchapter?
- What special statutory definitions apply to dependents and survivors?
- What forms are needed to process claims under the FECA?
- Are all documents relating to claims filed under the FECA considered confidential?
- Who maintains custody and control of FECA records?
- How may a FECA claimant or beneficiary obtain copies of protected records?
- What process is used by a person who wants to correct FECA-related documents?
- May compensation rights be waived?
- What criminal and civil penalties may be imposed in connection with a claim under the FECA?
- Is a beneficiary who defrauds the Government in connection with a claim for benefits still entitled to those benefits?
- Can a beneficiary who is incarcerated based on a felony conviction still receive benefits?
- How and when is a notice of traumatic injury filed?
- How and when is a notice of occupational disease filed?
- How and when is a claim for wage loss compensation filed?
- How and when is a claim for permanent impairment filed?
- How and when is a claim for recurrence filed?
- How and when is a notice of death and claim for benefits filed?
- What should the employer do when an employee files a notice of traumatic injury or occupational disease?Start Printed Page 37904
- What should the employer do when an employee files an initial claim for compensation due to disability or permanent impairment?
- What should the employer do when an employee files a claim for continuing compensation due to disability?
- What should the employer do when an employee dies from a work-related injury or disease?
- What evidence is needed to establish a claim?
- What additional evidence is needed in cases based on occupational disease?
- What happens if, in any claim, the employer contests any of the facts as stated by the claimant?
- Does the employer participate in the claims process in any other way?
- What action will OWCP take with respect to information submitted by the employer?
- May a claimant submit additional evidence?
- What happens if OWCP needs more evidence from the claimant?
- How does OWCP determine entitlement to benefits?
- What does the decision contain?
- To whom is the decision sent?
- What is continuation of pay?
- What conditions must be met to receive COP?
- May an employee who uses leave after an injury later decide to use COP instead?
- May an employee who returns to work, then stops work again due to the effects of the injury, receive COP?
- What are the employee's responsibilities in COP cases?
- What are the employer's responsibilities in COP cases?
- How does OWCP compute the number of days of COP used?
- How is the pay rate for COP calculated?
- Is COP charged if the employee continues to work, but in a different job that pays less?
- When is an employer not required to pay COP?
- How is a claim for COP controverted?
- When may an employer terminate COP which has already begun?
- Are there other circumstances under which OWCP will not authorize payment of COP?
- What happens if OWCP finds that the employee is not entitled to COP after it has been paid?
- What are the basic rules for authorizing emergency medical care?
- May the physician designated on Form CA-16 refer the employee to another medical specialist or medical facility?
- Should the employer authorize medical care if he or she doubts that the injury occurred, or that it is work-related?
- Should the employer use a Form CA-16 to authorize medical testing when an employee is exposed to a workplace hazard just once?
- Are there any exceptions to these procedures for obtaining medical care?
- What are the basic rules for obtaining medical care?
- What are the special rules for the services of chiropractors?
- What are the special rules for the services of clinical psychologists?
- Will OWCP pay for preventive treatment?
- Will OWCP pay for the services of an attendant?
- Will OWCP pay for transportation to obtain medical treatment?
- After selecting a treating physician, may an employee choose to be treated by another physician instead?
- Can OWCP require an employee to be examined by another physician?
- What happens if the opinion of the physician selected by OWCP differs from the opinion of the physician selected by the employee?
- Who pays for second opinion and referee examinations?
- What are the penalties for failing to report for or obstructing a second opinion or referee examination?
- May an employer require an employee to undergo a physical examination in connection with a work-related injury?
- What are the requirements for medical reports?
- How and when should the medical report be submitted?
- What additional medical information will OWCP require to support continuing payment of benefits?
- What additional medical information will OWCP require to support a claim for a schedule award?
- How are medical bills submitted?
- What are the time frames for submitting bills?
- If an employee is only partially reimbursed for a medical expense, must the provider refund the balance of the amount paid to the employee?
- What is total disability?
- When and how is compensation for total disability paid?
- What is partial disability?
- When and how is compensation for partial disability paid?
- When and how is compensation for a schedule impairment paid?
- Who is considered a dependent in a claim based on disability or impairment?
- What are the maximum and minimum rates of compensation in disability cases?
- Who is entitled to compensation in case of death, and what are the rates of compensation payable in death cases?
- What are the maximum and minimum rates of compensation in death cases?
- Will OWCP pay the costs of burial and transportation of the remains?
- May a schedule award be paid after an employee's death?
- What reports of dependents are needed in death cases?
- What must a beneficiary do if the number of beneficiaries decreases?
- How does a change in the number of beneficiaries affect the amount of compensation paid to the other beneficiaries?
- What reports are needed when compensation payments continue for children over age 18?
- How are cost-of-living adjustments applied?
- May a beneficiary receive other kinds of payments from the Federal Government concurrently with compensation?
- May compensation payments be issued in a lump sum?
- May compensation payments be assigned to, or attached by, creditors?
- May someone other than the beneficiary be designated to receive compensation payments?
- May compensation be claimed for periods of restorable leave?
- How does OWCP notify an individual of a payment made?
- What does OWCP do when an overpayment is identified?
- How can an individual present evidence to OWCP in response to a preliminary notice of an overpayment?
- Under what circumstances can OWCP waive recovery of an overpayment?
- If OWCP finds that the recipient of an overpayment was not at fault, what criteria are used to decide whether to waive recovery of it?
- Is an individual responsible for an overpayment that resulted from an error made by OWCP or another Government agency?Start Printed Page 37905
- Under what circumstances would recovery of an overpayment defeat the purpose of the FECA?
- Under what circumstances would recovery of an overpayment be against equity and good conscience?
- Can OWCP require the individual who received the overpayment to submit additional financial information?
- What is addressed at a pre-recoupment hearing?
- How does OWCP communicate its final decision concerning recovery of an overpayment, and what appeal right accompanies it?
- How are overpayments collected?
- What are the basic rules governing continuing receipt of compensation benefits and return to work?
- What medical evidence is necessary to support continuing receipt of compensation benefits?
- How does OWCP evaluate evidence in support of continuing receipt of compensation benefits?
- Under what circumstances may OWCP reduce or terminate compensation benefits?
- What actions must the employer take?
- May the employer monitor the employee's medical care?
- How should the employer make an offer of suitable work?
- May relocation expenses be paid for an employee who would need to move to accept an offer of reemployment?
- If an employee's light duty job is eliminated due to downsizing, what is the effect on compensation?
- When may a light duty job form the basis of a loss of wage-earning capacity determination?
- How may a loss of wage-earning capacity determination be modified?
- What actions must the employee take with respect to returning to work?
- How will an employee know if OWCP considers a job to be suitable?
- What are the penalties for refusing to accept a suitable job offer?
- Does OWCP provide services to help employees return to work?
- What action will OWCP take if an employee refuses to undergo vocational rehabilitation?
- How does OWCP determine compensation after an employee completes a vocational rehabilitation program?
- If an employee elects to receive retirement benefits instead of FECA benefits, what effect may such an election have on that employee's entitlement to FECA compensation?
- What information must the employee report?
- Must the employee report volunteer activities?
- Does OWCP verify reports of earnings?
- What action will OWCP take if the employee fails to file a report of activity indicating an ability to work?
- What action will OWCP take if the employee files an incomplete report?
- How are dependents defined, and what information must the employee report?
- What is the penalty for failing to submit a report of dependents?
- What reports are needed when compensation payments continue for children over age 18?
- When and how is compensation reduced or terminated?
- What action will OWCP take after issuing written notice of its intention to reduce or terminate compensation?
- How can final decisions of OWCP be reviewed?
- What is reconsideration?
- How does a claimant request reconsideration?
- What is the time limit for requesting reconsideration?
- How does OWCP decide whether to grant or deny the request for reconsideration?
- How does OWCP decide whether new evidence requires modification of the prior decision?
- What is a review by the Director?
- What is a hearing?
- How does a claimant obtain a hearing?
- How is an oral hearing conducted?
- How is a review of the written record conducted?
- May subpoenas be issued for witnesses and documents?
- Who pays the costs associated with subpoenas?
- What is the employer's role when an oral hearing has been requested?
- May a claimant or representative withdraw a request for or postpone a hearing?
- What kinds of decisions may be appealed?
- Who has jurisdiction of cases on appeal to the ECAB?
- May a claimant designate a representative?
- Who may serve as a representative?
- How are fees for services paid?
- How are fee applications approved?
- What penalties apply to representatives who collect a fee without approval?
- When must an employee or other FECA beneficiary take action against a third party?
- How will a beneficiary know if OWCP or SOL has determined that action against a third party is required?
- What must a FECA beneficiary who is required to take action against a third party do to satisfy the requirement that the claim be “prosecuted”?
- Can a FECA beneficiary who refuses to comply with a request to assign a claim to the United States or to prosecute the claim in his or her own name be penalized?
- What happens if a beneficiary directed by OWCP or SOL to take action against a third party does not believe that a claim can be successfully prosecuted at a reasonable cost?
- Under what circumstances must a recovery of money or other property in connection with an injury or death for which benefits are payable under the FECA be reported to OWCP or SOL?
- How is the amount of the recovery of the FECA beneficiary determined?
- How much of any settlement or judgment must be paid to the United States?
- How is a structured settlement (that is, a settlement providing for receipt of funds over a specified period of time) treated for purposes of reporting the gross recovery?
- What amounts are included in the refundable disbursements?
- Is a beneficiary required to pay interest on the amount of the refund due to the United States?
- If the required refund is not paid within 30 days of the request for repayment, can it be collected from payments due under the FECA?
- Is a settlement or judgment received as a result of allegations of medical malpractice in treating an injury covered by the FECA a gross recovery that must be reported to OWCP or SOL?
- Are payments to a beneficiary as a result of an insurance policy which the beneficiary has purchased a gross recovery that must be reported to OWCP or SOL?
- If a settlement or judgment is received for more than one wound or medical condition, can the refundable disbursements paid on a single FECA claim be attributed to different conditions for purposes of calculating the refund or credit owed to the United States?Start Printed Page 37906
- When is a Federal grand or petit juror covered under the FECA?
- When does a juror's entitlement to disability compensation begin?
- What is the pay rate of jurors for compensation purposes?
- What are the conditions of coverage for Peace Corps volunteers and volunteer leaders injured while serving outside the United States?
- What is the pay rate of Peace Corps volunteers and volunteer leaders for compensation purposes?
- When is a non-Federal law enforcement officer (LEO) covered under the FECA?
- What are the time limits for filing a LEO claim?
- How is a LEO claim filed, and who can file a LEO claim?
- Under what circumstances are benefits payable in LEO claims?
- What kind of objective evidence of a potential Federal crime must exist for coverage to be extended?
- In what situations will OWCP automatically presume that a law enforcement officer is covered by the FECA?
- How are benefits calculated in LEO claims?
- How do providers enroll with OWCP for authorizations and billing?
- How are medical bills to be submitted?
- How should an employee prepare and submit requests for reimbursement for medical expenses, transportation costs, loss of wages, and incidental expenses?
- What are the time limitations on OWCP's payment of bills?
- What services are covered by the OWCP fee schedule?
- How are the maximum fees defined?
- How are payments for particular services calculated?
- Does the fee schedule apply to every kind of procedure?
- How are payments for medicinal drugs determined?
- How are payments for inpatient medical services determined?
- When and how are fees reduced?
- If OWCP reduces a fee, may a provider request reconsideration of the reduction?
- If OWCP reduces a fee, may a provider bill the claimant for the balance?
- What are the grounds for excluding a provider from payment under the FECA?
- What will cause OWCP to automatically exclude a physician or other provider of medical services and supplies?
- How are OWCP's exclusion procedures initiated?
- How is a provider notified of OWCP's intent to exclude him or her?
- What requirements must the provider's answer and OWCP's decision meet?
- How can an excluded provider request a hearing?
- How are hearings assigned and scheduled?
- How are subpoenas or advisory opinions obtained?
- How will the administrative law judge conduct the hearing and issue the recommended decision?
- How does the recommended decision become final?
- What are the effects of exclusion?
- How can an excluded provider be reinstated?
- What is the death gratuity under this subpart?
- Which employees are covered under this subpart?
- Does every employee's death due to injuries incurred in connection with his or her service with an Armed Force in a contingency operation qualify for the death gratuity?
- Is the death gratuity payment applicable retroactively?
- Does a death as a result of occupational disease qualify for payment of the death gratuity?
- If an employee incurs a covered injury in connection with his or her service with an Armed Force in a contingency operation but does not die of the injury until years later, does the death qualify for payment of the death gratuity?
- What special statutory definitions apply to survivors under this subpart?
- What order of precedence will OWCP use to determine which survivors are entitled to receive the death gratuity payment under this subpart?
- Can an employee designate alternate beneficiaries to receive a portion of the death gratuity payment?
- How does an employee designate a variation in the order or percentage of gratuity payable to survivors and how does the employee designate alternate beneficiaries?
- What if a person entitled to a portion of the death gratuity payment dies after the death of the covered employee but before receiving his or her portion of the death gratuity?
- How is the death gratuity payment process initiated?
- What is required to establish a claim for the death gratuity payment?
- In what situations will OWCP consider that an employee incurred injury in connection with his or her service with an Armed Force in a contingency operation?
- What are the responsibilities of the employing agency in the death gratuity payment process?
- What are the responsibilities of OWCP in the death gratuity payment process?
- How is the amount of the death gratuity calculated?
Subpart A—General Provisions
The Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) as amended (5 U.S.C. 8101 et seq.) provides for the payment of workers' compensation benefits to civilian officers and employees of all branches of the Government of the United States. The regulations in this part describe the rules for filing, processing, and paying claims for benefits under the FECA. Proceedings under the FECA are non-adversarial in nature.
(a) The FECA has been amended and extended a number of times to provide workers' compensation benefits to volunteers in the Civil Air Patrol (5 U.S.C. 8141), members of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (5 U.S.C. 8140), Peace Corps Volunteers (5 U.S.C. 8142), Job Corps enrollees and Volunteers in Service to America (5 U.S.C. 8143), members of the National Teachers Corps (5 U.S.C. 8143a), certain student employees (5 U.S.C. 5351 and 8144), certain law enforcement officers not employed by the United States (5 U.S.C. 8191-8193), and various other classes of persons who provide or have provided services to the Government of the United States.
(b) The FECA provides for payment of several types of benefits, including compensation for wage loss, schedule awards, medical and related benefits, and vocational rehabilitation services for conditions resulting from injuries sustained in performance of duty while in service to the United States.
(c) The FECA also provides for payment of monetary compensation to specified survivors of an employee whose death resulted from a work-related injury and for payment of certain burial expenses subject to the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 8134.
(d) All types of benefits and conditions of eligibility listed in this section are subject to the provisions of the FECA and of this part. This section shall not be construed to modify or Start Printed Page 37907enlarge upon the provisions of the FECA.
In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 8145 and Secretary's Order 5-96, the responsibility for administering the FECA, except for 5 U.S.C. 8149 as it pertains to the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board, has been delegated to the Director of the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP). Except as otherwise provided by law, the Director, OWCP and his or her designees have the exclusive authority to administer, interpret and enforce the provisions of the Act.
This part 10 sets forth the regulations governing administration of all claims filed under the FECA, except to the extent specified in certain particular provisions. Its provisions are intended to assist persons seeking compensation benefits under the FECA, as well as personnel in the various Federal agencies and the Department of Labor who process claims filed under the FECA or who perform administrative functions with respect to the FECA. This part 10 applies to part 25 of this chapter except as modified by part 25. The various subparts of this part contain the following:
(a) Subpart A. The general statutory and administrative framework for processing claims under the FECA. It contains a statement of purpose and scope, together with definitions of terms, descriptions of basic forms, information about the disclosure of OWCP records, and a description of rights and penalties under the FECA, including convictions for fraud.
(b) Subpart B. The rules for filing notices of injury and claims for benefits under the FECA. It also addresses evidence and burden of proof, as well as the process of making decisions concerning eligibility for benefits.
(c) Subpart C. The rules governing claims for and payment of continuation of pay.
(d) Subpart D. The rules governing emergency and routine medical care, second opinion and referee medical examinations directed by OWCP, and medical reports and records in general. It also addresses the kinds of treatment which may be authorized and how medical bills are paid.
(e) Subpart E. The rules relating to the payment of monetary compensation benefits for disability, impairment and death. It includes the provisions for identifying and processing overpayments of compensation.
(f) Subpart F. The rules governing the payment of continuing compensation benefits. It includes provisions concerning the employee's and the employer's responsibilities in returning the employee to work. It also contains provisions governing reports of earnings and dependents, recurrences, and reduction and termination of compensation benefits.
(g) Subpart G. The rules governing the appeals of decisions under the FECA. It includes provisions relating to hearings, reconsiderations, and appeals before the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board.
(h) Subpart H. The rules concerning legal representation and for adjustment and recovery from a third party. It also contains provisions relevant to three groups of employees whose status requires special application of the provisions of the FECA: Federal grand and petit jurors, Peace Corps volunteers, and non- Federal law enforcement officers.
(i) Subpart I. Information for medical providers. It includes rules for medical reports, medical bills, and the OWCP medical fee schedule, as well as the provisions for exclusion of medical providers.
(j) Subpart J. Death Gratuity. The rules relating to the payment of the death gratuity benefit under 5 U.S.C. 8102a.
The collection of information requirements in this part have been approved by OMB and assigned OMB control numbers 1240-0001, 1240-0007, 1240-0008, 1240-0009, 1240-0012, 1240-0013, 1240-0015, 1240-0016, 1240-0017, 1240-0018, 1240-0019, 1240-0022, 1240-0044, 1240-0045, 1240-0046, 1240-0047, 1240-0049, 1240-0050 and 1240-0051.
Definitions and Forms
Certain words and phrases found in this part are defined in this section or in the FECA. Some other words and phrases that are used only in limited situations are defined in the later subparts of the regulations in this subchapter.
(a) Benefits or Compensation in the regulations in this subchapter means Compensation as defined by the FECA at 5 U.S.C. 8101(12), which is the money OWCP pays to or on behalf of a beneficiary from the Employees' Compensation Fund. The terms Benefits and Compensation include payments for lost wages, loss of wage-earning capacity, and permanent physical impairment. The terms Benefits and Compensation also include the money paid to beneficiaries for an employee's death, including both death benefits and any death gratuity benefit. These two terms also include any other amounts paid out of the Employees' Compensation Fund for such things as medical treatment, medical examinations conducted at the request of OWCP as part of the claims adjudication process, vocational rehabilitation services under 5 U.S.C. 8111, services of an attendant and funeral expenses under 5 U.S.C. 8134, but do not include continuation of pay as provided by 5 U.S.C. 8118.
(b) Beneficiary means an individual who is entitled to a benefit under the FECA and this part.
(c) Claim means a written assertion of an individual's entitlement to benefits under the FECA, submitted in a manner authorized by this part.
(d) Claimant means an individual whose claim has been filed.
(e) Director means the Director of OWCP or a person designated to carry out his or her functions.
(f) Disability means the incapacity, because of an employment injury, to earn the wages the employee was receiving at the time of injury. It may be partial or total.
(g) Earnings from employment or self-employment means:
(1) Gross earnings or wages before any deductions and includes the value of subsistence, quarters, reimbursed expenses and any other goods or services received in kind as remuneration; or
(2) A reasonable estimate of the cost to have someone else perform the duties of an individual who accepts no remuneration. Neither lack of profits, nor the characterization of the duties as a hobby, removes an unremunerated individual's responsibility to report the estimated cost to have someone else perform his or her duties.
(h) Employee means, but is not limited to, an individual who fits within one of the following listed groups:
(1) A civil officer or employee in any branch of the Government of the United States, including an officer or employee of an instrumentality wholly owned by the United States pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8101(1)(A);
(2) An individual rendering personal service to the United States similar to the service of a civil officer or employee of the United States, without pay or for nominal pay, when a statute authorizes Start Printed Page 37908the acceptance or use of the service, or authorizes payment of travel or other expenses of the individual pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8101(1)(B);
(3) An individual, other than an independent contractor or an individual employed by an independent contractor, employed on the Menominee Indian Reservation in Wisconsin in operations conducted under a statute relating to Tribal timber and logging operations on that reservation pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8101(1)(C);
(4) An individual appointed to a position on the office staff of a former President under section 1(b) of the Act of August 25, 1958 (72 Stat. 838) pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8101(1)(E); or
(5) An individual selected and serving as a Federal petit or grand juror pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8101(1)(F).
(i) Employer or Agency means any civil agency or instrumentality of the United States Government, or any other organization, group or institution employing an individual defined as an “employee” by this section. These terms also refer to officers and employees of an employer having responsibility for the supervision, direction or control of employees of that employer as an “immediate superior,” and to other employees designated by the employer to carry out the functions vested in the employer under the FECA and this part, including officers or employees delegated responsibility by an employer for authorizing medical treatment for injured employees.
(j) Entitlement means entitlement to benefits as determined by OWCP under the FECA and the procedures described in this part.
(k) FECA means the Federal Employees' Compensation Act, as amended.
(l) Hospital services means services and supplies provided by hospitals within the scope of their practice as defined by State law.
(m) Impairment means any anatomic or functional abnormality or loss. A permanent impairment is any such abnormality or loss after maximum medical improvement has been achieved.
(n) Knowingly means with knowledge, consciously, willfully or intentionally.
(o) Medical services means services and supplies provided by or under the supervision of a physician. Reimbursable chiropractic services are limited to physical examinations (and related laboratory tests), x-rays performed to diagnose a subluxation of the spine and treatment consisting of manual manipulation of the spine to correct a subluxation.
(p) Medical support services means services, drugs, supplies and appliances provided by a person other than a physician or hospital.
(q) Occupational disease or illness means a condition produced by the work environment over a period longer than a single workday or shift.
(r) OWCP means the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs.
(s) Pay rate for compensation purposes means the employee's pay, as determined under 5 U.S.C. 8114, at the time of injury, the time disability begins or the time compensable disability recurs if the recurrence begins more than six months after the injured employee resumes regular full-time employment with the United States, whichever is greater, except as otherwise determined under 5 U.S.C. 8113 with respect to any period.
(t) Physician means an individual defined as such in 5 U.S.C. 8101(2), except during the period for which his or her license to practice medicine has been suspended or revoked by a State licensing or regulatory authority.
(u) Qualified hospital means any hospital licensed as such under State law which has not been excluded under the provisions of subpart I of this part. Except as otherwise provided by regulation, a qualified hospital shall be deemed to be designated or approved by OWCP.
(v) Qualified physician means any physician who has not been excluded under the provisions of subpart I of this part. Except as otherwise provided by regulation, a qualified physician shall be deemed to be designated or approved by OWCP.
(w) Qualified provider of medical support services or supplies means any person, other than a physician or a hospital, who provides services, drugs, supplies and appliances for which OWCP makes payment, who possesses any applicable licenses required under State law, and who has not been excluded under the provisions of subpart I of this part.
(x) Recurrence of disability means an inability to work after an employee has returned to work, caused by a spontaneous change in a medical condition which had resulted from a previous injury or illness without an intervening injury or new exposure to the work environment that caused the illness. This term also means an inability to work that takes place when a light-duty assignment made specifically to accommodate an employee's physical limitations due to his or her work-related injury or illness is withdrawn or when the physical requirements of such an assignment are altered so that they exceed his or her established physical limitations. A recurrence of disability does not apply when a light-duty assignment is withdrawn for reasons of misconduct, non-performance of job duties or other downsizing or where a loss of wage-earning capacity determination as provided by 5 U.S.C. 8115 is in place.
(y) Recurrence of medical condition means a documented need for further medical treatment after release from treatment for the accepted condition or injury when there is no accompanying work stoppage. Continuous treatment for the original condition or injury is not considered a “need for further medical treatment after release from treatment,” nor is an examination without treatment.
(z) Representative means an individual or law firm properly authorized by a claimant in writing to act for the claimant in connection with a claim or proceeding under the FECA or this part.
(aa) Student means an individual defined at 5 U.S.C. 8101(17). Two terms used in that particular definition are further defined as follows:
(1) Additional type of educational or training institution means a technical, trade, vocational, business or professional school accredited or licensed by the United States Government or a State Government or any political subdivision thereof providing courses of not less than three months duration, that prepares the individual for a livelihood in a trade, industry, vocation or profession.
(2) Year beyond the high school level means:
(i) The 12-month period beginning the month after the individual graduates from high school, provided he or she had indicated an intention to continue schooling within four months of high school graduation, and each successive 12-month period in which there is school attendance or the payment of compensation based on such attendance; or
(ii) If the individual has indicated that he or she will not continue schooling within four months of high school graduation, the 12-month period beginning with the month that the individual enters school to continue his or her education, and each successive 12-month period in which there is school attendance or the payment of compensation based on such attendance.
(bb) Subluxation means an incomplete dislocation, off-centering, misalignment, fixation or abnormal spacing of the vertebrae which must be demonstrable on any x-ray film to an Start Printed Page 37909individual trained in the reading of x-rays.
(cc) Surviving spouse means the husband or wife living with or dependent for support upon a deceased employee at the time of his or her death, or living apart for reasonable cause or because of the deceased employee's desertion, unless otherwise defined under the FECA for the specific benefit such as the FECA death gratuity at 5 U.S.C. 8102a.
(dd) Temporary aggravation of a pre-existing condition means that factors of employment have directly caused that condition to be more severe for a limited period of time and have left no greater impairment than existed prior to the employment injury.
(ee) Traumatic injury means a condition of the body caused by a specific event or incident, or series of events or incidents, within a single workday or shift. Such condition must be caused by external force, including stress or strain, which is identifiable as to time and place of occurrence and member or function of the body affected.
(a) 5 U.S.C. 8133 provides that certain benefits are payable to certain enumerated survivors of employees who have died from an injury sustained in the performance of duty.
(b) 5 U.S.C. 8148 also provides that certain other benefits may be payable to certain family members of employees who have been incarcerated due to a felony conviction.
(c) 5 U.S.C. 8110(b) further provides that any employee who is found to be eligible for a basic benefit shall be entitled to have such basic benefit augmented at a specified rate for certain persons who live in the beneficiary's household or who are dependent upon the beneficiary for support.
(d) 5 U.S.C. 8101, 8110, 8133, and 8148, which define the nature of such survivorship or dependency necessary to qualify a beneficiary for a survivor's benefit or an augmented benefit, apply to the provisions of this part but not to the death gratuity provided under subpart J.
(e) 5 U.S.C. 8102a provides the definitions for survivorship or dependency necessary to qualify as a beneficiary for a death gratuity benefit as well as allowing half the death gratuity benefit to be paid to alternate beneficiary.
(a) Notice of injury, claims and certain specified reports shall be made on forms prescribed by OWCP. Employers shall not modify these forms or use substitute forms. Employers are expected to maintain an adequate supply of the basic forms needed for the proper recording and reporting of injuries.
|(1) CA-1||Federal Employee's Notice of Traumatic Injury and Claim for Continuation of Pay/Compensation.|
|(2) CA-2||Notice of Occupational Disease and Claim for Compensation.|
|(3) CA-2a||Notice of Employee's Recurrence of Disability and Claim for Pay/Compensation.|
|(4) CA-3||Report of Work Status.|
|(5) CA-5||Claim for Compensation by Widow, Widower and/or Children.|
|(6) CA-5b||Claim for Compensation by Parents, Brothers, Sisters, Grandparents, or Grandchildren.|
|(7) CA-6||Official Superior's Report of Employee's Death.|
|(8) CA-7||Claim for Compensation Due to Traumatic Injury or Occupational Disease.|
|(9) CA-7a||Time Analysis Form.|
|(10) CA-7b||Leave Buy Back (LBB) Worksheet/Certification and Election.|
|(11) CA-16||Authorization of Examination and/or Treatment.|
|(12) CA-17||Duty Status Report.|
|(13) CA-20||Attending Physician's Report.|
|(14) CA-20a||Attending Physician's Supplemental Report.|
|(15) CA-40||Designation of a Recipient of the Federal Employees' Compensation Act Death Gratuity Payment under Section 1105 of Public Law 110-181 (Section 8102a).|
|(16) CA-41||Claim for Survivor Benefits Under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act Section 8102a Death Gratuity.|
|(17) CA-42||Official Notice of Employees' Death for Purposes of FECA Section 8102a Death Gratuity.|
|(18) CA-1108||Statement of Recovery Letter with Long Form.|
|(19) CA-1122||Statement of Recovery Letter with Short Form.|
(b) Copies of the forms listed in this paragraph are available for public inspection at the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, DC 20210. They may also be obtained from district offices, employers (i.e., safety and health offices, supervisors), and the Internet, at http://www.dol.gov.
Information in Program Records
All records relating to claims for benefits, including copies of such records maintained by an employer, are considered confidential and may not be released, inspected, copied or otherwise disclosed except as provided in the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act of 1974 or under the routine uses provided by DOL/GOVT-1 if such release is consistent with the purpose for which the record was created.
All records relating to claims for benefits filed under the FECA, including any copies of such records maintained by an employing agency, are covered by the government-wide Privacy Act system of records entitled DOL/GOVT-1 (Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, Federal Employees' Compensation Act File). This system of records is maintained by and under the control of OWCP, and, as such, all records covered by DOL/GOVT-1 are official records of OWCP. The protection, release, inspection and copying of records covered by DOL/GOVT-1 shall be accomplished in accordance with the rules, guidelines and provisions of this part, as well as those contained in 29 CFR parts 70 and 71, and with the notice of the system of records and routine uses published in the Federal Register. All questions relating to access/disclosure, and/or amendment of FECA records maintained by OWCP or the employing agency, are to be resolved in accordance with this section.
(a) A claimant seeking copies of his or her official FECA file should address a request to the District Director of the OWCP office having custody of the file. A claimant seeking copies of FECA-related documents in the custody of the employer should follow the procedures established by that agency.
(b) (1) While an employing agency may establish procedures that an injured employee or beneficiary should follow in requesting access to documents it maintains, any decision issued in response to such a request must comply with the rules and regulations of the Department of Labor which govern all other aspects of safeguarding these records.
(2) No employing agency has the authority to issue determinations with Start Printed Page 37910respect to requests for the correction or amendment of records contained in or covered by DOL/GOVT-1. That authority is within the exclusive control of OWCP. Thus, any request for correction or amendment received by an employing agency must be referred to OWCP for review and decision.
(3) Any administrative appeal taken from a denial issued by the employing agency or OWCP shall be filed with the Solicitor of Labor in accordance with 29 CFR 71.7 and 71.9.
Any request to amend a record covered by DOL/GOVT-1 should be directed to the district office having custody of the official file. No employer has the authority to issue determinations with regard to requests for the correction of records contained in or covered by DOL/GOVT-1. Any request for correction received by an employer must be referred to OWCP for review and decision.
Rights and Penalties
No employer or other person may require an employee or other claimant to enter into any agreement, either before or after an injury or death, to waive his or her right to claim compensation under the FECA. No waiver of compensation rights shall be valid.
(a) A number of statutory provisions make it a crime to file a false or fraudulent claim or statement with the Government in connection with a claim under the FECA, or to wrongfully impede a FECA claim. Included among these provisions are 18 U.S.C. 287, 1001, 1920, and 1922. Furthermore, a civil action to recover benefits paid erroneously under the FECA may be maintained under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733. Enforcement of such provisions that may apply to claims under the FECA is within the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice.
(b) In addition, administrative proceedings may be initiated under the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act of 1986 (PFCRA), 31 U.S.C. 3801-12, to impose civil penalties and assessments against persons who make, submit, or present, or cause to be made, submitted or presented, false, fictitious or fraudulent claims or written statements to OWCP in connection with a claim under the FECA. The Department of Labor's regulations implementing the PFRCA are found at 29 CFR part 22.
When a beneficiary either pleads guilty to or is found guilty on either Federal or State criminal charges of defrauding the Federal Government in connection with a claim for benefits, the beneficiary's entitlement to any further compensation benefits will terminate effective the date of conviction, which is the date of the verdict or, in the case of a plea bargain, the date the claimant made the plea in open court (not the date of sentencing or the date court papers were signed). The employing agency may, upon request, be required to provide the documentation needed for termination under this section. Termination of entitlement under this section is not affected by any subsequent change in or recurrence of the beneficiary's medical condition.
(a) Whenever a beneficiary is incarcerated in a State or Federal jail, prison, penal institution or other correctional facility due to a State or Federal felony conviction, he or she forfeits all rights to compensation benefits during the period of incarceration. A beneficiary's right to compensation benefits for the period of his or her incarceration is not restored after such incarceration ends, even though payment of compensation benefits may resume. A beneficiary has an affirmative duty to provide notice of any conviction and imprisonment. The employing agency shall provide OWCP any information or documentation they may have concerning such matters.
(b) If the beneficiary has eligible dependents, OWCP will pay compensation to such dependents at a reduced rate during the period of his or her incarceration, by applying the percentages of 5 U.S.C. 8133(a)(1) through (5) to the beneficiary's gross current entitlement rather than to the beneficiary's monthly pay.
(c) If OWCP's decision on entitlement is pending when the period of incarceration begins, and compensation is due for a period of time prior to such incarceration, payment for that period will only be made to the beneficiary following his or her release.
Subpart B—Filing Notices and Claims; Submitting Evidence
Notices and Claims for Injury, Disease, and Death—Employee or Survivor's Actions
(a) To claim benefits under the FECA, an employee who sustains a work-related traumatic injury must give notice of the injury in writing on Form CA-1, which may be obtained from the employer or from the Internet at www.dol.gov under forms. The employee must forward this notice to the employer. Another person, including the employer, may give notice of injury on the employee's behalf. The person submitting a notice shall include the Social Security Number (SSN) of the injured employee. All such notices should be submitted electronically wherever feasible to facilitate processing of such claims. All employers that currently do not have such capability should create such a method by December 31, 2012.
(b) For injuries sustained on or after September 7, 1974, a notice of injury must be filed within three years of the injury. (The form contains the necessary words of claim.) The requirements for filing notice are further described in 5 U.S.C. 8119. Also see § 10.205 concerning time requirements for filing claims for continuation of pay.
(1) If the claim is not filed within three years, compensation may still be allowed if notice of injury was given within 30 days or the employer had actual knowledge of the injury or death within 30 days after occurrence. This knowledge may consist of written records or verbal notification. An entry into an employee's medical record may also satisfy this requirement if it is sufficient to place the employer on notice of a possible work-related injury or disease.
(2) OWCP may excuse failure to comply with the three-year time requirement because of truly exceptional circumstances (for example, being held prisoner of war).
(3) The claimant may withdraw his or her claim (but not the notice of injury) by so requesting in writing to OWCP at any time before OWCP determines eligibility for benefits. Any continuation of pay (COP) granted to an employee after a claim is withdrawn must be charged to sick or annual leave, or considered an overpayment of pay consistent with 5 U.S.C. 5584, at the employee's option.
(c) However, in cases of latent disability, the time for filing claim does Start Printed Page 37911not begin to run until the employee has a compensable disability and is aware, or reasonably should have been aware, of the causal relationship between the disability and the employment (see 5 U.S.C. 8122(b)).
(a) To claim benefits under the FECA, an employee who has a disease which he or she believes to be work-related must give notice of the condition in writing on Form CA-2, which may be obtained from the employer or from the Internet at www.dol.gov under forms. The employee must forward this notice to the employer. Another person, including the employer, may do so on the employee's behalf. The person submitting a notice shall include the Social Security Number (SSN) of the injured employee. All such notices should be submitted electronically wherever feasible to facilitate processing of such claims. All employers that currently do not have such capability should create such a method by December 31, 2012. The claimant may withdraw his or her claim (but not the notice of occupational disease) by so requesting in writing to OWCP at any time before OWCP determines eligibility for benefits.
(b) For occupational diseases sustained as a result of exposure to injurious work factors that occurs on or after September 7, 1974, a notice of occupational disease must be filed within three years of the onset of the condition. (The form contains the necessary words of claim.) The requirements for timely filing are described in § 10.100(b)(1) through (3).
(c) However, in cases of latent disability, the time for filing claim does not begin to run until the employee has a compensable disability and is aware, or reasonably should have been aware, of the causal relationship between the disability and the employment (see 5 U.S.C. 8122(b)).
(a) Form CA-7 is used to claim compensation for periods of disability not covered by COP.
(1) An employee who is disabled with loss of pay for more than three calendar days due to an injury, or someone acting on his or her behalf, must file Form CA-7 before compensation can be paid.
(2) The employee shall complete the front of Form CA-7 and submit the form to the employer for completion and transmission to OWCP. The form should be completed as soon as possible, but no more than 14 calendar days after the date pay stops due to the injury or disease. All such notices should be submitted electronically wherever feasible to facilitate processing of such claims. All employers that currently do not have such capability should create such a method by December 31, 2012.
(3) The requirements for filing claims are further described in 5 U.S.C. 8121.
(b) Form CA-7 is also used to claim compensation for additional periods of disability following the initial injury.
(1) It is the employee's responsibility to submit Form CA-7. Without receipt of such claim, OWCP has no knowledge of continuing wage loss. Therefore, while disability continues, the employee should submit a claim on Form CA-7 each two weeks until otherwise instructed by OWCP.
(2) The employee shall complete the front of Form CA-7 and submit the form to the employer for completion and transmission to OWCP.
(3) The employee is responsible for submitting, or arranging for the submittal of, medical evidence to OWCP which establishes both that disability continues and that the disability is due to the work-related injury. Form CA-20a is submitted with Form CA-7 for this purpose.
Form CA-7 is used to claim compensation for impairment to a body part covered under the schedule established by 5 U.S.C. 8107. All such notices should be submitted electronically wherever feasible to facilitate processing of such claims. All employers that currently do not have such capability should create such a method by December 31, 2012. If Form CA-7 has already been filed to claim disability compensation, an employee may file a claim for such impairment by sending a letter to OWCP which specifies the nature of the benefit claimed. OWCP may create a form specifically for schedule award claims; if that form is created, only that form may be used to file a claim under 5 U.S.C. 8107.
(a) A recurrence should be reported on Form CA-2a if that recurrence causes the employee to lose time from work and incur a wage loss, or if the employee experiences a renewed need for treatment after previously being released from care. However, a notice of recurrence should not be filed when a new injury, new occupational disease, or new event contributing to an already-existing occupational disease has occurred. In these instances, the employee should file Form CA-1 or CA-2.
(b) The employee has the burden of establishing by the weight of reliable, probative and substantial evidence that the recurrence of disability is causally related to the original injury.
(1) The employee must include a detailed factual statement as described on Form CA-2a. The employer may submit comments concerning the employee's statement.
(2) The employee should arrange for the submittal of a detailed medical report from the attending physician as described on Form CA-2a. The employee should also submit, or arrange for the submittal of, similar medical reports for any examination and/or treatment received after returning to work following the original injury.
(c) A claim for recurrence of disability is not available where OWCP has issued a loss of wage-earning capacity determination. Under that circumstance, the only method for claiming additional wage loss compensation is through a request to modify that determination. However, OWCP is not precluded from adjudicating a limited period of disability following the issuance of a loss of wage-earning capacity decision, such as where an employee has a demonstrated need for surgery.
(a) If an employee dies from a work-related traumatic injury or an occupational disease, any survivor may file a claim for death benefits using Form CA-5 or CA-5b, which may be obtained from the employer or from the Internet at www.dol.gov under forms. The survivor must provide this notice in writing and forward it to the employer. Another person, including the employer, may do so on the survivor's behalf. The survivor may also submit the completed Form CA-5 or CA-5b directly to OWCP. The survivor shall disclose the SSNs of all survivors on whose behalf claim for benefits is made in addition to the SSN of the deceased employee. All such notices should be submitted electronically wherever feasible to facilitate processing of such claims. All employers that currently do not have such capability should create such a method by December 31, 2012. The survivor may withdraw his or her claim (but not the notice of death) by so requesting in writing to OWCP at any time before OWCP determines eligibility for benefits.
(b) For deaths that occur on or after September 7, 1974, a notice of death must be filed within three years of the Start Printed Page 37912death. The form contains the necessary words of claim. The requirements for timely filing are described in § 10.100(b)(1) through (3).
(c) However, in cases of death due to latent disability, the time for filing the claim does not begin to run until the survivor is aware, or reasonably should have been aware, of the causal relationship between the death and the employment (see 5 U.S.C. 8122(b)).
(d) The filing of a notice of injury or occupational disease will satisfy the time requirements for a death claim based on the same injury or occupational disease. If an injured employee or someone acting on the employee's behalf does not file a claim before the employee's death, the right to claim compensation for disability other than medical expenses ceases and does not survive.
(e) A survivor must be alive to receive any payment; there is no vested right to such payment. A report as described in § 10.414 of this part must be filed once each year to support continuing payments of compensation.
Notices and Claims for Injury, Disease, and Death—Employer's Actions
(a) The employer shall complete the agency portion of Form CA-1 (for traumatic injury) or CA-2 (for occupational disease) no more than 10 working days after receipt of notice from the employee. The employer shall also complete the Receipt of Notice and give it to the employee, along with copies of both sides of Form CA-1 or Form CA-2.
(b) The employer must complete and transmit the form to OWCP within 10 working days after receipt of notice from the employee if the injury or disease will likely result in:
(1) A medical charge against OWCP;
(2) Disability for work beyond the day or shift of injury;
(3) The need for more than two appointments for medical examination and/or treatment on separate days, leading to time loss from work;
(4) Future disability;
(5) Permanent impairment; or
(6) Continuation of pay pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8118.
(c) The employer should not wait for submittal of supporting evidence before sending the form to OWCP.
(d) If none of the conditions in paragraph (b) of this section applies, the Form CA-1 or CA-2 shall be retained as a permanent record in the Employee Medical Folder in accordance with the guidelines established by the Office of Personnel Management.
(a) Except for employees covered by paragraph (d) of this section, when an employee is disabled by a work-related injury and loses pay for more than three calendar days, or has a permanent impairment or serious disfigurement as described in 5 U.S.C. 8107, the employer shall furnish the employee with Form CA-7 for the purpose of claiming compensation.
(b) If the employee is receiving continuation of pay (COP), the employer should give Form CA-7 to the employee by the 30th day of the COP period and submit the form to OWCP by the 40th day of the COP period. If the employee has not returned the form to the employer by the 40th day of the COP period, the employer should ask him or her to submit it as soon as possible.
(c) Upon receipt of Form CA-7 from the employee, or someone acting on his or her behalf, the employer shall complete the appropriate portions of the form. As soon as possible, but no more than five working days after receipt from the employee, the employer shall forward the completed Form CA-7 and any accompanying medical report to OWCP.
(d) Postal Service employees are not entitled to compensation or continuation of pay for the waiting period, the first three days of disability. Such employees may use annual leave, sick leave or leave without pay during that period; however, if the disability exceeds 14 days, the employee may have their sick leave or annual leave reinstated or receive pay for the time spent on leave without pay. This waiting period does not apply to the provision of medical care, and days of time loss for medical treatment only with no work-related disability do not count as part of the waiting period. A Postal Service employee seeking wage loss compensation for this period should utilize Form CA-7 to claim such benefits.
(a) If the employee continues in a leave-without-pay status due to a work-related injury after the period of compensation initially claimed on Form CA-7, the employer shall furnish the employee with another Form CA-7 for the purpose of claiming continuing compensation.
(b) Upon receipt of Form CA-7 from the employee, or someone acting on his or her behalf, the employer shall complete the appropriate portions of the form. As soon as possible, but no more than five working days after receipt from the employee, the employer shall forward the completed Form CA-7 and any accompanying medical report to OWCP.
(a) The employer shall immediately report a death due to a work-related traumatic injury or occupational disease to OWCP by telephone, telegram, or facsimile (fax). No more than 10 working days after notification of the death, the employer shall complete and send Form CA-6 to OWCP.
(b) When possible, the employer shall furnish a Form CA-5 or CA-5b to all persons likely to be entitled to compensation for death of an employee. The employer should also supply information about completing and filing the form.
(c) The employer shall promptly transmit Form CA-5 or CA-5b to OWCP. The employer shall also promptly transmit to OWCP any other claim or paper submitted which appears to claim compensation on account of death.
Evidence and Burden of Proof
Forms CA-1, CA-2, CA-5 and CA-5b describe the basic evidence required. OWCP may send a request for additional evidence to the claimant and to his or her representative, if any; however the burden of proof still remains with the claimant. Evidence should be submitted in writing. The evidence submitted must be reliable, probative and substantial. Each claim for compensation must meet five requirements before OWCP can accept it. These requirements, which the employee must establish to meet his or her burden of proof, are as follows:
(a) The claim was filed within the time limits specified by the FECA;
(b) The injured person was, at the time of injury, an employee of the United States as defined in 5 U.S.C. 8101(1) and § 10.5(h) of this part;
(c) The fact that an injury, disease or death occurred;
(d) The injury, disease or death occurred while the employee was in the performance of duty; and
(e) The medical condition for which compensation or medical benefits is claimed is causally related to the Start Printed Page 37913claimed injury, disease or death. Neither the fact that the condition manifests itself during a period of Federal employment, nor the belief of the claimant that factors of employment caused or aggravated the condition, is sufficient in itself to establish causal relationship.
(f) In all claims, the claimant is responsible for submitting, or arranging for submittal of, a medical report from the attending physician. For wage loss benefits, the claimant must also submit medical evidence showing that the condition claimed is disabling. The rules for submitting medical reports are found in §§ 10.330 through 10.333.
(a) The employee must submit the specific detailed information described on Form CA-2 and should submit any checklist (Form CA-35, A-H) provided by the employer. OWCP has developed these checklists to address particular occupational diseases. The medical report should also include the information specified on the checklist for the particular disease claimed.
(b) The employer should submit the specific detailed information described on Form CA-2 and on any checklist pertaining to the claimed disease.
(a) An employer who has reason to disagree with any aspect of the claimant's report shall submit a statement to OWCP that specifically describes the factual allegation or argument with which it disagrees and provide evidence or argument to support its position. The employer may include supporting documents such as witness statements, medical reports or records, or any other relevant information.
(b) Any such statement shall be submitted to OWCP with the notice of traumatic injury or death, or within 30 calendar days from the date notice of occupational disease or death is received from the claimant. If the employer does not submit a written explanation to support the disagreement, OWCP may accept the claimant's report of injury as established. The employer may not use a disagreement with an aspect of the claimant's report to delay forwarding the claim to OWCP or to compel or induce the claimant to change or withdraw the claim.
(a) The employer is responsible for submitting to OWCP all relevant and probative factual and medical evidence in its possession, or which it may acquire through investigation or other means. Such evidence may be submitted at any time.
(b) The employer may ascertain the events surrounding an injury and the extent of disability where it appears that an employee who alleges total disability may be performing other work, or may be engaging in activities which would indicate less than total disability. This authority is in addition to that given in § 10.118(a). However, the provisions of the Privacy Act apply to any endeavor by the employer to ascertain the facts of the case (see §§ 10.10 and 10.11).
(c) The employer does not have the right, except as provided in subpart C of this part, to actively participate in the claims adjudication process.
OWCP will consider all evidence submitted appropriately, and OWCP will inform the employee, the employee's representative, if any, and the employer of any action taken. Where an employer contests a claim within 30 days of the initial submittal and the claim is later approved, OWCP will notify the employer of the rationale for approving the claim.
A claimant or a person acting on his or her behalf may submit to OWCP at any time any other evidence relevant to the claim.
If the claimant submits factual evidence, medical evidence, or both, but OWCP determines that this evidence is not sufficient to meet the burden of proof, OWCP will inform the claimant of the additional evidence needed. The claimant will be allowed at least 30 days to submit the evidence required. OWCP is not required to notify the claimant a second time if the evidence submitted in response to its first request is not sufficient to meet the burden of proof.
Decisions on Entitlement to Benefits
(a) In reaching any decision with respect to FECA coverage or entitlement, OWCP considers the claim presented by the claimant, the report by the employer, and the results of such investigation as OWCP may deem necessary.
(b) OWCP claims staff apply the law, the regulations, and its procedures to the facts as reported or obtained upon investigation. They also apply decisions of the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board and administrative decisions of OWCP as set forth in FECA Program Memoranda.
The decision shall contain findings of fact and a statement of reasons. It is accompanied by information about the claimant's appeal rights, which may include the right to a hearing, a reconsideration, and/or a review by the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board. (See subpart G of this part.)
A copy of the decision shall be mailed to the employee's last known address. If the employee has a designated representative before OWCP, a copy of the decision will also be mailed to the representative. A copy of the decision will also be sent to the employer.
Subpart C—Continuation of Pay
(a) For most employees who sustain a traumatic injury, the FECA provides that the employer must continue the employee's regular pay during any periods of resulting disability, up to a maximum of 45 calendar days. This is called continuation of pay, or COP. The employer, not OWCP, pays COP. Unlike wage loss benefits, COP is subject to taxes and all other payroll deductions that are made from regular income.
(b) The employer must continue the pay of an employee, except for Postal Service employees pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8117 and as provided below in paragraph (c) of this section, who is eligible for COP, and may not require the employee to use his or her own sick or annual leave, unless the provisions of §§ 10.200(c), 10.220, or 10.222 apply. However, while continuing the employee's pay, the employer may controvert the employee's COP entitlement pending a final determination by OWCP. OWCP has the exclusive authority to determine questions of entitlement and all other issues relating to COP.
(c) Postal Service employees are not entitled to continuation of pay for the first 3 days of temporary disability and may use annual, sick or leave without pay during that period, except that if the disability exceeds 14 days or is followed by permanent disability, the Postal Start Printed Page 37914Service employee may have that leave restored.
(d) The FECA excludes certain persons from eligibility for COP. COP cannot be authorized for members of these excluded groups, which include but are not limited to: persons rendering personal service to the United States similar to the service of a civil officer or employee of the United States, without pay or for nominal pay; volunteers (for instance, in the Civil Air Patrol and Peace Corps); Job Corps and Youth Conservation Corps enrollees; individuals in work- study programs, and grand or petit jurors (unless otherwise Federal employees).
Eligibility for COP
(a) To be eligible for COP, a person must:
(1) Have a “traumatic injury” as defined at § 10.5(ee) which is job-related and the cause of the disability, and/or the cause of lost time due to the need for medical examination and treatment;
(2) File Form CA-1 within 30 days of the date of the injury (but if that form is not available, using another form would not alone preclude receipt); and
(3) Begin losing time from work due to the traumatic injury within 45 days of the injury.
(b) OWCP may find that the employee is not entitled to COP for other reasons consistent with the statute (see § 10.220).
On Form CA-1, an employee may elect to use accumulated sick or annual leave, or leave advanced by the agency, instead of electing COP. The employee can change the election between leave and COP for prospective periods at any point while eligibility for COP remains. The employee may also change the election for past periods and request COP in lieu of leave already taken for the same period. In either situation, the following provisions apply:
(a) The request must be made to the employer within one year of the date the leave was used or the date of the written approval of the claim by OWCP (if written approval is issued), whichever is later.
(b) Where the employee is otherwise eligible, the agency shall restore leave taken in lieu of any of the 45 COP days. Where any of the 45 COP days remain unused, the agency shall continue pay prospectively.
(c) The use of leave may not be used to delay or extend the 45-day COP period or to otherwise affect the time limitation as provided by 5 U.S.C. 8117. Therefore, any leave used during the period of eligibility counts towards the 45-day maximum entitlement to COP.
If the employee recovers from disability and returns to work, then becomes disabled again and stops work, the employer shall pay any of the 45 days of entitlement to COP not used during the initial period of disability where:
(a) The employee completes Form CA-2a and elects to receive regular pay;
(b) OWCP did not deny the original claim for disability;
(c) The disability recurs and the employee stops work within 45 days of the time the employee first returned to work following the initial period of disability; and
(d) Pay has not been continued for the entire 45 days.
An employee who sustains a traumatic injury which he or she considers disabling, or someone authorized to act on his or her behalf, must take the following actions to ensure continuing eligibility for COP. The employee must:
(a) Complete and submit Form CA-1 to the employing agency as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days from the date the traumatic injury occurred.
(b) Ensure that medical evidence supporting disability resulting from the claimed traumatic injury, including a statement as to when the employee can return to his or her date of injury job, is provided to the employer within 10 calendar days after filing the claim for COP.
(c) Ensure that relevant medical evidence is submitted to OWCP, and cooperate with OWCP in developing the claim.
(d) Ensure that the treating physician specifies work limitations and provides them to the employer and/or representatives of OWCP.
(e) Provide to the treating physician a description of any specific alternative positions offered the employee, and ensure that the treating physician responds promptly to the employer and/or OWCP, with an opinion as to whether and how soon the employee could perform that or any other specific position.
Once the employer learns of a traumatic injury sustained by an employee, it shall:
(a) Provide a Form CA-1 and Form CA-16 to authorize medical care in accordance with § 10.300. Failure to do so may mean that OWCP will not uphold any termination of COP by the employer.
(b) Advise the employee of the right to receive COP, and the need to elect among COP, annual or sick leave or leave without pay, for any period of disability.
(c) Inform the employee of any decision to controvert COP and/or terminate pay, and the basis for doing so.
(d) Complete Form CA-1 and transmit it, along with all other available pertinent information, (including the basis for any controversion), to OWCP within 10 working days after receiving the completed form from the employee.
Calculation of COP
COP is payable for a maximum of 45 calendar days, and every day used is counted toward this maximum. The following rules apply:
(a) Time lost on the day or shift of the injury does not count toward COP. (Instead, the agency must keep the employee in a pay status for that period);
(b) The first COP day is the first day disability begins following the date of injury (providing it is within the 45 days following the date of injury), except where the injury occurs before the beginning of the work day or shift, in which case the date of injury is charged to COP;
(c) Any part of a day or shift (except for the day of the injury) counts as a full day toward the 45 calendar day total;
(d) Regular days off are included if COP has been used on the regular work days immediately preceding or following the regular day(s) off, and medical evidence supports disability; and
(e) Leave used during a period when COP is otherwise payable is counted toward the 45-day COP maximum as if the employee had been in a COP status.
(f) For employees with part-time or intermittent schedules, all calendar days on which medical evidence indicates disability are counted as COP days, regardless of whether the employee was or would have been scheduled to work on those days. The rate at which COP is paid for these employees is calculated according to § 10.216(b).
The employer shall calculate COP using the period of time and the weekly pay rate.
(a) The pay rate for COP purposes is equal to the employee's regular “weekly” pay (the average of the weekly pay over the preceding 52 weeks).
(1) The pay rate excludes overtime pay, but includes other applicable extra pay except to the extent prohibited by law.
(2) Changes in pay or salary (for example, promotion, demotion, within-grade increases, termination of a temporary detail, etc.) which would have otherwise occurred during the 45-day period are to be reflected in the weekly pay determination.
(b) The weekly pay for COP purposes is determined according to the following formulas:
(1) For full or part-time workers (permanent or temporary) who work the same number of hours each week of the year (or of the appointment), the weekly pay rate is the hourly pay rate (A) in effect on the date of injury multiplied by (×) the number of hours worked each week (B): A × B = Weekly Pay Rate.
(2) For part-time workers (permanent or temporary) who do not work the same number of hours each week, but who do work each week of the year (or period of appointment), the weekly pay rate is an average of the weekly earnings, established by dividing (÷) the total earnings (excluding overtime) from the year immediately preceding the injury (A) by the number of weeks (or partial weeks) worked in that year (B): A ÷ B = Weekly Pay Rate.
(3) For intermittent and seasonal workers, whether permanent or temporary, who do not work either the same number of hours or every week of the year (or period of appointment), the weekly pay rate is the average weekly earnings established by dividing (÷) the total earnings during the full 12-month period immediately preceding the date of injury (excluding overtime) (A), by the number of weeks (or partial weeks) worked during that year (B) (that is, A ÷ B); or 150 times the average daily wage earned in the employment during the days employed within the full year immediately preceding the date of injury divided by 52 weeks, whichever is greater.
If the employee cannot perform the duties of his or her regular position, but instead works in another job with different duties with no loss in pay, then COP is not chargeable. COP must be paid and the days counted against the 45 days authorized by law whenever an actual reduction of pay results from the injury, including a reduction of pay for the employee's normal administrative workweek that results from a change or diminution in his or her duties following an injury. However, this does not include a reduction of pay that is due solely to an employer being prohibited by law from paying extra pay to an employee for work he or she does not actually perform.
Controversion and Termination of COP
An employer shall continue the regular pay of an eligible employee without a break in time for up to 45 calendar days, except when, and only when:
(a) The disability was not caused by a traumatic injury;
(b) The employee is not a citizen of the United States or Canada;
(c) No written claim was filed within 30 days from the date of injury;
(d) The injury was not reported until after employment has been terminated;
(e) The injury occurred off the employing agency's premises and was otherwise not within the performance of official duties;
(f) The injury was caused by the employee's willful misconduct, intent to injure or kill himself or herself or another person, or was proximately caused by intoxication by alcohol or illegal drugs; or
(g) Work did not stop until more than 45 days following the injury.
When the employer stops an employee's pay for one of the reasons cited in § 10.220, the employer must controvert the claim for COP on Form CA-1, explaining in detail the basis for the refusal. The final determination on entitlement to COP always rests with OWCP.
(a) Where the employer has continued the pay of the employee, it may be stopped only when at least one of the following circumstances is present:
(1) Medical evidence which on its face supports disability due to a work-related injury is not received within 10 calendar days after the claim is submitted (unless the employer's own investigation shows disability to exist). Where the medical evidence is later provided, however, COP shall be reinstated retroactive to the date of termination;
(2) The medical evidence from the treating physician shows that the employee is not disabled from his or her regular position;
(3) Medical evidence from the treating physician shows that the employee is not totally disabled, and the employee refuses a written offer of a suitable alternative position which is approved by the attending physician. If OWCP later determines that the position was not suitable, OWCP will direct the employer to grant the employee COP retroactive to the termination date.
(4) The employee returns to work with no loss of pay;
(5) The employee's period of employment expires or employment is otherwise terminated (as established prior to the date of injury);
(6) OWCP directs the employer to stop COP; and/or
(7) COP has been paid for 45 calendar days.
(b) An employer may not interrupt or stop COP to which the employee is otherwise entitled because of a disciplinary action, unless a preliminary notice was issued to the employee before the date of injury and the action becomes final or otherwise takes effect during the COP period.
(c) An employer cannot otherwise stop COP unless it does so for one of the reasons found in this section or § 10.220. Where an employer stops COP, it must file a controversion with OWCP, setting forth the basis on which it terminated COP, no later than the effective date of the termination.
When OWCP finds that an employee or his or her representative refuses or obstructs a medical examination required by OWCP, the right to COP is suspended until the refusal or obstruction ceases. COP already paid or payable for the period of suspension is forfeited. If already paid, the COP may be charged to annual or sick leave or considered an overpayment of pay consistent with 5 U.S.C. 5584.
Where OWCP finds that the employee is not entitled to COP after it has been paid, the employee may chose to have the time charged to annual or sick leave, or considered an overpayment of pay under 5 U.S.C. 5584. The employer must correct any deficiencies in COP as directed by OWCP.
Subpart D—Medical and Related Benefits
Emergency Medical Care
(a) When an employee sustains a work-related traumatic injury that requires medical examination, medical treatment, or both, the employer shall authorize such examination and/or treatment by issuing a Form CA-16. This form may be used for occupational disease or illness only if the employer has obtained prior permission from OWCP.
(b) The employer shall issue Form CA-16 within four hours of the claimed injury. If the employer gives verbal authorization for such care, he or she should issue a Form CA-16 within 48 hours. The employer is not required to issue a Form CA-16 more than one week after the occurrence of the claimed injury. The employer may not authorize examination or medical or other treatment in any case that OWCP has disallowed.
(c) Form CA-16 must contain the full name and address of the qualified physician or qualified medical facility authorized to provide service. The authorizing official must sign and date the form and must state his or her title. Form CA-16 authorizes treatment for 60 days from the date of injury, unless OWCP terminates the authorization sooner.
(d) The employer should advise the employee of the right to his or her initial choice of physician. The employer shall allow the employee to select a qualified physician, after advising him or her of those physicians excluded under subpart I of this part. The physician may be in private practice, including a health maintenance organization (HMO), or employed by a Federal agency such as the Department of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Veterans Affairs. Any qualified physician may provide initial treatment of a work-related injury in an emergency. See also § 10.825(b).
The physician designated on Form CA-16 may refer the employee for further examination, testing, or medical care. OWCP will pay this physician or facility's bill on the authority of Form CA-16. The employer should not issue a second Form CA-16.
If the employer doubts that the injury occurred, or that it is work-related, he or she should authorize medical care by completing Form CA-16 and checking block 6B of the form. If the medical and factual evidence sent to OWCP shows that the condition treated is not work-related, OWCP will notify the employee, the employer, and the physician or hospital that OWCP will not authorize payment for any further treatment.
(a) Simple exposure to a workplace hazard, such as an infectious agent, does not constitute a work-related injury entitling an employee to medical treatment under the FECA. The employer therefore should not use a Form CA-16 to authorize medical testing for an employee who has merely been exposed to a workplace hazard, unless the employee has sustained an identifiable injury or medical condition as a result of that exposure. OWCP will authorize preventive treatment only under certain well-defined circumstances (see § 10.313).
(b) Employers may be required under other statutes or regulations to provide their employees with medical testing and/or other services in situations described in paragraph (a) of this section. For example, regulations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration at 29 CFR chapter XVII require employers to provide their employees with medical consultations and/or examinations when they either exhibit symptoms consistent with exposure to a workplace hazard, or when an identifiable event such as a spill, leak or explosion occurs and results in the likelihood of exposure to a workplace hazard. In addition, 5 U.S.C. 7901 authorizes employers to establish health programs whose staff can perform tests for workplace hazards, counsel employees for exposure or feared exposure to such hazards, and provide health care screening and other associated services.
In cases involving emergencies or unusual circumstances, OWCP may authorize treatment in a manner other than as stated in this subpart.
Medical Treatment and Related Issues
(a) The employee is entitled to receive all medical services, appliances or supplies which a qualified physician prescribes or recommends and which OWCP considers necessary to treat the work-related injury. Billing for these services is described in subpart I of this part. The employee need not be disabled to receive such treatment. If there is any doubt as to whether a specific service, appliance or supply is necessary to treat the work-related injury, the employee should consult OWCP prior to obtaining it through the automated authorization process described in § 10.800. OWCP may also utilize the services of a field nurse to facilitate and coordinate medical care for the employee. OWCP may contract with a specific provider or providers to supply such services or appliances, including durable medical equipment and prescribed medications.
(b) Any qualified physician or qualified hospital may provide such services, appliances and supplies. Non-physician providers such as physicians' assistants, nurse practitioners and physical therapists may also provide authorized services for injured employees to the extent allowed by applicable Federal and State law.
(c) Where OWCP has not contracted for the provision of appliances or supplies, only a supplier of durable medical equipment that is registered in Medicare's Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies Accreditation process may furnish such appliances and supplies. OWCP may apply a test of cost-effectiveness to appliances and supplies, may offset the cost of prior rental payments against a future purchase price, and may provide refurbished appliances where appropriate.
(a) The services of chiropractors that may be reimbursed are limited by the FECA to treatment to correct a spinal subluxation. The costs of physical and related laboratory tests performed by or required by a chiropractor to diagnose such a subluxation are also payable.
(b) In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 8101(3), a diagnosis of spinal “subluxation as demonstrated by X-ray to exist” must appear in the chiropractor's report before OWCP can consider payment of a chiropractor's bill.
(c) A chiropractor may interpret his or her x-rays to the same extent as any other physician. To be given any weight, Start Printed Page 37917the medical report must state that x-rays support the finding of spinal subluxation. OWCP will not necessarily require submittal of the x-ray, or a report of the x-ray, but the report must be available for submittal on request.
(d) A chiropractor may also provide services in the nature of physical therapy under the direction of, and as prescribed by, a qualified physician.
A clinical psychologist may serve as a physician only within the scope of his or her practice as defined by State law. Therefore, a clinical psychologist may not serve as a physician for conditions that include a physical component unless the applicable State law allows clinical psychologists to treat physical conditions. A clinical psychologist may also perform testing, evaluation and other services under the direction of a qualified physician.
The FECA does not authorize payment for preventive measures such as vaccines and inoculations, and in general, preventive treatment may be a responsibility of the employing agency under the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 7901 (see § 10.303). However, OWCP can authorize treatment for the following conditions, even though such treatment is designed, in part, to prevent further injury:
(a) Complications of preventive measures which are provided or sponsored by the agency, such as an adverse reaction to prophylactic immunization.
(b) Actual or probable exposure to a known contaminant due to an injury, thereby requiring disease-specific measures against infection. Examples include the provision of tetanus antitoxin or booster toxoid injections for puncture wounds; administration of rabies vaccine for a bite from a rabid or potentially rabid animal; or appropriate measures where exposure to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has occurred.
(c) Conversion of tuberculin reaction from negative to positive following exposure to tuberculosis in the performance of duty. In this situation, the appropriate therapy may be authorized.
(d) Where injury to one eye has resulted in loss of vision, periodic examination of the uninjured eye to detect possible sympathetic involvement of the uninjured eye at an early stage.
Yes, OWCP will pay for the services of an attendant where the need for such services has been medically documented. In the exercise of the discretion afforded by 5 U.S.C. 8111(a), the Director has determined that, except where attendant service payments were being made prior to January 4, 1999, direct payments to the claimant to cover such services will no longer be made. Rather, the cost of providing attendant services will be paid under section 8103 of the Act, and medical bills for these services will be considered under § 10.801, so long as the personal care services have been determined to be medically necessary and are provided by a home health aide, licensed practical nurse, or similarly trained individual, subject to requirements specified by OWCP. By paying for the services under section 8103, OWCP can better determine whether the services provided are necessary, and what type of provider is most qualified to provide adequate care to meet the needs of the injured employee. In addition, a system requiring the personal care provider to submit a bill to OWCP, where the amount billed will be subject to OWCP's fee schedule, will result in greater fiscal accountability.
(a) The employee is entitled to reimbursement of reasonable and necessary expenses, including transportation needed to obtain authorized medical services, appliances or supplies. To determine what is a reasonable distance to travel, OWCP will consider the availability of services, the employee's condition, and the means of transportation. Generally, a roundtrip distance of up to 100 miles is considered a reasonable distance to travel. Travel should be undertaken by the shortest route, and if practical, by public conveyance. If the medical evidence shows that the employee is unable to use these means of transportation, OWCP may authorize travel by taxi or special conveyance.
(b) For non-emergency medical treatment, if roundtrip travel of more than 100 miles is contemplated, or air transportation or overnight accommodations will be needed, the employee must submit a written request to OWCP for prior authorization with information describing the circumstances and necessity for such travel expenses. OWCP will approve the request if it determines that the travel expenses are reasonable and necessary, and are incident to obtaining authorized medical services, appliances or supplies. Requests for travel expenses that are often approved include those resulting from referrals to a specialist for further medical treatment, and those involving air transportation of an employee who lives in a remote geographical area with limited local medical services.
(c) If a claimant disagrees with the decision of OWCP that requested travel expenses are either not reasonable or necessary, or are not incident to obtaining authorized medical services or supplies, he or she may utilize the appeals process described in subpart G of this part.
(d) The standard form designated for medical travel refund requests is Form OWCP-957 and must be used to seek reimbursement under this section. This form can be obtained from OWCP.
(a) When the physician originally selected to provide treatment for a work-related injury refers the employee to a specialist for further medical care, the employee need not consult OWCP for approval. In all other instances, however, the employee must submit a written request to OWCP with his or her reasons for desiring a change of physician.
(b) OWCP will approve the request if it determines that the reasons submitted are sufficient. Requests that are often approved include those for transfer of care from a general practitioner to a physician who specializes in treating conditions like the work-related one, or the need for a new physician when an employee has moved. The employer may not authorize a change of physicians.
Directed Medical Examinations
OWCP sometimes needs a second opinion from a medical specialist. The employee must submit to examination by a qualified physician as often and at such times and places as OWCP considers reasonably necessary. The employee may have a qualified physician, paid by him or her, present at such examination. However, the employee is not entitled to have anyone else present at the examination unless there is rationalized medical evidence that establishes that someone else is needed in the room or OWCP decides that exceptional circumstances exist. Where an employee requires an accommodation, such as where a hearing-impaired employee needs an Start Printed Page 37918interpreter, the presence of an interpreter will be allowed. Also, OWCP may send a case file for second opinion review where actual examination is not needed, or where the employee is deceased.
(a) If one medical opinion holds more probative value, OWCP will base its determination of entitlement on that medical conclusion (see § 10.502). A difference in medical opinion sufficient to be considered a conflict occurs when two reports of virtually equal weight and rationale reach opposing conclusions (see James P. Roberts, 31 ECAB 1010 (1980)).
(b) If a conflict exists between the medical opinion of the employee's physician and the medical opinion of either a second opinion physician or an OWCP medical adviser or consultant, OWCP shall appoint a third physician to make an examination (see § 10.502). This is called a referee or impartial examination. OWCP will select a physician who is qualified in the appropriate specialty and who has had no prior connection with the case. The employee is not entitled to have anyone present at the examination unless OWCP decides that exceptional circumstances exist. For example, where a hearing-impaired employee needs an interpreter, the presence of an interpreter would be allowed. Also, a case file may be sent for referee or impartial medical review where there is no need for an actual examination, or where the employee is deceased.
OWCP will pay second opinion and referee medical specialists directly. OWCP will reimburse the employee all necessary and reasonable expenses incident to such an examination, including transportation costs and actual wages lost for the time needed to submit to an examination required by OWCP.
(a) If an employee refuses to submit to or in any way obstructs an examination required by OWCP, including testing such as functional capacity determinations conducted in connection with an OWCP-directed medical examination, his or her right to compensation under the FECA is suspended under 5 U.S.C. 8123(d) until such refusal or obstruction stops. The action of the employee's representative is considered to be the action of the employee for purposes of this section. The employee will forfeit compensation otherwise paid or payable under the FECA for the period of the refusal or obstruction, and any compensation already paid for that period will be declared an overpayment and will be subject to recovery pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8129.
(b) If the employee does not report for an OWCP-directed examination or in any way obstructs this examination, he or she may provide an explanation to OWCP within 14 days. If this explanation does not establish good cause for the employee's actions, entitlement to compensation will be suspended in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 8123(d). Should the employee subsequently agree to attend the examination or cease the obstruction (as expressed in writing or by telephone documented on Form CA-110), OWCP will restore any periodic benefits to which the employee is entitled when the employee actually reports for and cooperates with the examination. Payment is retroactive to the date the employee agreed to attend or cease obstruction of the examination.
The employer may have authority independent of the FECA to require the employee to undergo a medical examination to determine whether he or she meets the medical requirements of the position held or can perform the duties of that position. Nothing in the FECA or in this part affects such authority. However, no agency-required examination or related activity shall interfere with the employee's initial choice of physician or the provision of any authorized examination or treatment, including the issuance of Form CA-16.
In all cases reported to OWCP, a medical report from the attending physician is required. This report should include:
(a) Dates of examination and treatment;
(b) History given by the employee;
(c) Physical findings;
(d) Results of diagnostic tests;
(f) Course of treatment;
(g) A description of any other conditions found but not due to the claimed injury;
(h) The treatment given or recommended for the claimed injury;
(i) The physician's opinion, with medical reasons, as to causal relationship between the diagnosed condition(s) and the factors or conditions of the employment;
(j) The extent of disability affecting the employee's ability to work due to the injury;
(k) The prognosis for recovery; and
(l) All other material findings.
(a) Form CA-16 may be used for the initial medical report; Form CA-20 may be used for the initial report and for subsequent reports; and Form CA-20a may be used where continued compensation is claimed. Use of medical report forms is not required, however. The report may also be made in narrative form on the physician's letterhead stationery. The report should bear the physician's signature or signature stamp. OWCP may require an original signature on the report.
(b) The report shall be submitted directly to OWCP as soon as possible after medical examination or treatment is received, either by the employee or the physician. (See also § 10.210.) The employer may request a copy of the report from OWCP. The employer should use Form CA-17 to obtain interim reports concerning the duty status of an employee with a disabling injury.
In all cases of serious injury or disease, especially those requiring hospital treatment or prolonged care, OWCP will request detailed narrative reports from the attending physician at periodic intervals. The physician will be asked to describe continuing medical treatment for the condition accepted by OWCP, a prognosis, a description of work limitations, if any, and the physician's opinion as to the continuing causal relationship between the employee's condition and factors of his or her Federal employment.
To support a claim for a schedule award, a medical report must contain accurate measurements of the function of the organ or member, in accordance with the American Medical Association's Guides to the Evaluation Start Printed Page 37919of Permanent Impairment as described in § 10.404. These measurements may include: The actual degree of loss of active or passive motion or deformity; the amount of atrophy; the decrease, if any, in strength; the disturbance of sensation; pain due to nerve impairment; the diagnosis of the condition; and functional impairment ratings.
Usually, medical providers submit bills directly to OWCP or to a bill processing agent designated by OWCP. The rules for submitting and paying bills are stated in subpart I of this part. An employee claiming reimbursement of medical expenses should submit an itemized bill as described in § 10.802.
To be considered for payment, bills must be submitted by the end of the calendar year after the year when the expense was incurred, or by the end of the calendar year after the year when OWCP first accepted the claim as compensable, whichever is later.
(a) The OWCP fee schedule sets maximum limits on the amounts payable for many services (see § 10.805). The employee may be only partially reimbursed for medical expenses because the amount he or she paid to the medical provider for a service exceeds the maximum allowable charge set by the OWCP fee schedule.
(b) If this happens, OWCP shall advise the employee of the maximum allowable charge for the service in question and of his or her responsibility to ask the provider to refund to the employee, or credit to the employee's account, the amount he or she paid which exceeds the maximum allowable charge. The provider may request reconsideration of the fee determination as set forth in §§ 10.812 and 10.813.
(c) If the provider does not refund to the employee or credit to his or her account the amount of money paid in excess of the charge which OWCP allows, the employee should submit documentation of the attempt to obtain such refund or credit to OWCP. OWCP may make reasonable reimbursement to the employee after reviewing the facts and circumstances of the case.
Subpart E—Compensation and Related Benefits
Compensation for Disability and Impairment
(a) Permanent total disability is presumed to result from the loss of use of both hands, both arms, both feet, or both legs, or the loss of sight of both eyes. 5 U.S.C. 8105(b). However, the presumption of permanent total disability as a result of such loss may be rebutted by evidence to the contrary, such as evidence of continued ability to work and to earn wages despite the loss.
(b) Temporary total disability is defined as the inability to return to the position held at the time of injury or earn equivalent wages, or to perform other gainful employment, due to the work-related injury. Except as presumed under paragraph (a) of this section, an employee's disability status is always considered temporary pending return to work.
(a) Compensation is payable when an employee starts to lose pay if the injury causes permanent disability or if pay loss continues for more than 14 calendar days. Otherwise, compensation is payable on the fourth day after pay stops pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8117(a). Compensation may not be paid while an injured employee is in a continuation of pay status or receives pay for leave or, for Postal Service employees, for the first three days of temporary disability as described in 5 U.S.C. 8117(b) and § 10.200(c), except for medical or vocational rehabilitation benefits.
(b) Compensation for total disability is payable at the rate of 662/3 percent of the pay rate if the employee has no dependents, or 75 percent of the pay rate if the employee has at least one dependent. (“Dependents” are defined at 5 U.S.C. 8110(a).)
An injured employee who cannot return to the position held at the time of injury (or earn equivalent wages) due to the work-related injury, but who is not totally disabled for all gainful employment, is considered to be partially disabled.
(a) 5 U.S.C. 8115 outlines how compensation for partial disability is determined. If the employee has actual earnings which fairly and reasonably represent his or her wage-earning capacity, those earnings will form the basis for payment of compensation for partial disability. (See §§ 10.500 through 10.521 concerning return to work.) If the employee's actual earnings do not fairly and reasonably represent his or her wage-earning capacity, or if the employee has no actual earnings, OWCP uses the factors stated in 5 U.S.C. 8115 to select a position which represents his or her wage-earning capacity, which include the nature of the injury, the degree of physical impairment, the usual employment, the age of the employee, the employee's qualifications for other employment and the availability of suitable employment. However, OWCP will not secure employment for the employee in the position selected for establishing a wage-earning capacity.
(b) Compensation for partial disability is payable as a percentage of the difference between the employee's pay rate for compensation purposes and the employee's wage-earning capacity. The percentage is 662/3 percent of this difference if the employee has no dependents, or 75 percent of this difference if the employee has at least one dependent.
(c) The formula which OWCP uses to compute the compensation payable for partial disability employs the following terms: Pay rate for compensation purposes, which is defined in § 10.5(s) of this part; current pay rate, which means the salary or wages for the job held at the time of injury at the time of the determination; and earnings, which means the employee's actual earnings, or the salary or pay rate of the position selected by OWCP as representing the employee's wage-earning capacity.
(d) The employee's wage-earning capacity in terms of percentage is computed by dividing the employee's earnings by the current pay rate. The comparison of earnings and “current” pay rate for the job held at the time of injury need not be made as of the beginning of partial disability. OWCP may use any convenient date for making the comparison as long as both wage rates are in effect on the date used for comparison.
(e) The employee's wage-earning capacity in terms of dollars is computed by first multiplying the pay rate for compensation purposes by the percentage of wage-earning capacity. The resulting dollar amount is then subtracted from the pay rate for compensation purposes to obtain the employee's loss of wage-earning capacity.
Compensation is provided for specified periods of time for the permanent loss or loss of use of certain members, organs and functions of the body. Such loss or loss of use is known as permanent impairment. Compensation for proportionate periods of time is payable for partial loss or loss of use of each member, organ or function. 5 U.S.C. 8107(b)(19). OWCP evaluates the degree of impairment to schedule members, organs and functions as defined in 5 U.S.C. 8107 according to the standards set forth in the specified (by OWCP) edition of the American Medical Association's Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.
(a) 5 U.S.C. 8107(c) provides compensation for loss to the following list of schedule members:
|First Finger lost||46|
|Toe other than great toe||16|
|Hearing, one ear||52|
|Hearing, both ears||200|
(b) Pursuant to the authority provided by 5 U.S.C. 8107(c)(22), the Secretary has added the following organs to the compensation schedule for injuries that were sustained on or after September 7, 1974, except that a schedule award for the skin may be paid for injuries on or after September 11, 2001:
|Uterus/cervix and vulva/vagina||205|
(c) Compensation for schedule awards is payable at 662/3 percent of the employee's pay, or 75 percent of the pay when the employee has at least one dependent.
(d) The period of compensation payable under 5 U.S.C. 8107(c) shall be reduced by the period of compensation paid or payable under the schedule for an earlier injury if:
(1) Compensation in both cases is for impairment of the same member or function or different parts of the same member or function, or for disfigurement; and
(2) OWCP finds that compensation payable for the later impairment in whole or in part would duplicate the compensation payable for the pre-existing impairment.
(e) Compensation not to exceed $3,500 may be paid for serious disfigurement of the face, head or neck which is likely to handicap a person in securing or maintaining employment. Under 5 U.S.C. 8107(21), a disfigurement award may be paid concurrently with schedule awards.
(a) Dependents include a wife or husband; an unmarried child under 18 years of age; an unmarried child over 18 who is incapable of self-support; a student, until he or she reaches 23 years of age or completes four years of school beyond the high school level; or a wholly dependent parent.
(b) Augmented compensation payable for an unmarried child, which would otherwise terminate when the child reached the age of 18, may be continued while the child is a student as defined in 5 U.S.C. 8101(17).
(a) Compensation for total or partial disability may not exceed 75 percent of the basic monthly pay of the highest step of grade 15 of the General Schedule. (Basic monthly pay does not include locality adjustments.) However, this limit does not apply to disability sustained in the performance of duty which was due to an assault which occurred during an attempted assassination of a Federal official described under 18 U.S.C. 351(a) or 1751(a).
(b) Compensation for total disability may not be less than 75 percent of the basic monthly pay of the first step of grade 2 of the General Schedule or actual pay, whichever is less. (Basic monthly pay does not include locality adjustments.)
Compensation for Death
(a) Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8133, benefits may be paid to eligible dependents of an employee whose death results from an injury sustained in the performance of duty. This benefit is separate and distinct from a death gratuity benefit under 5 U.S.C. 8102a and subpart J of this part.
(b) If there is no child entitled to compensation, the employee's surviving spouse will receive compensation equal to 50 percent of the employee's monthly pay until death or remarriage before reaching age 55. Upon remarriage, the surviving spouse will be paid a lump sum equal to 24 times the monthly compensation payment (excluding compensation payable on account of another individual) to which the surviving spouse was entitled immediately before the remarriage. If remarriage occurs at age 55 or older, the lump-sum payment will not be paid and compensation will continue until death.
(c) If there is a child entitled to compensation, the compensation for the surviving spouse will equal 45 percent of the employee's monthly pay plus 15 percent for each child, but the total percentage may not exceed 75 percent.
(d) If there is a child entitled to compensation and no surviving spouse, compensation for one child will equal 40 percent of the employee's monthly pay. Fifteen percent will be awarded for each additional child, not to exceed 75 percent, the total amount to be shared equally among all children.
(e) If there is no child or surviving spouse entitled to compensation, the parents will receive compensation equal to 25 percent of the employee's monthly pay if one parent was wholly dependent on the employee at the time of death and the other was not dependent to any extent, or 20 percent each if both were wholly dependent on the employee, or a proportionate amount in the discretion of the Director if one or both were partially dependent on the employee. If there is a child or surviving spouse entitled to compensation, the parents will receive so much of the compensation described in the preceding sentence as, when added to the total percentages payable to the surviving spouse and children, will not exceed a total of 75 percent of the employee's monthly pay.
(f) If there is no child, surviving spouse or dependent parent entitled to compensation, the brothers, sisters, grandparents and grandchildren will receive compensation equal to 20 percent of the employee's monthly pay to such dependent if one was wholly dependent on the employee at the time of death; or 30 percent if more than one was wholly dependent, divided among such dependents equally; or 10 percent if no one was wholly dependent but one or more was partly dependent, divided Start Printed Page 37921among such dependents equally. If there is a child, surviving spouse or dependent parent entitled to compensation, the brothers, sisters, grandparents and grandchildren will receive so much of the compensation described in the preceding sentence as, when added to the total percentages payable to the children, surviving spouse and dependent parents, will not exceed a total of 75 percent of the employee's monthly pay.
(g) A child, brother, sister or grandchild may be entitled to receive death benefits until death, marriage, or reaching age 18. Regarding entitlement after reaching age 18, refer to § 10.417.
(a) Compensation for death may not exceed the employee's pay or 75 percent of the basic monthly pay of the highest step of grade 15 of the General Schedule, except that compensation may exceed the employee's basic monthly pay if such excess is created by authorized cost-of-living increases. (Basic monthly pay does not include locality adjustments.) However, the maximum limit does not apply when the death occurred during an assassination of a Federal official described under 18 U.S.C. 351(a) or 18 U.S.C. 1751(a).
(b) Compensation for death is computed on a minimum pay rate equal to the basic monthly pay of an employee at the first step of grade 2 of the General Schedule. (Basic monthly pay does not include locality adjustments.)
In a case accepted for death benefits, OWCP will pay up to $800 for funeral and burial expenses. When an employee's home is within the United States and the employee dies outside the United States, or away from home or the official duty station, an additional amount may be paid for transporting the remains to the employee's home as set forth in 5 U.S.C. 8134. An additional amount of $200 is paid to the personal representative of the decedent for reimbursement of the costs of terminating the decedent's status as an employee of the United States in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 8133.
For a schedule award to be paid following the death of an employee, the employee must have filed a valid claim specifically for a schedule award prior to death; in addition, the employee must have died from a cause other than the injury before the end of the period specified in the schedule. The balance of the schedule award may be paid to an employee's survivors pursuant to the proportions and order of precedence described in 5 U.S.C. 8109.
If a beneficiary is receiving compensation benefits on account of an employee's death, OWCP will ask him or her to complete a report once each year on Form CA-12. The report requires the beneficiary to note changes in marital status and dependents. If the beneficiary fails to submit the form (or an equivalent written statement) within 30 days of the date of request, OWCP shall suspend compensation until the requested form or equivalent written statement is received. The suspension will include compensation payable for or on behalf of another person (for example, compensation payable to a widow on behalf of a child). When the form or statement is received, compensation will be reinstated at the appropriate rate retroactive to the date of suspension, provided the beneficiary is entitled to such compensation.
The circumstances under which compensation on account of death shall be terminated are described in 5 U.S.C. 8133(b). A beneficiary in a claim for death benefits should promptly notify OWCP of any event which would affect his or her entitlement to continued compensation. The terms “marriage” and “remarriage” include common-law marriage as recognized and defined by State law in the State where the beneficiary resides. If a beneficiary, or someone acting on his or her behalf, receives a check or electronic payment which includes payment of compensation for any period after the date when entitlement ended, he or she must promptly return such funds to OWCP.
If compensation to a beneficiary is terminated, the amount of compensation payable to one or more of the remaining beneficiaries may be reapportioned. Similarly, the birth of a posthumous child may result in a reapportionment of the amount of compensation payable to other beneficiaries. The parent, or someone acting on the child's behalf, shall promptly notify OWCP of the birth and submit a copy of the birth certificate.
(a) Compensation payable on behalf of a child, brother, sister, or grandchild, which would otherwise end when the person reaches 18 years of age, shall be continued if and for so long as he or she is not married and is either a student as defined in 5 U.S.C. 8101(17), or physically or mentally incapable of self-support.
(b) At least once each year, OWCP will ask a beneficiary receiving compensation based on the student status of a dependent to provide proof of continuing entitlement to such compensation, including certification of school enrollment. The beneficiary is required to report any changes to student status in the interim.
(c) Likewise, at least once each year unless otherwise provided in paragraph (d) of this section, OWCP will ask a beneficiary or legal guardian receiving compensation based on a dependent's physical or mental inability to support himself or herself to submit a medical report verifying that the dependent's medical condition persists and that it continues to preclude self-support. If there is a change in that condition, the beneficiary or legal guardian is required to immediately report that change to OWCP.
(d) In the case of a dependent incapable of self support due to that dependent's physical or mental disability where the status of that dependent is unlikely to change, a beneficiary or legal guardian may establish the permanency of that condition by submitting a well rationalized medical report which describes that condition and the ongoing prognosis of that condition. If the permanency of that condition is established by such a report, OWCP will not seek further information regarding that condition; however, if there is a change in that condition, the beneficiary or legal guardian is required to immediately report that change to OWCP.
Adjustments to Compensation
(a) In cases of disability, a beneficiary is eligible for cost-of-living adjustments under 5 U.S.C. 8146a where injury-related disability began more than one year prior to the date the cost-of-living adjustment took effect. The employee's use of continuation of pay as provided by 5 U.S.C. 8118, or of sick or annual leave, during any part of the period of disability does not affect the computation of the one-year period.Start Printed Page 37922
(b) Where an injury does not result in disability but compensation is payable for permanent impairment of a covered member, organ or function of the body, a beneficiary is eligible for cost-of-living adjustments under 5 U.S.C. 8146a where the award for such impairment began more than one year prior to the date the cost-of-living adjustment took effect.
(c) In cases of recurrence of disability, where the pay rate for compensation purposes is the pay rate at the time disability recurs, a beneficiary is eligible for cost-of-living adjustments under 5 U.S.C. 8146a where the effective date of that pay rate began more than one year prior to the date the cost-of-living adjustment took effect.
(d) In cases of death, entitlement to cost-of-living adjustments under 5 U.S.C. 8146a begins with the first such adjustment occurring more than one year after the date of death. However, if the death was preceded by a period of injury-related disability, compensation payable to the survivors will be increased by the same percentages as the cost-of-living adjustments paid or payable to the deceased employee for the period of disability, as well as by subsequent cost-of-living adjustments to which the survivors would otherwise be entitled.
(a) 5 U.S.C. 8116(a) provides that a beneficiary may not receive wage-loss compensation concurrently with a Federal retirement or survivor annuity. The beneficiary must elect the benefit that he or she wishes to receive, and the election, once made, is revocable.
(b) An employee may receive compensation concurrently with military retired pay, retirement pay, retainer pay or equivalent pay for service in the Armed Forces or other uniformed services.
(c) An employee may not receive compensation for total disability concurrently with severance pay or separation pay. However, an employee may concurrently receive compensation for partial disability or permanent impairment to a schedule member, organ or function with severance pay or separation pay.
(d) Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8116(d), a beneficiary may receive compensation under the FECA for either the death or disability of an employee concurrently with benefits under title II of the Social Security Act on account of the age or death of such employee. However, this provision of the FECA also requires OWCP to reduce the amount of any such compensation by the amount of any Social Security Act benefits that are attributable to the Federal service of the employee.
(e) To determine the employee's entitlement to compensation, OWCP may require an employee to submit an affidavit or statement as to the receipt of any Federally funded or Federally assisted benefits. If an employee fails to submit such affidavit or statement within 30 days of the date of the request, his or her right to compensation shall be suspended until such time as the requested affidavit or statement is received. At that time compensation will be reinstated retroactive to the date of suspension provided the employee is entitled to such compensation.
(a) In exercise of the discretion afforded under 5 U.S.C. 8135(a), OWCP has determined that lump-sum payments will not be made to persons entitled to wage-loss benefits (that is, those payable under 5 U.S.C. 8105 and 8106). Therefore, when OWCP receives requests for lump-sum payments for wage-loss benefits, OWCP will not exercise further discretion in the matter. This determination is based on several factors, including:
(1) The purpose of the FECA, which is to replace lost wages;
(2) The prudence of providing wage-loss benefits on a regular, recurring basis; and
(3) The high cost of the long-term borrowing that is needed to pay out large lump sums.
(b) However, a lump-sum payment may be made to an employee entitled to a schedule award under 5 U.S.C. 8107 where OWCP determines that such a payment is in the employee's best interest. Lump-sum payments of schedule awards generally will be considered in the employee's best interest only where the employee does not rely upon compensation payments as a substitute for lost wages (that is, the employee is working or is receiving annuity payments). An employee possesses no absolute right to a lump-sum payment of benefits payable under 5 U.S.C. 8107.
(c) Lump-sum payments to surviving spouses are addressed in 5 U.S.C. 8135(b); payments to beneficiaries under 5 U.S.C. 8137 payable as a lump sum pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8135 are addressed in part 25 of this title.
(a) As a general rule, compensation and claims for compensation are exempt from the claims of private creditors. Further, any attempt by a FECA beneficiary to assign his or her claim is null and void. However, pursuant to provisions of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 659, and regulations issued by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) at 5 CFR part 581, FECA benefits, including survivor's benefits, may be garnished to collect overdue alimony and child support payments.
(b) Garnishment for child support and alimony may be requested by providing a copy of the State agency or court order to the district office handling the FECA claim.
A beneficiary may be incapable of managing or directing the management of his or her benefits because of a mental or physical disability, or because of legal incompetence, or because he or she is under 18 years of age. In this situation, absent the appointment of a guardian or other party to manage the financial affairs of the claimant by a court or administrative body authorized to do so, OWCP in its sole discretion may approve a person to serve as the representative payee for funds due the beneficiary. Where a guardian or other party has been appointed by a court or administrative body authorized to do so to manage the financial affairs of the claimant, OWCP will recognize that individual as the representative payee.
The employee may claim compensation for periods of annual and sick leave which are restorable in accordance with the rules of the employing agency. Forms CA-7a and CA-7b are used for this purpose. Leave donated to an employee by an employing agency leave bank is not restorable leave.
(a) In addition to providing narrative descriptions to recipients of benefits paid or payable, OWCP includes on each periodic check a clear indication of the period for which payment is being made. A form is sent to the recipient with each supplemental check which states the date and amount of the payment and the period for which payment is being made. For payments sent by electronic funds transfer (EFT), a notification of the date and amount of payment appears on the statement from the recipient's financial institution.Start Printed Page 37923
(b) By these means, OWCP puts the recipient on notice that a payment was made and the amount of the payment. If the amount received differs from the amount indicated on the written notice or bank statement, the recipient is responsible for notifying OWCP of the difference. Absent affirmative evidence to the contrary, the beneficiary will be presumed to have received the notice of payment, whether mailed or transmitted electronically. For EFT payments, OWCP is entitled to presume receipt and acceptance of that payment once a recipient has had an opportunity to receive a statement from their financial institution.
Before seeking to recover an overpayment or adjust benefits, OWCP will advise the beneficiary in writing that:
(a) The overpayment exists, and the amount of overpayment;
(b) A preliminary finding shows either that the individual was or was not at fault in the creation of the overpayment;
(c) He or she has the right to inspect and copy Government records relating to the overpayment; and
(d) He or she has the right to present evidence which challenges the fact or amount of the overpayment, and/or challenges the preliminary finding that he or she was at fault in the creation of the overpayment. He or she may also request that recovery of the overpayment be waived.
The individual may present this evidence to OWCP in writing or at a pre-recoupment hearing. The evidence must be presented or the hearing requested within 30 days of the date of the written notice of overpayment. Failure to request the hearing within this 30-day time period shall constitute a waiver of that right.
(a) OWCP may consider waiving an overpayment only if the individual to whom it was made was not at fault in accepting or creating the overpayment. Each recipient of compensation benefits is responsible for taking all reasonable measures to ensure that payments he or she receives from OWCP are proper. The recipient must show good faith and exercise a high degree of care in regard to receipt of their benefits. Such care includes reporting events which may affect entitlement to or the amount of benefits, including reviewing their accounts and related statements (including electronic statements and records from their financial institutions involving EFT payments). A recipient who has done any of the following will be found to be at fault with respect to creating an overpayment:
(1) Made an incorrect statement as to a material fact which he or she knew or should have known to be incorrect; or
(2) Failed to provide information which he or she knew or should have known to be material; or
(3) Accepted a payment which the recipient knew or should have known to be incorrect. (This provision applies only to the overpaid individual.)
(b) Whether or not OWCP determines that an individual was at fault with respect to the creation of an overpayment depends on the circumstances surrounding the overpayment. The degree of care expected may vary with the complexity of those circumstances and the individual's capacity to realize that he or she is being overpaid.
If OWCP finds that the recipient of an overpayment was not at fault, repayment will still be required unless:
(a) Adjustment or recovery of the overpayment would defeat the purpose of the FECA (see § 10.436), or
(b) Adjustment or recovery of the overpayment would be against equity and good conscience (see § 10.437).
(a) The fact that OWCP may have erred in making the overpayment, or that the overpayment may have resulted from an error by another Government agency, does not by itself relieve the individual who received the overpayment from liability for repayment if the individual also was at fault in accepting the overpayment.
(b) However, OWCP may find that the individual was not at fault if failure to report an event affecting compensation benefits, or acceptance of an incorrect payment, occurred because:
(1) The individual relied on misinformation given in writing by OWCP (or by another Government agency which he or she had reason to believe was connected with the administration of benefits) as to the interpretation of a pertinent provision of the FECA or its regulations; or
(2) OWCP erred in calculating cost-of-living increases, schedule award length and/or percentage of impairment, or loss of wage-earning capacity.
Recovery of an overpayment will defeat the purpose of the FECA if such recovery would cause hardship to a currently or formerly entitled beneficiary because:
(a) The beneficiary from whom OWCP seeks recovery needs substantially all of his or her current income (including compensation benefits) to meet current ordinary and necessary living expenses; and
(b) The beneficiary's assets do not exceed a specified amount as determined by OWCP from data furnished by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A higher amount is specified for a beneficiary with one or more dependents.
(a) Recovery of an overpayment is considered to be against equity and good conscience when any individual who received an overpayment would experience severe financial hardship in attempting to repay the debt.
(b) Recovery of an overpayment is also considered to be against equity and good conscience when any individual, in reliance on such payments or on notice that such payments would be made, gives up a valuable right or changes his or her position for the worse. In making such a decision, OWCP does not consider the individual's current ability to repay the overpayment.
(1) To establish that a valuable right has been relinquished, it must be shown that the right was in fact valuable, that it cannot be regained, and that the action was based chiefly or solely in reliance on the payments or on the notice of payment. Donations to charitable causes or gratuitous transfers of funds to other individuals are not considered relinquishments of valuable rights.
(2) To establish that an individual's position has changed for the worse, it must be shown that the decision made would not otherwise have been made but for the receipt of benefits, and that this decision resulted in a loss.
(a) The individual who received the overpayment is responsible for Start Printed Page 37924providing information about income, expenses and assets as specified by OWCP. This information is needed to determine whether or not recovery of an overpayment would defeat the purpose of the FECA, or be against equity and good conscience. This information will also be used to determine the repayment schedule, if necessary.
(b) Failure to submit the requested information within 30 days of the request shall result in denial of waiver, and no further request for waiver shall be considered until the requested information is furnished.
At a pre-recoupment hearing, the OWCP representative will consider all issues in the claim on which a formal decision has been issued. Such a hearing will thus fulfill OWCP's obligation to provide pre-recoupment rights and a hearing under 5 U.S.C. 8124(b). Pre-recoupment hearings shall be conducted in exactly the same manner as provided in § 10.615 through § 10.622.
(a) OWCP will send a copy of the final decision to the individual from whom recovery is sought; his or her representative, if any; and the employing agency.
(b) The only review of a final decision concerning an overpayment is to the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board. The provisions of 5 U.S.C. 8124(b) (concerning hearings) and 5 U.S.C. 8128(a) (concerning reconsiderations) do not apply to such a decision. The pendency of an appeal with ECAB has no effect on the finality of the order being appealed; in the event ECAB reverses the final overpayment decision, any monies collected will be restored to the beneficiary.
(a) When an overpayment has been made to an individual who is entitled to further payments, the individual shall refund to OWCP the amount of the overpayment as soon as the error is discovered or his or her attention is called to same. If no refund is made, OWCP shall decrease later payments of compensation, taking into account the probable extent of future payments, the rate of compensation, the financial circumstances of the individual, and any other relevant factors, so as to minimize any hardship. Should the individual die before collection has been completed, collection shall be made by decreasing later payments, if any, payable under the FECA with respect to the individual's death. If no further benefits are payable with respect to the individual's death, OWCP may also file a claim with the estate of the individual or seek repayment of the overpayment through other means including referral of the debt to the Treasury Department.
(b) When an overpayment has been made to an individual who is not entitled to further payments, the individual shall refund to OWCP the amount of the overpayment as soon as the error is discovered or his or her attention is called to same. The overpayment is subject to the provisions of the Federal Claims Collection Act of 1966 (as amended) and may be reported to the Internal Revenue Service as income. If the individual fails to make such refund, OWCP may recover the same through any available means, including offset of salary, annuity benefits, or other Federal payments, including tax refunds as authorized by the Tax Refund Offset Program, or referral of the debt to a collection agency or to the Department of Justice.
Subpart F—Continuing Benefits
Rules and Evidence
(a) Benefits are available only while the effects of a work-related condition continue. Compensation for wage loss due to disability is available only for any periods during which an employee's work-related medical condition prevents him or her from earning the wages earned before the work-related injury. For example, an employee is not entitled to compensation for any wage-loss claimed on a CA-7 to the extent that evidence contemporaneous with the period claimed on a CA-7 establishes that an employee had medical work restrictions in place; that light duty within those work restrictions was available; and that the employee was previously notified in writing that such duty was available. Similarly, an employee receiving continuing periodic payments for disability was not prevented from earning the wages earned before the work-related injury if the evidence establishes that the employing agency had offered, in accordance with OWCP procedures, a temporary light duty assignment within the employee's work restrictions. (The penalty provision of 5 U.S.C. 8106(c)(2) will not be imposed on such assignments under this paragraph.)
(b) Each disabled employee is obligated to perform such work as he or she can. OWCP's goal is to return each disabled employee to work as soon as he or she is medically able. In determining what work qualifies under 5 U.S.C. 8115 for determining the wage-earning capacity for a particular disabled employee, OWCP considers all relevant factors, including the employee's current physical limitations, whether the work is available within the employee's demonstrated commuting area and the employee's qualifications to perform such work.
(c) A disabled employee who refuses to seek or accept suitable employment within the meaning of 5 U.S.C. 8106(c)(2) is not entitled to compensation.
(d) Payment of medical benefits is available for all treatment necessary due to a work-related medical condition.
(a) The employee is responsible for providing sufficient medical evidence to justify payment of any compensation sought.
(1) To support payment of continuing compensation where an employee has been found entitled to periodic benefits, narrative medical evidence must be submitted whenever OWCP requests it but ordinarily not less than once a year and with any filing of a form CA-1032. It must contain a physician's rationalized opinion as to whether the specific period of alleged disability is causally related to the employee's accepted injury or illness.
(2) For those employees with more serious conditions not likely to improve and for employees over the age of 65, OWCP may require less frequent documentation, but ordinarily not less than once every three years.
(3) The physician's opinion must be based on the facts of the case and the complete medical background of the employee, must be one of reasonable medical certainty and must include objective findings in support of its conclusions. Subjective complaints of pain are not sufficient, in and of themselves, to support payment of continuing compensation. Likewise, medical limitations based solely on the fear of a possible future injury are also not sufficient to support payment of continuing compensation. See § 10.330 for a fuller discussion of medical evidence.
(b) OWCP may require any kind of non-invasive testing to determine the employee's functional capacity. Failure to undergo such testing will result in a Start Printed Page 37925suspension of benefits. In addition, OWCP may direct the employee to undergo a second opinion or referee examination in any case it deems appropriate (see §§ 10.320 and 10.321).
In considering the medical and factual evidence, OWCP will weigh the probative value of the attending physician's report, any second opinion physician's report, any other medical reports, or any other evidence in the file. If OWCP determines that the medical evidence supporting one conclusion is more consistent, logical, and well-reasoned than evidence supporting a contrary conclusion, OWCP will use the conclusion that is supported by the weight of the medical evidence as the basis for awarding or denying further benefits. If medical reports that are equally well-reasoned support inconsistent determinations of an issue under consideration, OWCP will direct the employee to undergo a third, impartial referee examination to resolve the issue, which will be given special weight in determining the issue.
Once OWCP has advised the employee that it has accepted a claim and has either approved continuation of pay or paid medical benefits or compensation, benefits will not be terminated or reduced unless the weight of the evidence establishes that:
(a) The disability for which compensation was paid has ceased;
(b) The disabling condition is no longer causally related to the employment;
(c) The employee is only partially disabled;
(d) The employee has returned to work;
(e) The beneficiary was convicted of fraud in connection with a claim under the FECA, or the beneficiary was incarcerated based on any felony conviction; or
(f) OWCP's initial decision was in error.
Return to Work—Employer's Responsibilities
Upon authorizing medical care, the employer should advise the employee in writing as soon as possible of his or her obligation to return to work under § 10.210 and as defined in this subpart. The term “return to work” as used in this subpart is not limited to returning to work at the employee's normal worksite or usual position, but may include returning to work at other locations and in other positions. In general, the employer should make all reasonable efforts to place the employee in his or her former or an equivalent position, in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 8151(b)(2), if the employee has fully recovered after one year. The Office of Personnel Management (not OWCP) administers this provision.
(a) Where the employer has specific alternative positions available for partially disabled employees, the employer should advise the employee in writing of the specific duties and physical requirements of those positions.
(b) Where the employer has no specific alternative positions available for an employee who can perform restricted or limited duties, the employer should advise the employee of any accommodations the agency can make to accommodate the employee's limitations due to the injury.
The employer may monitor the employee's medical progress and duty status by obtaining periodic medical reports. Form CA-17 is usually adequate for this purpose. To aid in returning an injured employee to suitable employment, the employer may also contact the employee's physician in writing concerning the work limitations imposed by the effects of the injury and possible job assignments. (However, the employer shall not contact the physician by telephone or through personal visit.) When such contact is made, the employer shall send a copy of any such correspondence to OWCP and the employee, as well as a copy of the physician's response when received. The employer may also contact the employee at reasonable intervals to request periodic medical reports addressing his or her ability to return to work.
Where the attending physician or OWCP notifies the employer in writing that the employee is partially disabled (that is, the employee can perform some work but not return to the position held at date of injury), the employer should act as follows:
(a) If the employee can perform in a specific alternative position available in the agency, and the employer has advised the employee in writing of the specific duties and physical requirements, the employer shall notify the employee in writing immediately of the date of availability.
(b) If the employee can perform restricted or limited duties, the employer should determine whether such duties are available or whether an existing job can be modified. If so, the employer shall advise the employee in writing of the duties, their physical requirements and availability.
(c) The employer must make any job offer in writing. However, the employer may make a job offer verbally as long as it provides the job offer to the employee in writing within two business days of the verbal job offer.
(d) The offer must include a description of the duties of the position, the physical requirements of those duties, and the date by which the employee is either to return to work or notify the employer of his or her decision to accept or refuse the job offer. The employer must send a complete copy of any job offer to OWCP when it is sent to the employee.
If possible, the employer should offer suitable reemployment in the location where the employee currently resides. If this is not practical, the employer may offer suitable reemployment at the employee's former duty station or other location. Where the distance between the location of the offered job and the location where the employee currently resides is at least 50 miles, OWCP may pay such relocation expenses as are considered reasonable and necessary if the employee has been terminated from the agency's employment rolls and would incur relocation expenses by accepting the offered reemployment. OWCP may also pay such relocation expenses when the new employer is other than a Federal employer. OWCP will notify the employee that relocation expenses are payable if it makes a finding that the job is suitable. To determine whether a relocation expense is reasonable and necessary, OWCP shall use as a guide the Federal travel regulations for permanent changes of duty station.
In general, an employee will not be considered to have experienced a compensable recurrence of disability as defined in § 10.5(x) merely because his or her employer has eliminated the employee's light-duty position in a reduction-in-force or some other form of Start Printed Page 37926downsizing. When this occurs, OWCP will determine the employee's wage-earning capacity based on his or her actual earnings in such light-duty position if this determination is appropriate on the basis that such earnings fairly and reasonably represent the employee's wage-earning capacity and such a determination has not already been made and the employing agency has stated, in writing, that no other employment is available.
A light-duty position that fairly and reasonably represents an employee's ability to earn wages may form the basis of a loss of wage-earning capacity determination if that light duty position is a classified position to which the injured employee has been formally reassigned. The position must conform to the established physical limitations of the injured employee; the employer must have a written position description outlining the duties and physical requirements; and the position must correlate to the type of appointment held by the injured employee at the time of injury. If these circumstances are present, a determination may be made that the position constitutes “regular” Federal employment. In the absence of a “light-duty position” as described in this paragraph, OWCP will assume that the employee was instead engaged in non-competitive, makeshift or odd lot employment which does not represent the employee's wage-earning capacity, i.e., work of the type provided to injured employees who cannot otherwise be employed by the Federal Government or in any well-known branch of the general labor market.
If OWCP issues a formal loss of wage-earning capacity determination, including a finding of no loss of wage-earning capacity, that determination and rate of compensation, if applicable, remains in place until that determination is modified by OWCP. Modification of such a determination is only warranted where the party seeking the modification establishes either that there is a material change in the nature and extent of the injury-related condition, the employee has been retrained or otherwise vocationally rehabilitated, or the original determination was erroneous. However, OWCP is not precluded from adjudicating a limited period of disability following the issuance of a loss of wage-earning capacity decision, such as where an employee has a demonstrated need for surgery.
Return to Work—Employee's Responsibilities
(a) If an employee can resume regular Federal employment, he or she must do so. No further compensation for wage loss is payable once the employee has recovered from the work-related injury to the extent that he or she can perform the duties of the position held at the time of injury, or earn equivalent wages.
(b) If an employee cannot return to the job held at the time of injury due to partial disability from the effects of the work-related injury, but has recovered enough to perform some type of work, he or she must seek work. In the alternative, the employee must accept suitable work offered to him or her. This work may be with the original employer or through job placement efforts made by or on behalf of OWCP.
(c) If the employer has advised an employee in writing that specific alternative positions exist within the agency, the employee shall provide the description and physical requirements of such alternate positions to the attending physician and ask whether and when he or she will be able to perform such duties.
(d) If the employer has advised an employee that it is willing to accommodate his or her work limitations, the employee shall so advise the attending physician and ask him or her to specify the limitations imposed by the injury. The employee is responsible for advising the employer immediately of these limitations.
(e) From time to time, OWCP may require the employee to report his or her efforts to obtain suitable employment, whether with the Federal Government, State and local Governments, or in the private sector.
OWCP shall advise the employee that it has found the offered work to be suitable and afford the employee 30 days to accept the job or present any reasons to counter OWCP's finding of suitability. If the employee presents such reasons, and OWCP determines that the reasons are unacceptable, it will notify the employee of that determination and that he or she has 15 days in which to accept the offered work without penalty. At that point in time, OWCP's notification need not state the reasons for finding that the employee's reasons are not acceptable.
(a) 5 U.S.C. 8106(c) provides that a partially disabled employee who refuses to seek suitable work, or refuses to or neglects to work after suitable work is offered to or arranged for him or her, is not entitled to compensation. An employee who refuses or neglects to work after suitable work has been offered or secured for him or her has the burden to show that this refusal or failure to work was reasonable or justified.
(b) After providing the two notices described in § 10.516, OWCP will terminate the employee's entitlement to further compensation under 5 U.S.C. 8105, 8106, and 8107 on all claims where the injury occurred prior to the termination decision, as provided by 5 U.S.C. 8106(c)(2). However, the employee remains entitled to medical benefits as provided by 5 U.S.C. 8103.
OWCP may, in its discretion, provide vocational rehabilitation services as authorized by 5 U.S.C. 8104. Vocational rehabilitation services may include vocational evaluation, testing, training, and placement services with either the original employer or a new employer, when the injured employee cannot return to the job held at the time of injury. These services also include functional capacity evaluations, which help to tailor individual rehabilitation programs to employees' physical reconditioning and behavioral modification needs, and help employees to meet the demands of current or potential jobs.
Under 5 U.S.C. 8104(a), OWCP may direct a permanently disabled employee to undergo vocational rehabilitation. To ensure that vocational rehabilitation services are available to all who might be entitled to benefit from them, an injured employee who has a loss of wage-earning capacity shall be presumed to be “permanently disabled,” for purposes of this section only, unless and until the employee proves that the disability is not permanent. If an employee without good cause fails or refuses to apply for, undergo, participate in, or continue to participate in a vocational rehabilitation effort when so directed, OWCP will act as follows:
(a) Where a suitable job has been identified, OWCP will reduce the employee's future monetary Start Printed Page 37927compensation based on the amount which would likely have been his or her wage-earning capacity had he or she undergone vocational rehabilitation. OWCP will determine this amount in accordance with the job identified through the vocational rehabilitation planning process, which includes meetings with the OWCP nurse and the employer. The reduction will remain in effect until such time as the employee acts in good faith to comply with the direction of OWCP.
(b) Where a suitable job has not been identified, because the failure or refusal occurred in the early but necessary stages of a vocational rehabilitation effort (that is, interviews, testing, counseling, functional capacity evaluations, and work evaluations), OWCP cannot determine what would have been the employee's wage-earning capacity.
(c) Under the circumstances identified in paragraph (b) of this section, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, OWCP will assume that the vocational rehabilitation effort would have resulted in a return to work with no loss of wage-earning capacity, and OWCP will reduce the employee's monetary compensation accordingly (that is, to zero). This reduction will remain in effect until such time as the employee acts in good faith to comply with the direction of OWCP.
After completion of a vocational rehabilitation program, OWCP may adjust compensation to reflect the injured worker's wage-earning capacity. Actual earnings will be used if they fairly and reasonably reflect the earning capacity. The position determined to be the goal of a training plan is assumed to represent the employee's earning capacity if it is suitable and performed in sufficient numbers so as to be reasonably available, whether or not the employee is placed in such a position.
Where an employee is undergoing vocational rehabilitation, or where OWCP is attempting to otherwise place that employee in a suitable job, and that employee elects to receive retirement benefits from the Office of Personnel Management instead of benefits under the FECA, the OWCP may proceed with a loss of wage-earning capacity determination which may reduce FECA entitlement as long as the determination is based on the evidence of record at the time of such election.
Reports of Earnings From Employment and Self-Employment
(a) An employee who is receiving compensation for partial or total disability must advise OWCP immediately of any return to work, either part-time or full-time. An employee must report all outside employment, including any concurrent dissimilar employment held at the time of injury, even if the injury did not result in any lost time in that position. In addition, an employee who is receiving compensation for partial or total disability will periodically be required to submit a report of earnings from employment or self-employment, either part-time or full-time. (See § 10.5(g) for a definition of “earnings.”)
(b) The employee must report even those earnings which do not seem likely to affect his or her level of benefits. Many kinds of income, though not all, will result in reduction of compensation benefits. While earning income will not necessarily result in a reduction of compensation, failure to report income may result in forfeiture of all benefits paid during the reporting period.
An employee who is receiving compensation for partial or total disability is periodically required to report volunteer activity or any other kind of activity which shows that the employee is no longer totally disabled for work. The fact that the employee did not receive any salary for this work is not a basis for failing to report this activity; instead the employee must report the cost if any to have someone else do the work or activity.
To make proper determinations of an employee's entitlement to benefits, OWCP may verify the earnings reported by the employee through a variety of means, including but not limited to computer matches with the Office of Personnel Management and inquiries to the Social Security Administration. Also, OWCP may perform computer matches with records of State agencies, including but not limited to workers' compensation administrations, to determine whether private employers are paying workers' compensation insurance premiums for recipients of benefits under the FECA.
OWCP periodically requires each employee who is receiving compensation benefits to complete an affidavit as to any work, or activity indicating an ability to work, which the employee has performed for the prior 15 months. If an employee who is required to file such a report fails to do so within 30 days of the date of the request, his or her right to compensation for wage loss under 5 U.S.C. 8105 or 8106 is suspended until OWCP receives the requested report. At that time, OWCP will reinstate compensation retroactive to the date of suspension if the employee remains entitled to compensation.
(a) If an employee knowingly omits or understates any earnings or work activity in making a report, he or she shall forfeit the right to compensation with respect to any period for which the report was required. A false or evasive statement, omission, concealment, or misrepresentation with respect to employment activity or earnings in a report may also subject an employee to criminal prosecution.
(b) Where the right to compensation is forfeited, OWCP shall recover any compensation already paid for the period of forfeiture pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8129 and other relevant statutes.
Reports of Dependents
(a) Dependents in disability cases are defined in § 10.405. While the employee has one or more dependents, the employee's basic compensation for wage loss or for permanent impairment shall be augmented as provided in 5 U.S.C. 8110. (The rules for death claims are found in § 10.414.)
(b) An employee who is receiving augmented compensation on account of dependents must advise OWCP immediately of any change in the number or status of dependents. The employee should also promptly refund to OWCP any amounts received on account of augmented compensation after the right to receive augmented compensation has ceased. Any difference between actual entitlement and the amount already paid beyond the date entitlement ended is an overpayment of compensation and may be recovered pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8129 and other relevant statutes.Start Printed Page 37928
(c) An employee who is receiving augmented compensation shall be periodically required to submit a statement as to any dependents, or to submit supporting documents such as birth or marriage certificates or court orders, to determine if he or she is still entitled to augmented compensation.
If an employee fails to submit a requested statement or supporting document within 30 days of the date of the request, OWCP will suspend his or her right to augmented compensation until OWCP receives the requested statement or supporting document. At that time, OWCP will reinstate augmented compensation retroactive to the date of suspension, provided that the employee is entitled to receive augmented compensation.
(a) Compensation payable on behalf of a child that would otherwise end when the child reaches 18 years of age will continue if and for so long as he or she is not married and is either a student as defined in 5 U.S.C. 8101(17), or physically or mentally incapable of self-support.
(b) At least once each year, OWCP will ask an employee who receives compensation based on the student status of a child to provide proof of continuing entitlement to such compensation, including certification of school enrollment. The employee is required to report any changes to student status in the interim as soon as they occur.
(c) Likewise, at least once each year, OWCP will ask an employee who receives compensation based on a child's physical or mental inability to support himself or herself, and who is not covered by § 10.417(d) of this part, to submit a medical report verifying that the child's medical condition persists and that it continues to preclude self- support. The employee is required to report any changes to that status in the interim.
(d) If an employee fails to submit proof within 30 days of the date of the request, OWCP will suspend the employee's right to compensation until the requested information is received. At that time OWCP will reinstate compensation retroactive to the date of suspension, provided the employee is entitled to such compensation.
Reduction and Termination of Compensation
(a) Except as provided in paragraphs (c), (d), and (e) of this section, where the evidence establishes that compensation should be either reduced or terminated, OWCP will provide the beneficiary with written notice of the proposed action and give him or her 30 days to submit relevant evidence or argument to support entitlement to continued payment of compensation.
(b) Notice provided under this section will include a description of the reasons for the proposed action and a copy of the specific evidence upon which OWCP is basing its determination. Payment of compensation will continue until any evidence or argument submitted has been reviewed and an appropriate decision has been issued, or until 30 days have elapsed if no additional evidence or argument is submitted.
(c) OWCP will not provide such written notice when the beneficiary has no reasonable basis to expect that payment of compensation will continue. For example, when a claim has been made for a specific period of time and that specific period expires, no written notice will be given.
(d) Written notice will also not be given when a beneficiary dies, when OWCP either reduces or terminates compensation upon an employee's return to work, when OWCP terminates only medical benefits after a physician indicates that further medical treatment is not necessary or has ended, or when OWCP denies payment for a particular medical expense.
(e) OWCP will also not provide such written notice when compensation is terminated, suspended or forfeited due to one of the following: A beneficiary's conviction for fraud in connection with a claim under the FECA; a beneficiary's incarceration based on any felony conviction; an employee's failure to report earnings from employment or self-employment; an employee's failure or refusal to either continue performing suitable work or to accept an offer of suitable work; or an employee's refusal to undergo or obstruction of a directed medical examination or treatment for substance abuse.
(a) If the beneficiary submits evidence or argument prior to the issuance of the decision, OWCP will evaluate it in light of the proposed action and undertake such further development as it may deem appropriate, if any. Evidence or argument which is repetitious, cumulative, or irrelevant will not require any further development. If the beneficiary does not respond within 30 days of the written notice, OWCP will issue a decision consistent with its prior notice. OWCP will not grant any request for an extension of this 30-day period.
(b) Evidence or argument which refutes the evidence upon which the proposed action was based will result in the continued payment of compensation. If the beneficiary submits evidence or argument which fails to refute the evidence upon which the proposed action was based but which requires further development, OWCP will not provide the beneficiary with another notice of its proposed action upon completion of such development. Once any further development of the evidence is completed, OWCP will either continue payment or issue a decision consistent with its prior notice.
Subpart G—Appeals Process
There are three methods for reviewing a formal decision of the OWCP (§§ 10.125 through 10.127 discuss how decisions are made). These methods are: reconsideration by the district office; a hearing before an OWCP hearing representative; and appeal to the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB). For each method there are time limitations and other restrictions which may apply, and not all options are available for all decisions, so the employee should consult the requirements set forth below. Further rules governing appeals to the ECAB are found at part 501 of this title.
Reconsiderations and Reviews by the Director
The FECA provides that the Director may review an award for or against compensation upon application by an employee (or his or her representative) who receives an adverse decision. The employee shall exercise this right through a request to the district office. The request, along with the supporting statements and evidence, is called the “application for reconsideration.”
(a) An employee (or representative) seeking reconsideration should send the application for reconsideration to the Start Printed Page 37929address as instructed by OWCP in the final decision.
(b) The application for reconsideration, including all supporting documents, must:
(1) Be submitted in writing;
(2) Be signed and dated by the claimant or the authorized representative; and
(3) Set forth arguments and contain evidence that either:
(i) Shows that OWCP erroneously applied or interpreted a specific point of law;
(ii) Advances a relevant legal argument not previously considered by OWCP; or
(iii) Constitutes relevant and pertinent new evidence not previously considered by OWCP.
(a) An application for reconsideration must be received by OWCP within one year of the date of the OWCP decision for which review is sought.
(b) OWCP will consider an untimely application for reconsideration only if the application demonstrates clear evidence of error on the part of OWCP in its most recent merit decision. The application must establish, on its face, that such decision was erroneous.
(c) The year in which a claimant has to timely request reconsideration shall not include any period subsequent to an OWCP decision for which the claimant can establish through probative medical evidence that he or she is unable to communicate in any way and that his or her testimony is necessary in order to obtain modification of the decision.
(a) A timely request for reconsideration may be granted if OWCP determines that the employee has presented evidence and/or argument that meets at least one of the standards described in § 10.606(b)(3). If reconsideration is granted, the case is reopened and the case is reviewed on its merits (see § 10.609).
(b) Where the request is timely but fails to meet at least one of the standards described in § 10.606(b)(3), or where the request is untimely and fails to present any clear evidence of error, OWCP will deny the application for reconsideration without reopening the case for a review on the merits. A decision denying an application for reconsideration cannot be the subject of another application for reconsideration. The only review for this type of non-merit decision is an appeal to the ECAB (see § 10.625), and OWCP will not entertain a request for reconsideration or a hearing on this decision denying reconsideration.
When application for reconsideration is granted, OWCP will review the decision for which reconsideration is sought on the merits and determine whether the new evidence or argument requires modification of the prior decision.
(a) After OWCP decides to grant reconsideration, but before undertaking the review, OWCP will send a copy of the reconsideration application to the employer, which will have 20 days from the date sent to comment or submit relevant documents. OWCP will provide any such comments to the employee, who will have 20 days from the date the comments are sent to him or her within which to comment. If no comments are received from the employer, OWCP will proceed with the merit review of the case. Where a reconsideration request pertains only to a medical issue (such as disability or a schedule award) not requiring comment from the employing agency, the employing agency will be notified that a request for reconsideration has been received, but OWCP is not required to wait 20 days for comment before reaching a determination, except when that claimant is deployed in an area of armed conflict.
(b) A claims examiner who did not participate in making the contested decision will conduct the merit review of the claim. When all evidence has been reviewed, OWCP will issue a new merit decision, based on all the evidence in the record. A copy of the decision will be provided to the agency.
(c) An employee dissatisfied with this new merit decision may again request reconsideration under this subpart or appeal to the ECAB. An employee may not request a hearing on this decision.
The FECA specifies that an award for or against payment of compensation may be reviewed at any time on the Director's own motion. Such review may be made without regard to whether there is new evidence or information. If the Director determines that a review of the award is warranted (including, but not limited to circumstances indicating a mistake of fact or law or changed conditions), the Director (at any time and on the basis of existing evidence) may modify, rescind, decrease or increase compensation previously awarded, or award compensation previously denied. A review on the Director's own motion is not subject to a request or petition and none shall be entertained.
(a) The decision whether or not to review an award under this section is solely within the discretion of the Director. The Director's exercise of this discretion is not subject to review by the ECAB, nor can it be the subject of a reconsideration or hearing request.
(b) Where the Director reviews an award on his or her own motion, any resulting decision is subject as appropriate to reconsideration, a hearing and/or appeal to the ECAB. Jurisdiction on review or on appeal to ECAB is limited to a review of the merits of the resulting decision. The Director's determination to review the award is not reviewable.
A hearing is a review of an adverse decision by a hearing representative. Initially, the claimant can choose between two formats: An oral hearing or a review of the written record. At the discretion of the hearing representative, an oral hearing may be conducted by telephone, teleconference, videoconference or other electronic means. In addition to the evidence of record, the employee may submit new evidence to the hearing representative.
(a) A claimant, injured on or after July 4, 1966, who has received a final adverse decision by the district office may obtain a hearing by writing to the address specified in the decision. The hearing request must be sent within 30 days (as determined by postmark or other carrier's date marking) of the date of the decision for which a hearing is sought. The claimant must not have previously submitted a reconsideration request (whether or not it was granted) on the same decision.
(b) OWCP will schedule an oral hearing and determine whether the oral hearing will be conducted in person, including whether the in person hearing will be by teleconference, videoconference or other electronic means. The claimant can request a change in the format from a hearing to a review of the written record by making a written request to the Branch of Hearings and Review. OWCP will grant a request received by the Branch of Hearings and Review within 30 days of: the date OWCP acknowledges the initial hearing request, or the date OWCP issues a notice setting a date for an oral hearing, in cases where the initial Start Printed Page 37930request was for, or was treated as a request for, an oral hearing. A request received after those dates will be subject to OWCP's discretion. The decision to grant or deny a change of format from a hearing to a review of the written record is not reviewable.
(a) The hearing representative retains complete discretion to set the time, place and method of the hearing, including the amount of time allotted for the hearing, considering the issues to be resolved. Any requests for reasonable accommodation by individuals with disabilities should be made through the procedure described in the initial acknowledgement letter.
(b) Unless otherwise directed in writing by the claimant, the hearing representative will mail a notice of the time, place and method of the oral hearing to the claimant and any representative at least 30 days before the scheduled date. The employer will also be mailed a notice at least 30 days before the scheduled date.
(c) The hearing is an informal process, and the hearing representative is not bound by common law or statutory rules of evidence, by technical or formal rules of procedure or by section 5 of the Administrative Procedure Act, but the hearing representative may conduct the hearing in such manner as to best ascertain the rights of the claimant. During the hearing process, the claimant may state his or her arguments and present new written evidence in support of the claim. Hearings are limited to one hour; this limitation may be extended in the discretion of the hearing representative.
(d) Testimony at oral hearings, including those conducted by teleconference, videoconference or other electronic means, is recorded, then transcribed and placed in the record. Oral testimony shall be made under oath. The transcript of the hearing is the official record of the hearing.
(e) OWCP will furnish a transcript of the oral hearing to the claimant and the employer, who have 20 days from the date it is sent to comment. The employer shall send any comments to OWCP and the claimant, who will have 20 more days from the date of the agency's certificate of service to comment.
(f) The hearing remains open for the submittal of additional evidence until 30 days after the hearing is held, unless the hearing representative, in his or her sole discretion, grants an extension. Only one such extension may be granted. A copy of the decision will be mailed to the claimant's last known address, to any representative, and to the employer.
(g) The hearing representative determines the conduct of the oral hearing and may terminate the hearing at any time he or she determines that all relevant evidence has been obtained, or because of misbehavior on the part of the claimant and/or representative.
(h) Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8126, if an individual disobeys or resists a lawful order or process in proceedings under this part, or misbehaves during a hearing or in a manner so as to obstruct the hearing, OWCP may certify the facts to the appropriate U.S. District Court, which may, if the evidence warrants, punish the individual in the same manner and to the same extent as for a contempt committed before the court, or commit the individual on the same conditions as if the forbidden act had occurred with reference to the process of or in the presence of the court.
(a) The hearing representative will review the official record and any additional evidence submitted by the claimant and by the agency. The hearing representative may also conduct whatever investigation is deemed necessary. New evidence and arguments are to be submitted at any time up to the time specified by OWCP, but they should be submitted as soon as possible to avoid delaying the hearing process.
(b) The claimant should submit, with his or her application for review, all evidence or argument that he or she wants to present to the hearing representative. If the claimant chooses to change the request from an oral hearing to a review of the written record, the claimant should submit all evidence or argument at that time. A copy of all pertinent material will be sent to the employer, which will have 20 days from the date it is sent to comment. (Medical evidence is not considered “pertinent” for review and comment by the agency, and it will therefore not be furnished to the agency. OWCP has sole responsibility for evaluating medical evidence.) The employer shall send any comments to OWCP and the claimant, who will have 20 more days from the date of the agency's certificate of service to comment.
A claimant may request a subpoena, but the decision to grant or deny such a request is within the discretion of the hearing representative. The hearing representative may issue subpoenas for the attendance and testimony of witnesses, and for the production of books, records, correspondence, papers or other relevant documents. Subpoenas are issued for documents only if they are relevant and cannot be obtained by other means, and for witnesses only where oral testimony is the best way to ascertain the facts.
(a) A claimant may request a subpoena only as part of the hearings process, and no subpoena will be issued under any other part of the claims process. To request a subpoena, the requestor must:
(1) Submit the request in writing and send it to the hearing representative as early as possible but no later than 60 days (as evidenced by postmark, electronic marker or other objective date mark) after the date of the original hearing request.
(2) Explain in the original request for a subpoena why the testimony or evidence is directly relevant to the issues at hand, and a subpoena is the best method or opportunity to obtain such evidence because there are no other means by which the documents or testimony could have been obtained.
(b) No subpoena will be issued for attendance of employees of OWCP acting in their official capacities as decision-makers or policy administrators. For hearings taking the form of a review of the written record, no subpoena for the appearance of witnesses will be considered.
(c) The hearing representative issues the subpoena under his or her own name. It may be served in person or by certified mail, return receipt requested (or equivalent service from a commercial carrier), addressed to the person to be served at his or her last known principal place of business or residence. A decision to deny a subpoena can only be appealed as part of an appeal of any adverse decision which results from the hearing.
(a) Witnesses who are not employees or former employees of the Federal Government shall be paid the same fees and mileage as paid for like services in the District Court of the United States where the subpoena is returnable, except that expert witnesses shall be paid a fee not to exceed the local customary fee for such services.
(b) Where OWCP asked that the witness submit evidence into the case record or asked that the witness attend, OWCP shall pay the fees and mileage. Where the claimant requested the subpoena, and where the witness Start Printed Page 37931submitted evidence into the record at the request of the claimant, the claimant shall pay the fees and mileage.
(a) The employer may send one (or more, if deemed appropriate by the hearing representative) representative(s) to observe the proceeding, but the agency representative cannot give testimony or argument or otherwise participate in the hearing, except where the claimant or the hearing representative specifically asks the agency representative to testify.
(b) The hearing representative may deny a request by the claimant that the agency representative testify where the claimant cannot show that the testimony would be relevant or where the agency representative does not have the appropriate level of knowledge to provide such evidence at the hearing. The employer may also comment on the hearing transcript, as described in § 10.617(e).
(a) The claimant and/or representative may withdraw the hearing request at any time up to and including the day the hearing is held, or the decision issued. Withdrawing the hearing request means the record is returned to the jurisdiction of the district office and no further requests for a hearing on the underlying decision will be considered.
(b) OWCP will entertain any reasonable request for scheduling the oral hearing, including whether to participate by teleconference, videoconference or other electronic means, but such requests should be made at the time of the original application for hearing. Scheduling (including format) is at the sole discretion of the hearing representative, and is not reviewable.
(c) Once the oral hearing is scheduled and OWCP has mailed appropriate written notice to the claimant and representative, OWCP will, upon submission of proper written documentation of unavoidable serious scheduling conflicts (such as court-ordered appearances/trials, jury duty or previously scheduled outpatient procedures), entertain requests from a claimant or his representative for rescheduling as long as the hearing can be rescheduled on the same monthly docket, generally no more than 7 days after the originally scheduled time. When a request to postpone a scheduled hearing under this subsection cannot be accommodated on the docket, no further opportunity for an oral hearing will be provided. Instead, the hearing will take the form of a review of the written record and a decision issued accordingly.
(d) Where the claimant or representative is hospitalized for a non-elective reason or where the death of the claimant's or representative's parent, spouse, child or other immediate family prevents attendance at the hearing, OWCP will, upon submission of proper documentation, grant a postponement beyond one monthly docket.
(e) Decisions regarding rescheduling under paragraphs (b) through (d) of this section are within the sole discretion of the hearing representative and are not reviewable.
(f) A claimant who fails to appear at a scheduled hearing may request in writing within 10 days after the date set for the hearing that another hearing be scheduled. Where good cause for failure to appear is shown, another hearing will be scheduled and conducted by teleconference. The failure of the claimant to request another hearing within 10 days, or the failure of the claimant to appear at the second scheduled hearing without good cause shown, shall constitute abandonment of the request for a hearing. Where good cause is shown for failure to appear at the second scheduled hearing, review of the matter will proceed as a review of the written record.
Review by the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB)
Only final decisions of OWCP may be appealed to the ECAB. However, certain types of final decisions, described in this part as not subject to further review, cannot be appealed to the ECAB. Decisions that are not appealable to the ECAB include: Decisions concerning the amounts payable for medical services, decisions concerning exclusion and reinstatement of medical providers, decisions by the Director to review an award on his or her own motion, and denials of subpoenas independent of the appeal of the underlying decision. In appeals before the ECAB, attorneys from the Office of the Solicitor of Labor shall represent OWCP.
While a case is on appeal to the ECAB, OWCP has no jurisdiction over the claim with respect to issues which directly relate to the issue or issues on appeal. The OWCP continues to administer the claim and retains jurisdiction over issues unrelated to the issue or issues on appeal and issues which arise after the appeal as a result of ongoing administration of the case. Such issues would include, for example, the ability to terminate benefits where an individual returns to work while an appeal is pending at the ECAB. ECAB's rules of procedure are found at part 501 of this title.
Subpart H—Special Provisions
(a) The claims process under the FECA is informal. Unlike many workers' compensation laws, the employer is not a party to the claim, and OWCP acts as an impartial evaluator of the evidence. Nevertheless, a claimant may appoint one individual to represent his or her interests, but the appointment must be in writing.
(b) There can be only one representative at any one time, so after one representative has been properly appointed, OWCP will not recognize another individual as representative until the claimant withdraws the authorization of the first individual. In addition, OWCP will recognize only certain types of individuals (see § 10.701); however if the representative is an attorney, OWCP may communicate with any member of that attorney's recognized law firm.
(c) A properly appointed representative who is recognized by OWCP may make a request or give direction to OWCP regarding the claims process, including a hearing. This authority includes presenting or eliciting evidence, making arguments on facts or the law, and obtaining information from the case file, to the same extent as the claimant.
A claimant may authorize any individual to represent him or her in regard to a claim under the FECA, unless that individual's service as a representative would violate any applicable provision of law (such as 18 U.S.C. 205 and 208). A Federal employee may act as a representative only:
(a) On behalf of immediate family members, defined as a spouse, children, parents, and siblings of the representative, provided no fee or gratuity is charged; or
(b) While acting as a union representative, defined as any officially sanctioned union official, and no fee or gratuity is charged.
(a) A representative may charge the claimant a fee and other costs associated with the representation before OWCP. The claimant is solely responsible for paying the fee and other charges. The claimant will not be reimbursed by OWCP, nor is OWCP in any way liable for the amount of the fee. Contingency fees are not allowed in any form.
(b) Administrative costs (mailing, copying, messenger services, travel and the like, but not including secretarial services, paralegal and other activities) need not be approved before the representative collects them. Before any fee for services can be collected, however, the fee must be approved by the Secretary.
(a) Fee application. The representative must submit the fee application to OWCP for services rendered before OWCP. (Representative services before ECAB must be approved by ECAB under 20 CFR part 501.) The application submitted to OWCP shall contain the following:
(1) An itemized statement showing the representative's hourly rate, the number of hours worked and specifically identifying the work performed and a total amount charged for the representation (excluding administrative costs).
(2) A statement of agreement or disagreement with the amount charged, signed by the claimant. The statement must also acknowledge that the claimant is aware that he or she must pay the fees and that OWCP is not responsible for paying the fee or other costs.
(b) Approval where there is no dispute. Where a fee application that describes the services rendered in accordance with paragraph (a)(1) of this section is accompanied by a signed statement indicating the claimant's agreement with the fee as described in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, the application is deemed approved except that no contingency fee arrangement may be considered deemed approved through this process.
(c) Disputed requests. (1) Where the claimant disagrees with the amount of the fee, as indicated in the statement accompanying the submittal, OWCP will evaluate the objection and decide whether or not to approve the request. OWCP will provide a copy of the request to the claimant and ask him or her to submit any further information in support of the objection within 15 days from the date the request is forwarded. After that period has passed, OWCP will evaluate the information received to determine whether the amount of the fee is substantially in excess of the value of services received by looking at the following factors:
(i) Usefulness of the representative's services;
(ii) The nature and complexity of the claim;
(iii) The actual time spent on development and presentation of the claim; and
(iv) Customary local charges for services for a representative of similar background and experience.
(2) Where the claimant disputes the representative's request and files an objection with OWCP, an appealable decision will be issued.
Representatives who collect a fee without proper approval from OWCP may be charged with a misdemeanor under 18 U.S.C. 292.
Third Party Liability
(a) If an injury or death for which benefits are payable under the FECA is caused, wholly or partially, by someone other than a Federal employee acting within the scope of his or her employment, the claimant can be required to take action against that third party.
(b) The Office of the Solicitor of Labor (SOL) is hereby delegated authority to administer the subrogation aspects of certain FECA claims for OWCP. Either OWCP or SOL can require a FECA beneficiary to assign his or her claim for damages to the United States or to prosecute the claim in his or her own name. All information regarding subrogation claims administered by SOL should be submitted to Chief, Subrogation Unit, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Room S4325, Washington, DC 20210.
When OWCP determines that an employee or other FECA beneficiary must take action against a third party, it will notify the employee or beneficiary in writing. If the case is transferred to SOL, a second notification may be issued.
At a minimum, a FECA beneficiary must do the following:
(a) Seek damages for the injury or death from the third party, either through an attorney or on his or her own behalf;
(b) Either initiate a lawsuit within the appropriate statute of limitations period or obtain a written release of this obligation from OWCP or SOL unless recovery is possible through a negotiated settlement prior to filing suit;
(c) Refuse to settle or dismiss the case for any amount less than the amount necessary to repay OWCP's refundable disbursements, as defined in § 10.714, without receiving permission from OWCP or SOL;
(d) Provide periodic status updates and other relevant information in response to requests from OWCP or SOL;
(e) Submit detailed information about the amount recovered and the costs of the suit on a “Statement of Recovery” form approved by OMB;
(f) Submit information regarding the names of all plaintiffs to the suit or settlement and their relationship to the injured employee, if not the same as the FECA beneficiary;
(g) If any portion of the settlement or judgment was paid to more than one individual, advise whether it was indicated in the settlement or judgment the amount each individual is to receive, and if so, the percentage of the total award;
(h) Advise whether any portion of the settlement or judgment was paid in more than one capacity, such as a joint payment to a husband and wife for personal injury and loss of consortium or a payment to a spouse representing both loss of consortium and wrongful death; and
(i) Pay any required refund.
When a FECA beneficiary refuses a request to either assign a claim or prosecute a claim in his or her own name, OWCP may determine that he or she has forfeited his or her right to all past or future compensation for the injury with respect to which the request is made. Alternatively, OWCP may also suspend the FECA beneficiary's compensation payments until he or she complies with the request.
If a beneficiary consults an attorney and is informed that a suit for damages against a third party for the injury or death for which benefits are payable is unlikely to prevail or that the costs of such a suit are not justified by the potential recovery, he or she should request that OWCP or SOL release him or her from the obligation to proceed. This request should be in writing and provide evidence of the attorney's opinion. If OWCP or SOL agrees, the beneficiary will not be required to take further action against the third party.
Any person who has filed a FECA claim that has been accepted by OWCP (whether or not compensation has been paid), or who has received FECA benefits in connection with a claim filed by another, is required to notify OWCP or SOL of the receipt of money or other property as a result of a settlement or judgment in connection with the circumstances of that claim. This includes an injured employee, and in the case of a claim involving the death of an employee, a spouse, children or other dependents entitled to receive survivor's benefits. OWCP or SOL should be notified in writing within 30 days of the receipt of such money or other property or the acceptance of the FECA claim, whichever occurs later.
(a) When a FECA beneficiary is entitled to receive money as a result of a judgment entered in a lawsuit or settlement of a lawsuit or any other settlement or recovery from a responsible third party, the entire amount of the award is reported as the gross recovery. To determine the amount of the recovery of the FECA beneficiary, deductions are made for the portion representing damage to real or personal property, the portion representing loss of consortium, the portion representing wrongful death and the portion representing a survival action. To make deductions for loss of consortium, wrongful death and survival action, it must be established that:
(1) These claims were asserted in the suit (or if there was no suit that these claims were included in the settlement or recovery); and
(2) That such claims are permissible under the state law where the action was brought.
(b) OWCP or SOL will determine the appropriate percentage of the total judgment or settlement that will be allocated for loss of consortium, wrongful death action and survival action. FECA beneficiaries may accept OWCP's or SOL's determination or demonstrate good cause in writing for a different allocation. Whether to accept a specific allocation is at the discretion of OWCP or SOL, even where it has been incorporated into the settlement agreement. OWCP or SOL will not determine the appropriate percentage to be allocated for loss of consortium, wrongful death action and survival action if a judge or jury specifies the percentage to be awarded of a contested verdict attributable to each of several plaintiffs; in such case, OWCP or SOL will accept that percentage allocation.
(c) The amount of the recovery of the FECA beneficiary will be determined as followed:
(1) If a settlement or judgment is paid to or for one individual, the recovery is the gross recovery less the portion representing damage to real or personal property. The portion representing damage to real or personal property must be established in writing and approved by OWCP or SOL.
(2) In any case involving an injury to an employee where a judgment or settlement is paid to or on behalf of more than one individual, the recovery is the gross recovery less the portion representing damage to real or personal property and less the portion representing loss of consortium. OWCP or SOL will allocate up to 25% for a spouse and up to 5% for each child not to exceed 15% for all children for loss of consortium.
(3) In any case involving the death of an employee, where both wrongful death and survival actions have been asserted, separate statements of recovery are completed for the deceased employee and the surviving FECA beneficiaries. For the deceased employee, the recovery is the gross recovery less the portion representing damage to real or personal property, less the portion representing loss of consortium, less the portion representing the wrongful death action. For the surviving spouse and children, the recovery is the gross recovery less the portion representing damage to real or personal property, less the portion representing loss of consortium, less the portion representing the survival action. OWCP or SOL will allocate the total judgment or settlement as follows:
(i) For loss of consortium, OWCP or SOL will allocate up to 15% for a spouse and up to 5% for each child not to exceed 10% for all children;
(ii) For the wrongful death action, OWCP or SOL will allocate 65% of the remainder after subtraction of the amounts attributed to loss of consortium;
(iii) For the survival action, OWCP or SOL will allocate 35% percent of the remainder after subtraction of the amounts attributed to loss of consortium.
(d) In any case involving an injury to an employee where a judgment or settlement is paid to or on behalf of more than one individual and in any case involving the death of an employee, court costs will be attributed using the same percentages as was used for loss of consortium, wrongful death action and survival action. Attorney fees will be determined using the same percentage that was used for the gross recovery. These calculations are used only for the purpose of determining the amount of the refund and if applicable the surplus.
The statute permits a FECA beneficiary to retain, as a minimum, one-fifth of the net amount of money or property remaining after a reasonable attorney's fee and the costs of litigation have been deducted from the third-party recovery. The United States shares in the attorney fees by allowing the beneficiary to retain, at the time of distribution, an amount equivalent to a reasonable attorney's fee proportionate to the refund due the United States. After the refund owed to the United States is calculated, the FECA beneficiary retains any surplus remaining, and this amount is credited, dollar for dollar, against future compensation including wage-loss compensation, schedule award benefits and medical benefits for the same injury, as defined in § 10.719. OWCP will resume the payment of compensation only after the FECA beneficiary has been awarded compensation which exceeds the amount of the surplus.
(a) The refund to the United States is calculated as follows, using the Statement of Recovery form approved by OMB:
(1) Determine the amount of the recovery of the FECA beneficiary as set forth in § 10.711 as follows:Start Printed Page 37934
(i) Set out the gross recovery which is the entire amount of the award;
(ii) Subtract the amount of award representing damage to real or personal property approved by OWCP or SOL (Subtotal A);
(iii) Multiply Subtotal A by the appropriate percentage in § 10.711(c), or if it is a contested verdict by the percentage allocated by the judge or jury, and subtract this amount from Subtotal A (Subtotal B);
(iv) If both a wrongful death action and survival action have been asserted, multiply Subtotal B by 65% to determine the amount allocated to the wrongful death case and multiply Subtotal B by 35% to determine the amount allocated to the survival action, or if it is a contested verdict, by the percentage allocated by the judge or jury. Separate Statements of Recovery must be completed for each cause of action. For the wrongful death action use the result of Subtotal B times 65% for Subtotal C and for the survival action use the result of Subtotal B times 35% for Subtotal C. If both a wrongful death and survival have not been asserted the amount in Subtotal B is used for Subtotal C;
(v) Subtotal C is the amount of recovery of the FECA beneficiary;
(2) Subtract the amount of attorney's fees actually paid, but not more than the maximum amount of attorney's fees considered by OWCP or SOL to be reasonable, from Subtotal C. This is calculated by first determining the attorney fee percentage which is determined by dividing the gross recovery into the amount of attorney's fees actually paid, but the attorney's fee amount must not be more than the maximum amount of attorney's fees considered to be reasonable by OWCP or SOL and must be approved by OWCP or SOL. Subtotal C is multiplied by the fee percentage and this amount is subtracted from Subtotal C (Subtotal D);
(3) Subtract the costs of litigation, as allowed by OWCP or SOL from Subtotal D (Subtotal E). If loss of consortium and/or wrongful death and survival actions are claimed, the costs of litigation are reduced first by the percentage used for loss of consortium and then by the percentage used for wrongful death or survival action as set forth in § 10.711;
(4) Multiply Subtotal E by 20% and subtract this amount from Subtotal E (Subtotal F);
(5) Compare Subtotal F and the refundable disbursements as defined in § 10.714. Subtotal G is the lower of the two amounts;
(6) Multiply Subtotal G by the percentage used for attorney's fees in paragraph (a)(2), to determine the Government's allowance for attorney's fees, and subtract this amount from Subtotal G. This is the amount of the refund.
(b) The credit against future benefits (also referred to as the surplus) is calculated as follows:
(1) If Subtotal F, as calculated according to paragraph (a)(4) of this section, is less than the refundable disbursements, as defined in § 10.714, there is no credit to be applied against future benefits (but the remainder of the unused disbursements must be applied to any future recovery for the same injury);
(2) If Subtotal F is greater than the refundable disbursements, the credit against future benefits (or surplus) amount is determined by subtracting the refundable disbursements from Subtotal F.
(c) Examples of how these calculations are made follows:
(1) In this example, a Federal employee sues another party for causing injuries for which the employee has received $22,000 in benefits under the FECA, subject to refund. The suit is settled and the injured employee receives $100,000, all of which was for his injury. The injured worker paid attorney's fees of $25,000 and costs for the litigation of $3,000.
|(i) Gross Recovery||$100,000.00|
|(ii) Amount of Property Damage||$0.00|
|(iii) Subtotal A (Line a minus Line b)||$100,000.00|
|(iv) Amount Allocated for Loss of Consortium 0% of Line c||$0.00|
|(v) Subtotal B (Line c minus Line d)||$100,000.00|
|(vi) Amount Allocated for Wrongful Death 0% of Line e||$0.00|
|(vii) Amount Allocated for Survival Action 0% of Line e||$0.00|
|(viii) Subtotal C—If Wrongful Death use Line f, if survival action use Line g, otherwise use Subtotal B||$100,000.00|
|(ix) Attorney's Fees 25% (Line h × .25)||$25,000.00|
|(x) Subtotal D (Line h minus Line i)||$75,000.00|
|(xi) Court costs||$3,000.00|
|(xii) Subtotal E (Line j minus Line k)||$72,000.00|
|(xiii) One-fifth of Subtotal E (Line l × .20)||$14,400.00|
|(xiv) Subtotal F (Line l minus Line m)||$57,600.00|
|(xv) Refundable Disbursements||$22,000.00|
|(xvi) Subtotal G (lower of Subtotal F or refundable disbursements)||$22,000.00|
|(xvii) Government's allowance for attorney's fees (attorney's fees percentage used to determine Subtotal D multiplied by Subtotal G)||$5,500.00|
|(xviii) Refund to the United States (Line p minus Line q)||$16,500.00|
|(xix) Credit against future benefits (If Subtotal F greater than refundable disbursements, Line n minus Line o)||$35,600.00|
(2) In this example, a Federal employee who is married sues another party for causing injuries as a result of car accident where she was driving her personally owned vehicle on approved travel and the employee received $75,000 in disbursements. The suit includes a claim for loss of consortium which is permitted under the state law and for damage to her vehicle (documented at $50,000.00). A joint settlement is reached where the injured employee and her spouse receive $250,000 for all their claims. Attorney's fees were $83,325 and there were $25,000 in approved court costs.
|(i) Gross Recovery||$250,000.00|
|(ii) Amount of Property Damage||$50,000.00|
|(iii) Subtotal A (Line a minus Line b)||$200,000.00|
|(iv) Amount Allocated for Loss of Consortium (25% of Line c)||$50,000.00|
|(v) Subtotal B (Line c minus Line d)||$150,000.00|
|(vi) Amount Allocated for Wrongful Death 0% of Line e||$0.00|
|Start Printed Page 37935|
|(vii) Amount Allocated for Survival Action 0% of Line e||$0.00|
|(viii) Subtotal C—If Wrongful Death Use Line f, if survival action use Line g, otherwise use Subtotal B||$150,000.00|
|(ix) Attorney's Fees 33.33% (line h × .3333)||$49,995.00|
|(x) Subtotal D (Line h minus Line i)||$100,005.00|
|(xi) Court costs are reduced by the amount allocated for the loss of consortium (in this example, $25,000 − ($25,000 × .25))||$18,750.00|
|(xii) Subtotal E (line j minus Line k)||$81,255.00|
|(xiii) One-fifth of Subtotal E (Line l × .20)||$16,251.00|
|(xiv) Subtotal F (Line l minus Line m)||$65,004.00|
|(xv) Refundable Disbursements||$75,000.00|
|(xvi) Subtotal G (lower of Subtotal F or refundable disbursements)||$65,004.00|
|(xvii) Government's allowance for attorney's fees (attorney's fees percentage used to determine Subtotal D multiplied by subtotal G)||$21,665.83|
|(xviii) Refund to the United States (Line p minus Line q)||$43,338.17|
|(xix) Credit against future benefits (If Subtotal F is greater than refundable disbursements, Line n minus Line o)||$0.00|
(3) In this example, a Federal employee who is married with two minor children is killed in the performance of duty. A suit for wrongful death and survival is filed which includes claims for loss of consortium all of which is permitted under state law. A joint settlement is reached for all claims and all parties in the amount of $1,000,000. There were court costs of $48,000 and attorney's fees of $300,000. Two Statements of Recovery are completed: One for the wrongful death claim and the other for the survival action. Disbursements in this case were $30,000 for the deceased employee and $100,000 for the surviving spouse and children.
(i) For the wrongful death claim the calculation is as follows:
|(A) Gross Recovery||$1,000.000.00|
|(B) Amount of Property Damage||$0.00|
|(C) Subtotal A (Line a minus Line b)||$1,000,000.00|
|(D) Amount Allocated for Loss of Consortium (25% (15% for spouse, 5% for each child) of Line c)||$250,000.00|
|(E) Subtotal B (Line c minus Line d)||$750,000.00|
|(F) Amount Allocated for Wrongful Death 65% of Line e||$487,500.00|
|(G) Amount Allocated for Survival Action 35% of Line e||$262,500.00|
|(H) Subtotal C—If Wrongful Death Use Line f, if survival action use Line g, otherwise use Subtotal B||$487,500.00|
|(I) Attorney's Fees 30% (Line h × .30)||$146,250.00|
|(J) Subtotal D (Line h minus Line i)||$341,250.00|
|(K) Court costs are reduced by the amount allocated for the loss of consortium (in this example, .25 × $48,000 = 12,000) and then by the amount allocated for survivor action, [(48,000 − 12,000) × .35 = 12,600], [48,000 − 12,000 − 12,600])||$23,400.00|
|(L) Subtotal E (Line j minus Line k)||$317,850.00|
|(M) One-fifth of Subtotal E (Line l × .20)||$63,570.00|
|(N) Subtotal F (Line l minus Line m)||$254,280.00|
|(O) Refundable Disbursements||$100,000.00|
|(P) Subtotal G (lower of Subtotal F or refundable disbursements)||$100,000.00|
|(Q) Government's allowance for attorney's fees (attorney's fees percentage used to determine Subtotal D multiplied by subtotal G)||$30,000.00|
|(R) Refund to the United States (Line p minus Line q)||$70,000.00|
|(S) Credit against future benefits (If Subtotal F is greater than refundable disbursements, Line n minus Line o)||$154,280.00|
(ii) For the survival claim the calculation is as follows:
|(A) Gross Recovery||$1,000.000.00|
|(B) Amount of Property Damage||$0.00|
|(C) Subtotal A (Line a minus Line b)||$1,000,000.00|
|(D) Amount Allocated for Loss of Consortium (25% (15% for spouse, 5% for each child) of Line c)||$250,000.00|
|(E) Subtotal B (Line c minus Line d)||$750,000.00|
|(F) Amount Allocated for Wrongful Death 65% of Line e||$487,500.00|
|(G) Amount Allocated for Survival Action 35% of Line e||$262,500.00|
|(H) Subtotal C—If Wrongful Death Use Line f, if survival action use Line g, otherwise use Subtotal B||$262,500.00|
|(I) Attorney's Fees 30% (line h × .30)||$78,750.00|
|(J) Subtotal D (Line h minus Line i)||$183,750.00|
|(K) Court costs are reduced by the amount allocated for the loss of consortium (in this example, .25 × $48,000 = 12,000) and then by the amount allocated for wrongful death, [(48,000 − 12,000) × .65 = 23,400], [48,000 − 12,000 − 23,400])||$12,600.00|
|(L) Subtotal E (Line j minus Line k)||$171,150.00|
|(M) One-fifth of Subtotal E (Line l × .20)||$34,230.00|
|(N) Subtotal F (Line l minus Line m)||$136,920.00|
|(O) Refundable Disbursements||$30,000.00|
|(P) Subtotal G (lower of Subtotal F or refundable disbursements)||$30,000.00|
|(Q) Government's allowance for attorney's fees (attorney's fees percentage used to determine Subtotal D multiplied by subtotal G)||$9,000.00|
|(R) Refund to the United States (Line p minus Line q)||$21,000.00|
|(S) Credit against future benefits (If Subtotal F is greater than refundable disbursements, Line n minus Line o)||$106,920.00|
In this situation, the gross recovery to be reported is the present value of the right to receive all of the payments included in the structured settlement, allocated in the case of multiple recipients in the same manner as single payment recoveries.
The refundable disbursements of a specific claim consist of the total money paid by OWCP from the Employees' Compensation Fund with respect to that claim to or on behalf of a FECA beneficiary including charges for field nurses, vocational rehabilitation, and second opinion and referee physicians, less charges for any medical file review (i.e., the physician does not examine the employee) done at the request of OWCP. Charges for medical examinations also may be subtracted if the FECA beneficiary establishes that the examinations were required to be made available to the employee under a statute other than the FECA by the employing agency or at the employing agency's cost. Requests for disbursements can be made to SOL or OWCP.
If the refund due to the United States is not submitted within 30 days of receiving a request for payment from SOL or OWCP, interest shall accrue on the refund due to the United States from the date of the request. The rate of interest assessed shall be the rate of the current value of funds to the United States Treasury as published in the Federal Register (as of the date the request for payment is sent). Waiver of the collection of interest shall be in accordance with the provisions of the Department of Labor regulations on Federal Claims Collection governing waiver of interest, 29 CFR 20.61.
If the required refund is not paid within 30 days of the request for payment, OWCP can, in its discretion, collect the refund by withholding all or part of any payments currently payable to the beneficiary under the FECA with respect to any injury. The waiver provisions of §§ 10.432 through 10.440 do not apply to such determinations.
Since an injury caused by medical malpractice in treating an injury covered by the FECA is also an injury covered under the FECA, any recovery in a suit alleging such an injury is treated as a gross recovery that must be reported to OWCP or SOL.
Since payments received by a FECA beneficiary pursuant to an insurance policy purchased by someone other than a liable third party are not payments in satisfaction of liability for causing an injury covered by the FECA, they are not considered a gross recovery covered by section 8132 that requires filing a Statement of Recovery and paying any required refund.
(a) All wounds, diseases or other medical conditions accepted by OWCP in connection with a single claim are treated as the same injury for the purpose of computing any required refund and any credit against future benefits in connection with the receipt of a recovery from a third party, except that an injury caused by medical malpractice in treating an injury covered under the FECA will be treated as a separate injury for purposes of section 8132.
(b) If an injury covered under the FECA is caused under circumstances creating a legal liability in more than one person, other than the United States, to pay damages, OWCP or SOL will determine whether recoveries received from one or more third parties should be attributed to separate conditions for which compensation is payable in connection with a single FECA claim. If such an attribution is both practicable and equitable, as determined by OWCP or SOL, in its discretion, the conditions will be treated as separate injuries for purposes of calculating the refund and credit owed to the United States under section 8132.
Federal Grand and Petit Jurors
(a) Federal grand and petit jurors are covered under the FECA when they are in performance of duty as a juror, which includes that time when a juror is:
(1) In attendance at court pursuant to a summons;
(2) In deliberation;
(3) Sequestered by order of a judge; or
(4) At a site, by order of the court, for the taking of a view.
(b) A juror is not considered to be in the performance of duty while traveling to or from home in connection with the activities enumerated in paragraphs (a) (1) through (4) of this section.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1877, entitlement to disability compensation does not commence until the day after the date of termination of service as a juror.
For the purpose of computing compensation payable for disability or death, a juror is deemed to receive pay at the minimum rate for Grade GS-2 of the General Schedule unless his or her actual pay as an “employee” of the United States while serving on court leave is higher, in which case the pay rate for compensation purposes is determined in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 8114.
Peace Corps Volunteers
(a) Any injury sustained by a volunteer or volunteer leader while he or she is located abroad is deemed proximately caused by Peace Corps employment and will be found by OWCP to have been sustained in the performance of duty, and any illness contracted while that volunteer is located abroad will be found by OWCP to be proximately caused by the employment unless the evidence establishes:
(1) The injury or illness was caused by the claimant's willful misconduct, intent to bring about the injury or death of self or another, or was proximately caused by the intoxication by alcohol or illegal drugs of the injured claimant; or
(2) The illness is shown to have pre-existed the period of service abroad; or
(3) The injury or illness claimed is a manifestation of symptoms of, or Start Printed Page 37937consequent to, a pre-existing congenital defect or abnormality.
(b) If the OWCP finds that the evidence indicates that the injury or illness may not have been sustained in the performance of duty due to the circumstances enumerated in paragraph (a)(2) and (3) of this section, the claimant may still prove his claim by the submittal of substantial and probative evidence that such injury or illness was sustained in the performance of duty with the Peace Corps.
(c) If an injury or illness, or episode thereof, comes within one of the exceptions described in paragraph (a)(2) or (3) of this section, the claimant may nonetheless be entitled to compensation. This will be so provided he or she meets the burden of proving by the submittal of substantial, probative and rationalized medical evidence that the illness or injury was proximately caused by factors or conditions of Peace Corps service, or that it was materially aggravated, accelerated or precipitated by factors of Peace Corps service; if the injury or illness was temporarily aggravated by factors of Peace Corps service, disability compensation is payable for the period of such aggravation.
The pay rate for these claimants is defined as the pay rate in effect on the date following separation, provided that the rate equals or exceeds the pay rate on the date of injury. It is defined in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 8142(a), not 8101(4).
Non-Federal Law Enforcement Officers
(a) A law enforcement officer (officer) includes an employee of a State or local Government, the Governments of U.S. possessions and territories, or an employee of the United States pensioned or pensionable under sections 521-535 of Title 4, D.C. Code, whose functions include the activities listed in 5 U.S.C. 8191.
(b) Benefits are available to officers who are not “employees” under 5 U.S.C. 8101, and who are determined in the discretion of OWCP to have been engaged in the activities listed in 5 U.S.C. 8191 with respect to the enforcement of crimes against the United States. Individuals who only perform administrative functions in support of officers are not considered officers.
(c) Except as provided by 5 U.S.C. 8191 and 8192 and elsewhere in this part, the provisions of the FECA and of subparts A, B, and D through I of this part apply to officers.
OWCP must receive a claim for benefits under 5 U.S.C. 8191 within five years after the injury or death. This five-year limitation is not subject to waiver. The tolling provisions of 5 U.S.C. 8122(d) do not apply to these claims.
A claim for injury or occupational disease should be filed on Form CA-721; a death claim should be filed on Form CA-722. All claims should be submitted to the officer's employer for completion and forwarding to OWCP. A claim may be filed by the officer, the officer's survivor, or any person or association authorized to act on behalf of an officer or an officer's survivors.
(a) Benefits are payable when an officer is injured while apprehending, or attempting to apprehend, an individual for the commission of a Federal crime. However, either an actual Federal crime must be in progress or have been committed, or objective evidence (of which the officer is aware at the time of injury) must exist that a potential Federal crime was in progress or had already been committed. The actual or potential Federal crime must be an integral part of the criminal activity toward which the officer's actions are directed. The fact that an injury to an officer is related in some way to the commission of a Federal crime does not necessarily bring the injury within the coverage of the FECA. The FECA is not intended to cover officers who are merely enforcing local laws.
(b) For benefits to be payable when an officer is injured preventing, or attempting to prevent, a Federal crime, there must be objective evidence that a Federal crime is about to be committed. An officer's belief, unsupported by objective evidence, that he or she is acting to prevent the commission of a Federal crime will not result in coverage. Moreover, the officer's subjective intent, as measured by all available evidence (including the officer's own statements and testimony, if available), must have been directed toward the prevention of a Federal crime. In this context, an officer's own statements and testimony are relevant to, but do not control, the determination of coverage.
Based on the facts available at the time of the event, the officer must have an awareness of sufficient information which would lead a reasonable officer, under the circumstances, to conclude that a Federal crime was in progress, or was about to occur. This awareness need not extend to the precise particulars of the crime (the section of Title 18, United States Code, for example), but there must be sufficient evidence that the officer was in fact engaged in actual or attempted apprehension of a Federal criminal or prevention of a Federal crime.
(a) Where an officer is detailed by a competent State or local authority to assist a Federal law enforcement authority in the protection of the President of the United States, or any other person actually provided or entitled to U.S. Secret Service protection, coverage will be extended.
(b) Coverage for officers of the U.S. Park Police and those officers of the Uniformed Division of the U.S. Secret Service who participate in the District of Columbia Retirement System is adjudicated under the principles set forth in paragraph (a) of this section, and does not extend to numerous tangential activities of law enforcement (for example, reporting to work, changing clothes). However, officers of the Non-Uniformed Division of the U.S. Secret Service who participate in the District of Columbia Retirement System are covered under the FECA during the performance of all official duties.
(a) Except for continuation of pay, eligible officers and survivors are entitled to the same benefits as if the officer had been an employee under 5 U.S.C. 8101. However, such benefits may be reduced or adjusted as OWCP in its discretion may deem appropriate to reflect comparable benefits which the officer or survivor received or would have been entitled to receive by virtue of the officer's employment.
(b) For the purpose of this section, a comparable benefit includes any benefit that the officer or survivor is entitled to receive because of the officer's employment, including pension and disability funds, State workers' compensation payments, Public Safety Officers' Benefits Act payments, and State and local lump-sum payments. Start Printed Page 37938Health benefits coverage and proceeds of life insurance policies purchased by the employer are not considered to be comparable benefits.
(c) The FECA provides that, where an officer receives comparable benefits, compensation benefits are to be reduced proportionally in a manner that reflects the relative percentage contribution of the officer and the officer's employer to the fund which is the source of the comparable benefit. Where the source of the comparable benefit is a retirement or other system which is not fully funded, the calculation of the amount of the reduction will be based on a per capita comparison between the contribution by the employer and the contribution by all covered officers during the year prior to the officer's injury or death.
(d) The non-receipt of compensation during a period where a dual benefit (such as a lump-sum payment on the death of an officer) is being offset against compensation entitlement does not result in an adjustment of the respective benefit percentages of remaining beneficiaries because of a cessation of compensation under 5 U.S.C. 8133(c).
Subpart I—Information for Medical Providers
Medical Records and Bills
(a) All providers must enroll with OWCP or its designated bill processing agent (hereinafter OWCP in this subpart) to have access to the automated authorization system and to submit medical bills to OWCP. To enroll, the provider must complete and submit a Form OWCP-1168 to the appropriate location noted on that form. By completing and submitting this form, providers certify that they satisfy all applicable Federal and State licensure and regulatory requirements that apply to their specific provider or supplier type. The provider must maintain documentary evidence indicating that it satisfies those requirements. The provider is also required to notify OWCP immediately if any information provided to OWCP in the enrollment process changes. Agency medical officers, private physicians and hospitals are also required to keep records of all cases treated by them under the FECA so they can supply OWCP with a history of the injury, a description of the nature and extent of injury, the results of any diagnostic studies performed, the nature of the treatment rendered and the degree of any impairment and/or disability arising from the injury.
(b) Where a medical provider intends to bill for a procedure where prior authorization is required, that provider must request such authorization from OWCP.
(c) After enrollment, a provider must submit all medical bills to OWCP through its bill processing portal and include the Provider Number/ID obtained through enrollment or other identifying number required by OWCP.
(a) All charges for medical and surgical treatment, appliances or supplies furnished to injured employees, except for treatment and supplies provided by nursing homes, shall be supported by medical evidence as provided in § 10.800. OWCP may withhold payment for services until such report or evidence is provided. The physician or provider shall itemize the charges on Form OWCP-1500 or CMS-1500 (for professional services or medicinal drugs dispensed in the office), Form OWCP-04 or UB-04 (for hospitals), an electronic or paper-based bill that includes required data elements (for pharmacies) or other form as warranted and accepted by OWCP, and submit the form promptly to OWCP.
(b) The provider shall identify each service performed using the Physician's Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code, the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) code, the National Drug Code (NDC), or the Revenue Center Code (RCC) with a brief narrative description; OWCP has discretion to determine which of these codes may be utilized in the billing process. The Director also has the authority to create and supply specific procedure codes that will be used by OWCP to better describe and allow specific payments for special services. These OWCP-created codes will be issued to providers by OWCP as appropriate and may only be used as authorized by OWCP. For example, a physician conducting a referee or second opinion examination under 5 U.S.C. 8123 will be furnished an OWCP-created code; a provider may not use such an OWCP-created code for other types of medical examinations or services. Where no appropriate code is submitted to identify the services performed, the bill will be returned to the provider and/or denied.
(c) For professional charges billed on Form OWCP-1500 or CMS-1500, the provider shall also state each diagnosed condition and furnish the corresponding diagnostic code using the “International Classification of Disease, 9th Edition, Clinical Modification” (ICD-9-CM), or as revised. A separate bill shall be submitted when the employee is discharged from treatment or monthly, if treatment for the work-related condition is necessary for more than 30 days.
(1) (i) Hospitals shall submit charges for inpatient medical and surgical treatment or supplies promptly to OWCP on Form OWCP-04 or UB-04.
(ii) For outpatient billing, the provider shall identify each service performed, using Revenue Center Codes (RCCs) and HCPCS/CPT codes as warranted. The charge for each individual service, or the total charge for all identical services, should also appear on the form. OWCP may adopt an Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OWCP OPPS) (as developed and implemented by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services (CMS) for Medicare, while modifying the allowable costs under Medicare to account for deductibles and other additional costs which are covered by FECA). Once adopted, hospital providers shall submit outpatient hospital bills on the current version of the Universal Billing Form (UB) and use HCPCS codes and other coding schemes in accordance with the OWCP OPPS.
(2) Pharmacies shall itemize charges for prescription medications, appliances, or supplies on electronic or paper-based bills and submit them promptly to OWCP. Bills for prescription medications must include the NDC assigned to the product, the generic or trade name of the drug provided, the prescription number, the quantity provided, and the date the prescription was filled.
(3) Nursing homes shall itemize charges for appliances, supplies or services on the provider's billhead stationery and submit them promptly to OWCP. Such charges shall be subject to any applicable OWCP fee schedule.
(d) By submitting a bill and/or accepting payment, the provider signifies that the service for which reimbursement is sought was performed as described, necessary, appropriate and properly billed in accordance with accepted industry standards. For example, accepted industry standards preclude upcoding billed services for extended medical appointments when the employee actually had a brief routine appointment, or charging for the services of a professional when a paraprofessional or aide performed the service; industry standards prohibit unbundling services to charge separately for services that should be billed as a single charge. In addition, the provider thereby agrees to comply with all regulations set forth in this subpart concerning the rendering of treatment Start Printed Page 37939and/or the process for seeking reimbursement for medical services, including the limitation imposed on the amount to be paid for such services.
(e) In summary, bills submitted by providers must: Be itemized on the Health Insurance Claim Form (for physicians) or the OWCP-04 (for hospitals); contain the signature or signature stamp of the provider; and identify the procedures using HCPCS/CPT codes, RCCs, or NDCs. Otherwise, OWCP may deny the bill, and the provider must correct and resubmit the bill.
(a) If an employee has paid bills for medical, surgical or dental services, supplies or appliances due to an injury sustained in the performance of duty and seeks reimbursement for those expenses, he or she may submit a request for reimbursement on Form OWCP-915, together with an itemized bill on Form OWCP-1500, CMS-1500, OWCP-04 or UB-04 prepared by the provider and a medical report as provided in § 10.800, to OWCP.
(1) The provider of such service shall state each diagnosed condition and furnish the applicable ICD-9-CM code, or as revised, and identify each service performed using the applicable HCPCS/CPT code, with a brief narrative description of the service performed, or, where no code is applicable, a detailed description of that service. If no code or description is received, OWCP will deny the reimbursement request and correction and resubmission will be required.
(2) The reimbursement request must be accompanied by evidence that the provider received payment for the service from the employee and a statement of the amount paid. Acceptable evidence that payment was received includes, but is not limited to, a signed statement by the provider, a mechanical stamp or other device showing receipt of payment, a copy of the employee's canceled check (both front and back) or a copy of the employee's credit card receipt or a form indicating a balance of zero to the provider.
(b) If services were provided by a hospital, pharmacy or nursing home, the employee should submit the bill in accordance with the provisions of § 10.801(a). Any request for reimbursement must be accompanied by evidence, as described in paragraph (a) of this section, that the provider received payment for the service from the employee and a statement of the amount paid.
(c) OWCP may waive the requirements of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section if extensive delays in the filing or the adjudication of a claim make it unusually difficult for the employee to obtain the required information.
(d) OWCP will not accept copies of bills for reimbursement unless they bear the signature of the provider, with evidence of payment. Payment for medical and surgical treatment, appliances or supplies shall in general be no greater than the maximum allowable charge for such service determined by the Director, as set forth in § 10.805.
(e) An employee will be only partially reimbursed for a medical expense if the amount he or she paid to a provider for the service exceeds the maximum allowable charge set by the Director's schedule. If this happens, OWCP shall advise the employee of the maximum allowable charge for the service in question and of his or her responsibility to ask the provider to refund to the employee, or credit to the employee's account, the amount he or she paid which exceeds the maximum allowable charge. The provider may request reconsideration of the fee determination as set forth in § 10.812.
(f) If the provider fails to make appropriate refund to the employee, or to credit the employee's account, within 60 days after the employee requests a refund of any excess amount, or the date of a subsequent reconsideration decision which continues to disallow all or a portion of the appealed amount, the provider shall be subject to exclusion procedures as provided by § 10.815.
(g) If the provider does not refund to the employee or credit to his or her account the amount of money paid in excess of the charge which OWCP allows, the employee should submit documentation of the attempt to obtain such refund or credit to OWCP. OWCP may make reasonable reimbursement to the employee after reviewing the facts and circumstances of the case.
(h) If an employee seeks reimbursement for transportation costs, loss of wages or incidental expenses related to medical treatment under this part, that employee may submit such reimbursement request on the Medical Travel Refund Request OWCP-957 form to OWCP along with all proof of payment. Requests for reimbursement for lost wages under this subsection must include an official statement from the employing agency indicating the amount of wage loss.
OWCP will pay providers and reimburse employees promptly for all bills received on an approved form and in a timely manner. However, no bill will be paid for expenses incurred if the bill is submitted more than one year beyond the end of the calendar year in which the expense was incurred or the service or supply was provided, or more than one year beyond the end of the calendar year in which the claim was first accepted as compensable by OWCP, whichever is later.
Medical Fee Schedule
(a) Payment for medical and other health services, devices and supplies furnished by physicians, hospitals, and other providers for work-related injuries shall not exceed a maximum allowable charge for such service as determined by the Director, except as provided in this section.
(b) The schedule of maximum allowable charges does not apply to charges for services provided in nursing home for employees admitted to that nursing home prior to August 29, 2011, but does apply to all charges for services provided by a nursing home where the employee was admitted to that nursing home after that date. The schedule does apply to charges for treatment furnished in a nursing home by a physician or other medical professional at any time.
(c) The schedule of maximum allowable charges also does not apply to charges for appliances, supplies, services or treatment furnished by medical facilities of the U.S. Public Health Service or the Departments of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Veterans Affairs.
For professional medical services, the Director shall maintain a schedule of maximum allowable fees for procedures performed in a given locality. The schedule shall consist of: An assignment of Relative Value Units (RVU) to procedures identified by Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System/Current Procedural Terminology (HCPCS/CPT) code which represents the relative skill, effort, risk and time required to perform the procedure, as compared to other procedures of the same general class; an assignment of Geographic Practice Cost Index (GPCI) values which represent the relative work, practice expenses and malpractice expenses relative to other localities throughout the country; and a monetary Start Printed Page 37940value assignment (conversion factor) for one unit of value for each coded service.
Payment for a procedure, service or device identified by a HCPCS/CPT code shall not exceed the amount derived by multiplying the Relative Value Units (RVU) values for that procedure by the Geographic Practice Cost Index (GPCI) values for services in that area and by the conversion factor to arrive at a dollar amount assigned to one unit in that category of service.
(a) The “locality” which serves as a basis for the determination of cost is defined by the Office of Management and Budget Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The Director shall base the determination of the relative per capita cost of medical care in a locality using information about enrollment and medical cost per county, provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
(b) The Director shall assign the RVUs published by CMS to all services for which CMS has made assignments, using the most recent revision. Where there are no RVUs assigned to a procedure, the Director may develop and assign any RVUs that he or she considers appropriate. The geographic adjustment factor shall be that designated by GPCI for Metropolitan Statistical Areas as devised for CMS and as updated or revised by CMS from time to time. The Director will devise conversion factors for each category of service as appropriate using OWCP's processing experience and internal data.
(c) For example, if the RVUs for a particular surgical procedure are 2.48 for physician's work (W), 3.63 for practice expense (PE), and 0.48 for malpractice insurance (MP), and the conversion factor assigned to one unit in that category of service (surgery) is $61.20, then the maximum allowable charge for one performance of that procedure is the product of the three RVUs times the corresponding GPCI values for the locality times the conversion factor. If the GPCI values for the locality are 0.988(W), 0.948 (PE), and 1.174 (MP), then the maximum payment calculation is:
[(2.48)(0.988) + (3.63)(0.948) + (0.48)(1.174)] × $61.20
[2.45 + 3.44 + .56] × $61.20
6.45 × $61.20 = $394.74
Where the time, effort and skill required to perform a particular procedure vary widely from one occasion to the next, the Director may choose not to assign a relative value to that procedure. In this case the allowable charge for the procedure will be set individually based on consideration of a detailed medical report and other evidence. At its discretion, OWCP may set fees without regard to schedule limits for specially authorized consultant examinations, for examinations performed under 5 U.S.C. 8123, and for other specially authorized services.
Payment for medicinal drugs prescribed by physicians shall not exceed the amount derived by multiplying the average wholesale price, or as otherwise specified by OWCP, of the medication by the quantity or amount provided, plus a dispensing fee. OWCP may, in its discretion, contract for or require the use of specific providers for certain medications.
(a) All prescription medications identified by National Drug Code (NDC) will be assigned an average wholesale price representing the product's nationally recognized wholesale price as determined by surveys of manufacturers and wholesalers, or by other method designated by OWCP. The Director will establish the dispensing fee, which will not be affected by the location or type of provider dispensing the medication.
(b) The NDCs, the average wholesale prices, and the dispensing fee shall be reviewed from time to time and updated as necessary.
(c) With respect to prescribed medications, OWCP may require the use of generic equivalents where they are available.
(a) OWCP will pay for inpatient medical services according to pre-determined, condition-specific rates based on the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) devised by CMS (42 CFR parts 412, 413, 424, 485, and 489). Using this system, payment is derived by multiplying the diagnosis-related group (DRG) weight assigned to the hospital discharge by the provider-specific factors.
(1) All inpatient hospital discharges will be classified according to the DRGs prescribed by the CMS in the form of the DRG Grouper software program. Each DRG represents the average resources necessary to provide care in a case in that DRG relative to the national average of resources consumed per case.
(2) The provider-specific factors will be provided by CMS in the form of their PPS Pricer software program. The software takes into consideration the type of facility, census division, actual geographic location (MSA) of the hospital, case mix cost per discharge, number of hospital beds, intern/beds ratio, operating cost to charge ratio, and other factors used by CMS to determine the specific rate for a hospital discharge under their PPS. The Director may devise price adjustment factors as appropriate using OWCP's processing experience and internal data.
(3) OWCP will base payments to facilities excluded from CMS' IPPS on consideration of detailed medical reports and other evidence.
(4) The Director shall review the pre-determined hospital rates at least once a year, and may adjust any or all components when he or she deems it necessary or appropriate.
(b) The Director shall review the schedule of fees at least once a year, and may adjust the schedule or any of its components when he or she deems it necessary or appropriate.
(a) OWCP accepts a provider's designation of the code used to identify a billed procedure or service if the code is consistent with the medical and other evidence, and will pay no more than the maximum allowable fee for that procedure. If the code is not consistent with the medical evidence or where no code is supplied, the bill will be returned to the provider for correction and resubmission.
(b) If the charge submitted for a service supplied to an injured employee exceeds the maximum amount determined to be reasonable according to the schedule, OWCP shall pay the amount allowed by the schedule for that service and shall notify the provider in writing that payment was reduced for that service in accordance with the schedule. OWCP shall also notify the provider of the method for requesting reconsideration of the balance of the charge.
(a) A physician or other provider whose charge for service is only partially paid because it exceeds a maximum allowable amount set by the Director may, within 30 days, request reconsideration of the fee determination.
(1) The provider should make such a request to the OWCP district office with jurisdiction over the employee's claim. The request must be accompanied by documentary evidence that the procedure performed was incorrectly Start Printed Page 37941identified by the original code, that the presence of a severe or concomitant medical condition made treatment especially difficult, or that the provider possessed unusual qualifications. In itself, board-certification in a specialty is not sufficient evidence of unusual qualifications to justify an exception. These are the only three circumstances which will justify reevaluation of the paid amount.
(2) A list of OWCP district offices and their respective areas of jurisdiction is available upon request from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, Washington, DC 20210, or from the Internet at http://www.dol.gov./owcp. Within 30 days of receiving the request for reconsideration, the OWCP district office shall respond in writing stating whether or not an additional amount will be allowed as reasonable, considering the evidence submitted.
(b) If the OWCP district office issues a decision which continues to disallow a contested amount, the provider may apply to the Regional Director of the region with jurisdiction over the OWCP district office. The application must be filed within 30 days of the date of such decision, and it may be accompanied by additional evidence. Within 60 days of receipt of such application, the Regional Director shall issue a decision in writing stating whether or not an additional amount will be allowed as reasonable, considering the evidence submitted. This decision shall be final, and shall not be subject to further review.
A provider whose fee for service is partially paid by OWCP as a result of the application of its fee schedule or other tests for reasonableness in accordance with this part shall not request reimbursement from the employee for additional amounts.
(a) Where a provider's fee for a particular service or procedure is lower to the general public than as provided by the schedule of maximum allowable charges, the provider shall bill at the lower rate. A fee for a particular service or procedure which is higher than the provider's fee to the general public for that same service or procedure will be considered a charge “substantially in excess of such provider's customary charges” for the purposes of § 10.815(d).
(b) A provider whose fee for service is partially paid by OWCP as the result of the application of the schedule of maximum allowable charges and who collects or attempts to collect from the employee, either directly or through a collection agent, any amount in excess of the charge allowed by OWCP, and who does not cease such action or make appropriate refund to the employee within 60 days of the date of the decision of OWCP, shall be subject to the exclusion procedures provided by § 10.815(h).
Exclusion of Providers
A physician, hospital, or provider of medical services, appliances or supplies shall be excluded from payment under the FECA if such physician, hospital or provider has:
(a) Been convicted under any criminal statute of fraudulent activities in connection with any Federal or State program for which payments are made to providers for similar medical, surgical or hospital services, appliances or supplies;
(b) Been excluded or suspended, or has resigned in lieu of exclusion or suspension, from participation in any Federal or State program referred to in paragraph (a) of this section;
(c) Knowingly made, or caused to be made, any false statement or misrepresentation of a material fact in connection with a determination of the right to reimbursement under the FECA, or in connection with a request for payment;
(d) Submitted, or caused to be submitted, three or more bills or requests for payment within a twelve-month period under this subpart containing charges which OWCP finds to be substantially in excess of such provider's customary charges, unless OWCP finds there is good cause for the bills or requests containing such charges;
(e) Knowingly failed to timely reimburse employees for treatment, services or supplies furnished under this subpart and paid for by OWCP;
(f) Failed, neglected or refused on three or more occasions during a 12-month period to submit full and accurate medical reports, or to respond to requests by OWCP for additional reports or information, as required by the FECA and § 10.800;
(g) Knowingly furnished treatment, services or supplies which are substantially in excess of the employee's needs, or of a quality which fails to meet professionally recognized standards; or
(h) Collected or attempted to collect from the employee, either directly or through a collection agent, an amount in excess of the charge allowed by OWCP for the procedure performed, and has failed or refused to make appropriate refund to the employee, or to cease such collection attempts, within 60 days of the date of the decision of OWCP.
(i) Failed to inform OWCP of any change in their provider status as required in section 10.800 of this title.
(j) Engaged in conduct related to care of an employee's FECA covered injury that OWCP finds to be misleading, deceptive or unfair.
(a) OWCP shall automatically exclude a physician, hospital, or provider of medical services or supplies who has been convicted of a crime described in § 10.815(a), or has been excluded or suspended, or has resigned in lieu of exclusion or suspension, from participation in any program as described in § 10.815(b).
(b) The exclusion applies to participating in the program and to seeking payment under the FECA for services performed after the date of the entry of the judgment of conviction or order of exclusion, suspension or resignation, as the case may be, by the court or agency concerned. Proof of the conviction, exclusion, suspension or resignation may consist of a copy thereof authenticated by the seal of the court or agency concerned.
(c) A provider may be excluded on a voluntary basis at any time.
(a) Upon receipt of information indicating that a physician, hospital or provider of medical services or supplies (hereinafter the provider) has or may have engaged in activities enumerated in § 10.815(c) through (j) OWCP will forward that information to the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General (DOL OIG) for its consideration. If the information was provided directly to DOL OIG, DOL OIG will notify OWCP of its receipt and implement the appropriate action within its authority, unless such notification will or may compromise the identity of confidential sources, or compromise or prejudice an ongoing or potential criminal investigation.
(b) DOL OIG will conduct such action as it deems necessary, and, when appropriate, provide a written report as described in paragraph (c) of this section to OWCP. OWCP will then determine whether to initiate procedures to exclude the provider from participation in the FECA program. If DOL OIG determines not to take any further action, it will promptly notify OWCP.
(c) If DOL OIG discovers reasonable cause to believe that violations of Start Printed Page 37942§ 10.815 have occurred, it shall, when appropriate, prepare a written report, i.e., investigative memorandum, and forward that report along with supporting evidence to OWCP. The report shall be in the form of a single memorandum in narrative form with attachments.
(1) The report should contain all of the following elements:
(i) A brief description and explanation of the subject provider or providers;
(ii) A concise statement of the DOL OIG's findings upon which exclusion may be based;
(iii) A summary of the events that make up the DOL OIG's findings;
(iv) A discussion of the documentation supporting the DOL OIG's findings;
(v) A discussion of any other information that may have bearing upon the exclusion process; and
(vi) The supporting documentary evidence including any expert opinion rendered in the case.
(2) The attachments to the report should be provided in a manner that they may be easily referenced from the report.
Following receipt of the investigative report, OWCP will determine if there exists a reasonable basis to exclude the provider or providers. If OWCP determines that such a basis exists, OWCP shall initiate the exclusion process by sending the provider a letter, by certified mail and with return receipt requested (or equivalent service from a commercial carrier), which shall contain the following:
(a) A concise statement of the grounds upon which exclusion shall be based;
(b) A summary of the information, with supporting documentation, upon which OWCP has relied in reaching an initial decision that exclusion proceedings should begin;
(c) An invitation to the provider to:
(1) Resign voluntarily from eligibility for providing services under this part without admitting or denying the allegations presented in the letter; or
(2) Request a decision on exclusion based upon the existing record and any additional documentary information the provider may wish to furnish;
(d) A notice of the provider's right, in the event of an adverse ruling by the deciding official, to request a formal hearing before an administrative law judge;
(e) A notice that should the provider fail to answer (as described in § 10.819) the letter of intent within 60 days of receipt, the deciding official may deem the allegations made therein to be true and may order exclusion of the provider without conducting any further proceedings; and
(f) The address to where the answer from the provider should be sent.
(a) The provider's answer shall be in writing and shall include an answer to OWCP's invitation to resign voluntarily. If the provider does not offer to resign, he or she shall request that a determination be made upon the existing record and any additional information provided.
(b) Should the provider fail to answer the letter of intent within 60 days of receipt, the deciding official may deem the allegations made therein to be true and may order exclusion of the provider.
(c) The provider may inspect or request copies of information in the record at any time prior to the deciding official's decision by making such request to OWCP within 20 days of receipt of the letter of intent.
(d) Any response from the provider will be forwarded to DOL OIG, which shall have 30 days to answer the provider's response. That answer will be forwarded to the provider, who shall then have 15 days to reply.
(e) The deciding official shall be the Regional Director in the region in which the provider is located unless otherwise specified by the Director of the Division of Federal Employees' Compensation.
(f) The deciding official shall issue his or her decision in writing, and shall send a copy of the decision to the provider by certified mail, return receipt requested (or equivalent service from a commercial carrier). The decision shall advise the provider of his or her right to request, within 30 days of the date of an adverse decision, a formal hearing before an administrative law judge under the procedures set forth in §§ 10.820 through 10.823. The filing of a request for a hearing within the time specified shall stay the effectiveness of the decision to exclude.
A request for a hearing shall be sent to the deciding official and shall contain:
(a) A concise notice of the issues on which the provider desires to give evidence at the hearing;
(b) Any request for the presentation of oral argument or evidence; and
(c) Any request for a certification of questions concerning professional medical standards, medical ethics or medical regulation for an advisory opinion from a competent recognized professional organization or Federal, State or local regulatory body.
(a) If the deciding official receives a timely request for hearing, the OWCP representative shall refer the matter to the Chief Administrative Law Judge of the Department of Labor, who shall assign it for an expedited hearing. The administrative law judge assigned to the matter shall consider the request for hearing, act on all requests therein, and issue a Notice of Hearing and Hearing Schedule for the conduct of the hearing. A copy of the hearing notice shall be served on the provider by certified mail, return receipt requested. The Notice of Hearing and Hearing Schedule shall include:
(1) A ruling on each item raised in the request for hearing;
(2) A schedule for the prompt disposition of all preliminary matters, including requests for the certification of questions to advisory bodies; and
(3) A scheduled hearing date not less than 30 days after the date the schedule is issued, and not less than 15 days after the scheduled conclusion of preliminary matters, provided that the specific time and place of the hearing may be set on 10 days' notice.
(b) The provider is entitled to be heard on any matter placed in issue by his or her response to the Notice of Intent to Exclude, and may designate “all issues” for purposes of hearing. However, a specific designation of issues is required if the provider wishes to interpose affirmative defenses, or request the issuance of subpoenas or the certification of questions for an advisory opinion.
(a) The provider may apply to the administrative law judge for the issuance of subpoenas upon a showing of good cause therefor.
(b) A certification of a request for an advisory opinion concerning professional medical standards, medical ethics or medical regulation to a competent recognized or professional organization or Federal, State or local regulatory agency may be made:
(1) As to an issue properly designated by the provider, in the sound discretion of the administrative law judge, provided that the request will not unduly delay the proceedings;
(2) By OWCP on its own motion either before or after the institution of Start Printed Page 37943proceedings, and the results thereof shall be made available to the provider at the time that proceedings are instituted or, if after the proceedings are instituted, within a reasonable time after receipt. The opinion, if rendered by the organization or agency, is advisory only and not binding on the administrative law judge.
(a) To the extent appropriate, proceedings before the administrative law judge shall be governed by 29 CFR part 18.
(b) The administrative law judge shall receive such relevant evidence as may be adduced at the hearing. Parties to the hearing are the provider and OWCP. Evidence shall be presented under oath, orally or in the form of written statements. The administrative law judge shall consider the Notice and Response, including all pertinent documents accompanying them, and may also consider any evidence which refers to the provider or to any claim with respect to which the provider has provided medical services, hospital services, or medical services and supplies, and such other evidence as the administrative law judge may determine to be necessary or useful in evaluating the matter.
(c) All hearings shall be recorded and the original of the complete transcript shall become a permanent part of the official record of the proceedings.
(e) At the conclusion of the hearing, the administrative law judge shall issue a recommended decision and cause it to be served on all parties to the proceeding, their representatives and the Director of OWCP.
(a) Within 30 days from the date the recommended decision is issued, each party may state, in writing, whether the party objects to the recommended decision. This written statement should be filed with the Director of OWCP.
(b) For purposes of determining whether the written statement referred to in paragraph (a) of this section has been timely filed with the Director, the statement will be considered to be “filed” on the date that the provider mails it to the Director, as determined by postmark or the date that such written statement is actually received by the Director, whichever is earlier.
(c) Written statements objecting to the recommended decision may be filed upon one or more of the following grounds:
(1) A finding or conclusion of material fact is not supported by substantial evidence;
(2) A necessary legal conclusion is erroneous;
(3) The decision is contrary to law or to the duly promulgated rules or decisions of the Director;
(4) A substantial question of law, policy, or discretion is involved; or
(5) A prejudicial error of procedure was committed.
(d) Each issue shall be separately numbered and plainly and concisely stated, and shall be supported by detailed citations to the record when assignments of error are based on the record, and by statutes, regulations or principal authorities relied upon. Except for good cause shown, no assignment of error by any party shall rely on any question of fact or law upon which the administrative law judge had not been afforded an opportunity to pass.
(e) If a written statement of objection is filed within the allotted period of time, the Director will review the objection. The Director will forward the written objection to the DOL OIG, which will have 14 calendar days from that date to respond. Any response from DOL OIG will be forwarded to the provider, which will have 14 calendar days from that date to reply.
(f) The Director of OWCP will consider the recommended decision, the written record and any response or reply received and will then issue a written, final decision either upholding or reversing the exclusion.
(g) If no written statement of objection is filed within the allotted period of time, the Director of OWCP will issue a written, final decision accepting the recommendation of the administrative law judge.
(h) The decision of the Director of OWCP shall be final with respect to the provider's participation in the program, and shall not be subject to further review by any court or agency.
(a) OWCP may give notice of the exclusion of a physician, hospital or provider of medical services or supplies:
(1) All OWCP district offices;
(2) All Federal employers;
(3) The CMS;
(4) The State or local authority responsible for licensing or certifying the excluded party.
(b) Notwithstanding any exclusion of a physician, hospital, or provider of medical services or supplies under this subpart, OWCP shall not refuse an employee reimbursement for any otherwise reimbursable medical treatment, service or supply if:
(1) Such treatment, service or supply was rendered in an emergency by an excluded physician; or
(2) The employee could not reasonably have been expected to have known of such exclusion.
(c) An employee who is notified that his or her attending physician has been excluded shall have a new right to select a qualified physician.
(a) If a physician, hospital, or provider of medical services or supplies has been automatically excluded pursuant to § 10.816, the provider excluded will automatically be reinstated upon notice to OWCP that the conviction or exclusion which formed the basis of the automatic exclusion has been reversed or withdrawn. However, an automatic reinstatement shall not preclude OWCP from instituting exclusion proceedings based upon the underlying facts of the matter.
(b) A physician, hospital, or provider of medical services or supplies excluded from participation as a result of an order issued pursuant to this subpart may apply for reinstatement one year after the entry of the order of exclusion, unless the order expressly provides for a shorter period. An application for reinstatement shall be addressed to the Director for Federal Employees' Compensation, and shall contain a concise statement of the basis for the application. The application should be accompanied by supporting documents and affidavits.
(c) A request for reinstatement may be accompanied by a request for an oral presentation. Oral presentations will be allowed only in unusual circumstances where it will materially aid the decision process.
(d) The Director of OWCP shall order reinstatement only in instances where such reinstatement is clearly consistent with the goal of this subpart to protect the FECA program against fraud and abuse. To satisfy this requirement the provider must provide reasonable assurances that the basis for the exclusion will not be repeated.
Subpart J—Death Gratuity
(a) The death gratuity authorized by 5 U.S.C. 8102a and payable pursuant to the provisions of this subpart is a Start Printed Page 37944payment to a claimant who is an eligible survivor (as defined in §§ 10.906 and 10.907) or a designated alternate beneficiary (as defined in §§ 10.908 and 10.909) of an employee who dies of injuries incurred in connection with the employee's service with an Armed Force in a contingency operation. This payment was authorized by section 1105 of Public Law 110-181 (2008). For the purposes of this subchapter, the term “Armed Force” means the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.
(b) This death gratuity payment is a FECA benefit, as defined by § 10.5(a) of this part. All the provisions and definitions in this part apply to claims for payment under this subpart unless otherwise specified.
For purposes of this subpart, the term “employee” means all employees defined in 5 U.S.C. 8101 and § 10.5 of this part and all non-appropriated fund instrumentality employees as defined in 10 U.S.C. 1587(a)(1).
Yes. All such deaths that occur on or after January 28, 2008 (the date of enactment of Public Law 110-181 (2008)) qualify for the death gratuity administered by this subpart.
An employee's death qualifies for the death gratuity if the employee died on or after October 7, 2001, and before January 28, 2008, if the death was a result of injuries incurred in connection with the employee's service with an Armed Force in the theater of operations of Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Yes—throughout this subpart, the word “injury” is defined as it is in 5 U.S.C. 8101(5), which includes a disease proximately caused by employment. If an employee's death results from an occupational disease incurred in connection with the employee's service in a contingency operation, the death qualifies for payment of the death gratuity under this subpart.
Yes—as long as the employee's death is a result of injuries incurred in connection with the employee's service with an Armed Force in a contingency operation, the death qualifies for the death gratuity of this subpart regardless of how long after the injury the employee's death occurs.
For the purposes of paying the death gratuity to eligible survivors under this subpart, OWCP will use the following definitions:
(a) “Surviving spouse” means the person who was legally married to the deceased employee at the time of his or her death.
(b) “Children” means, without regard to age or marital status, the deceased employee's natural children and adopted children. It also includes any stepchildren who were a part of the decedent's household at the time of death.
(1) A stepchild will be considered part of the decedent's household if the decedent and the stepchild share the same principal place of abode in the year prior to the decedent's death. The decedent and stepchild will be considered as part of the same household notwithstanding temporary absences due to special circumstances such as illness, education, business travel, vacation travel, military service, or a written custody agreement under which the stepchild is absent from the employee's household for less than 180 days of the year.
(2) A natural child who is an illegitimate child of a male decedent is included in the definition of “children” under this subpart if:
(i) The child has been acknowledged in writing signed by the decedent;
(ii) The child has been judicially determined, before the decedent's death, to be his child;
(iii) The child has been otherwise proved, by evidence satisfactory to the employing agency, to be the decedent's child; or
(iv) The decedent had been judicially ordered to contribute to the child's support.
(c) “Parent” or “parents” mean the deceased employee's natural father and mother or father and mother through adoption. It also includes persons who stood in loco parentis to the decedent for a period of not less than one year at any time before the decedent became an employee.
(1) A person stood in loco parentis when the person assumed the status of parent toward the deceased employee. (Any person who takes a child of another into his or her home and treats the child as a member of his or her family, providing parental supervision, support, and education as if the child were his or her own child, will be considered to stand in loco parentis.)
(2) Only one father and one mother, or their counterparts in loco parentis, may be recognized in any case.
(3) Preference will be given to those who exercised a parental relationship on the date, or most nearly before the date, on which the decedent became an employee.
(d) “Brother” and “sister” mean any person, without regard to age or marital status, who is a natural brother or sister of the decedent, a half-brother or half-sister, or a brother or sister through adoption. Step-brothers or step-sisters of the decedent are not considered a “brother” or a “sister.”
If OWCP determines that an employee's death qualifies for the death gratuity, the FECA provides that the death gratuity payment will be disbursed to the living survivor(s) highest on the following list:
(a) The employee's surviving spouse.
(b) The employee's children, in equal shares.
(c) The employee's parents, brothers, and sisters, or any combination of them, if designated by the employee pursuant to the designation procedures in § 10.909.
(d) The employee's parents, in equal shares.
(e) The employee's brothers and sisters, in equal shares.
An employee may designate another person or persons to receive not more than 50 percent of the death gratuity payment pursuant to the designation procedures in § 10.909. Only living persons, rather than trusts, corporations or other legal entities, may be designated under this subsection. The balance of the death gratuity will be paid according to the order of precedence described in § 10.907.
(a) Form CA-40 must be used to make a variation in the order or percentages of survivors under § 10.907 and/or to make an alternate beneficiary designation under § 10.908. A designation may be made at any time before the employee's death, regardless of the time of injury. The form will not be valid unless it is signed by the employee and received and signed prior to the death of the employee by the supervisor of the employee or by another official of the employing agency authorized to do so.
(b) Alternatively, any paper executed prior to the effective date of this regulation that specifies an alternate beneficiary of the death gratuity payment will serve as a valid designation if it is in writing, completed before the employee's death, signed by the employee, and signed prior to the death of the employee by the supervisor of the employee or by another official of the employing agency authorized to do so.
(c) If an employee makes a survivor designation under § 10.907(c), but does not designate the portions to be received by each designated survivor, the death gratuity will be disbursed to the survivors in equal shares.
(d) An alternate beneficiary designation made under § 10.908 must indicate the percentage of the death gratuity, in 10 percent increments up to the maximum of 50 percent, that the designated person(s) will receive. No more than five alternate beneficiaries may be designated. If the designation fails to indicate the percentage to be paid to an alternate beneficiary, the designation to that person will be invalid.
(a) If a person entitled to all or a portion of the death gratuity due to the order of precedence for survivors in § 10.907 dies after the death of the covered employee but before the person receives the death gratuity, the portion will be paid to the living survivors otherwise eligible according to the order of precedence prescribed in that subsection.
(b) If a survivor designated under the survivor designation provision in § 10.907(c) dies after the death of the covered employee but before receiving his or her portion of the death gratuity, the survivor's designated portion will be paid to the next living survivors according to the order of precedence.
(c) If a person designated as an alternate beneficiary under § 10.908 dies after the death of the covered employee but before the person receives his or her designated portion of the death gratuity, the designation to that person will have no effect. The portion designated to that person will be paid according to the order of precedence prescribed in § 10.907.
(d) If there are no living survivors or alternate beneficiaries, the death gratuity will not be paid.
(a) Either the employing agency or a living claimant (survivor or alternate beneficiary) may initiate the death gratuity payment process. If the death gratuity payment process is initiated by the employing agency notifying OWCP of the employee's death, each claimant must file a claim with OWCP in order to receive payment of the death gratuity. The legal representative or guardian of any minor child may file on the child's behalf. Alternatively, if a claimant initiates the death gratuity payment process by filing a claim, the employing agency must complete a death notification form and submit it to OWCP. Other claimants must also file a claim for their portion of the death gratuity.
(b) The employing agency must notify OWCP immediately upon learning of an employee's death that may be eligible for benefits under this subpart, by submitting form CA-42 to OWCP. The agency must also submit to OWCP any designation forms completed by the employee, and the agency must provide as much information as possible about any living survivors or alternate beneficiaries of which the agency is aware.
(1) OWCP will then contact any living survivor(s) or alternate beneficiary(ies) it is able to identify.
(2) OWCP will furnish claim form CA-41 to any identified survivor(s) or alternate beneficiary(ies) and OWCP will provide information to them explaining how to file a claim for the death gratuity.
(c) Alternatively, any claimant may file a claim for death gratuity benefits with OWCP. Form CA-41 may be used for this purpose. The claimant will be required to provide any information that he or she has regarding any other beneficiaries who may be entitled to the death gratuity payment. The claimant must disclose, in addition to the Social Security number (SSN) of the deceased employee, the SSNs (if known) and all known contact information of all other possible claimants who may be eligible to receive the death gratuity payment. The claimant must also identify, if known, the agency that employed the deceased employee when he or she incurred the injury that caused his or her death. OWCP will then contact the employing agency and notify the agency that it must complete and submit form CA-42 for the employee. OWCP will also contact any other living survivor(s) or alternate beneficiary(ies) it is able to identify, furnish to them claim form CA-41, and provide information explaining how to file a claim for the death gratuity.
(d) If a claimant submits a claim for the death gratuity to an employing agency, the agency must promptly transmit the claim to OWCP. This includes both claim forms CA-41 and any other claim or paper submitted which appears to claim compensation on account of the employee's death.
Claim form CA-41 describes the basic requirements. Much of the required information will be provided by the employing agency when it completes notification form CA-42. However, the claimant bears the burden of proof to ensure that OWCP has the evidence needed to establish the claim. OWCP may send any request for additional evidence to the claimant and to his or her representative, if any. Evidence should be submitted in writing. The evidence submitted must be reliable, probative, and substantial. Each claim for the death gratuity must establish the following before OWCP can pay the gratuity:
(a) That the claim was filed within the time limits specified by the FECA, as prescribed in 5 U.S.C. 8122 and this part. Timeliness is based on the date that the claimant filed the claim for the death gratuity under § 10.911, not the date the employing agency submitted form CA-42. As procedures for accepting and paying retroactive claims were not available prior to the publication of the interim final rule, the applicable statute of limitations began to run for a retroactive payment under this subpart on August 18, 2009.
(b) That the injured person, at the time he or she incurred the injury or disease, was an employee of the United States as defined in 5 U.S.C. 8101(1) and § 10.5(h) of this part, or a non-appropriated fund instrumentality employee, as defined in 10 U.S.C. 1587(a)(1).Start Printed Page 37946
(c) That the injury or disease occurred and that the employee's death was causally related to that injury or disease. The death certificate of the employee must be provided. Often, the employing agency will provide the death certificate and any needed medical documentation. OWCP may request from the claimant any additional documentation that may be needed to establish the claim.
(d) That the employee incurred the injury or disease in connection with the employee's service with an Armed Force in a contingency operation. This will be determined from evidence provided by the employing agency or otherwise obtained by OWCP and from any evidence provided by the claimant.
(1) Section 8102a defines “contingency operation” to include humanitarian operations, peacekeeping operations, and similar operations. (“Similar operations” will be determined by OWCP.)
(i) A “contingency operation” is defined by 10 U.S.C. 101(a)(13) as a military operation that—
(A) Is designated by the Secretary of Defense as an operation in which members of the armed forces are or may become involved in military actions, operations, or hostilities against an enemy of the United States or against an opposing military force; or
(B) Results in the call or order to, or retention on, active duty of members of the uniformed services under section 688, 12301(a), 12302, 12304, 12305, or 12406 of Title 10, chapter 15 of Title 10, or any other provision of law during a war or during a national emergency declared by the President or Congress.
(ii) A “humanitarian or peacekeeping operation” is defined by 10 U.S.C. 2302(8) as a military operation in support of the provision of humanitarian or foreign disaster assistance or in support of a peacekeeping operation under chapter VI or VII of the Charter of the United Nations. The term does not include routine training, force rotation, or stationing.
(iii) “Humanitarian assistance” is defined by 10 U.S.C. 401(e) to mean medical, surgical, dental, and veterinary care provided in areas of a country that are rural or are underserved by medical, surgical, dental, and veterinary professionals, respectively, including education, training, and technical assistance related to the care provided; construction of rudimentary surface transportation systems; well drilling and construction of basic sanitation facilities; rudimentary construction and repair of public facilities.
(2) A contingency operation may take place within the United States or abroad. However, operations of the National Guard are only considered “contingency operations” for purposes of this subpart when the President, Secretary of the Army, or Secretary of the Air Force calls the members of the National Guard into service. A “contingency operation” does not include operations of the National Guard when called into service by a Governor of a State.
(3) To show that the injury or disease was incurred “in connection with” the employee's service with an Armed Force in a contingency operation, the claim must show that the employee incurred the injury or disease while in the performance of duty as that phrase is defined for the purposes of otherwise awarding benefits under FECA.
(4)(i) When the contingency operation occurs outside of the United States, OWCP will find that an employee's injury or disease was incurred “in connection with” the employee's service with an Armed Force in a contingency operation if the employee incurred the injury or disease while performing assignments in the same region as the operation, unless there is conclusive evidence that the employee's service was not supporting the Armed Force's operation.
(ii) Economic or social development projects, including service on Provincial Reconstruction Teams, undertaken by covered employees in regions where an Armed Force is engaged in a contingency operation will be considered to be supporting the Armed Force's operation.
(5) To show that an employee's injury or disease was incurred “in connection with” the employee's service with an Armed Force in a contingency operation, the claimant will be required to establish that the employee's service was supporting the Armed Force's operation. The death gratuity does not cover Federal employees who are performing service within the United States that is not supporting activity being performed by an Armed Force.
(e) The claimant must establish his or her relationship to the deceased employee so that OWCP can determine whether the claimant is the survivor entitled to receive the death gratuity payment according to the order of precedence prescribed in § 10.907.
(a) OWCP will consider that an employee incurred injury in connection with service with an Armed Force in a contingency operation if:
(1) The employee incurred injury while serving under the direction or supervision of an official of an Armed Force conducting a contingency operation; or
(2) The employee incurred injury while riding with members of an Armed Force in a vehicle or other conveyance deployed to further an Armed Force's objectives in a contingency operation.
(b) An employee may incur injury in connection with service with an Armed Force in a contingency operation in situations other than those listed above. Additional situations will be determined by OWCP on a case-by-case basis.
Because some of the information needed to establish a claim under this subpart will not be readily available to the claimants, the employing agency of the deceased employee has significant responsibilities in the death gratuity claim process. These responsibilities are as follows:
(a) The agency must completely fill out form CA-42 immediately upon learning of an employee's death that may be eligible for benefits under this subpart. The agency must complete form CA-42 as promptly as possible if notified by OWCP that a survivor filed a claim based on the employee's death. The agency should provide as much information as possible regarding the circumstances of the employee's injury and his or her assigned duties at the time of the injury, so that OWCP can determine whether the injury was incurred in the performance of duty and whether the employee was performing service in connection with an Armed Force in a contingency operation at the time.
(b) The employing agency must promptly transmit any form CA-41s received from claimants to OWCP. The employer must also promptly transmit to OWCP any other claim or paper submitted that appears to claim compensation on account of the employee's death.
(c) The employing agency must maintain any designations completed by the employee and signed by a representative of the agency in the Start Printed Page 37947employee's official personnel file or a related system of records. The agency must forward any such forms to OWCP if the agency submits form CA-42 notifying OWCP of the employee's death. The agency must also forward any other paper signed by the employee and employing agency that appears to make designations of the death gratuity.
(d) If requested by OWCP, the employing agency must determine whether a survivor, who is claiming the death gratuity based on his or her status as an illegitimate child of a deceased male employee, has offered satisfactory evidence to show that he or she is in fact the employee's child.
(e) The employing agency must notify OWCP of any other death gratuity payments under any other law of the United States for which the employee's death qualifies. The employing agency also must notify OWCP of any other death gratuity payments that have been paid based on the employee's death.
(f) Non-appropriated fund instrumentalities must fulfill the same requirements under this subpart as any other employing agency.
(a) If the death gratuity payment process is initiated by the employing agency's submission of form CA-42, OWCP will identify living potential claimants. OWCP will make a reasonable effort to provide claim form CA-41s to any known potential claimants and provide instructions on how to file a claim for the death gratuity payment.
(b) If the death gratuity payment process is initiated by a claimant's submission of a claim, OWCP will contact the employing agency and prompt it to submit form CA-42. OWCP will then review the information provided by both the claim and form CA-42, and OWCP will attempt to identify all living survivors or alternate beneficiaries who may be eligible for payment of the gratuity.
(c) If OWCP determines that the evidence is not sufficient to meet the claimant's burden of proof, OWCP will notify the claimant of the additional evidence needed. The claimant will be allowed at least 30 days to submit the additional evidence required. OWCP may also request additional information from the employing agency.
(d) OWCP will review the information provided by the claimant and information provided by the employing agency to determine whether the claim satisfies all the requirements listed in § 10.912.
(e) OWCP will calculate the amount of the death gratuity payment and pay the beneficiaries as soon as possible after accepting the claim.
The death gratuity payment under this subpart equals $100,000 minus the amount of any death gratuity payments that have been paid under any other law of the United States based on the same death. A death gratuity payment is a payment in the nature of a gift, beyond reimbursement for death and funeral expenses, relocation costs, or other similar death benefits. Only other death gratuity payments will reduce the amount of the death gratuity provided in this subpart. For this reason, death benefits provided to the same employee's survivors such as those under 5 U.S.C. 8133 as well as benefits paid under 5 U.S.C. 8134 are not death gratuity payments, and therefore have no effect on the amount of the death gratuity provided under this subpart.
(a) A payment provided under section 413 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (22 U.S.C. 3973), is a death gratuity payment, and if a deceased employee's survivors received that payment for the employee's death, the amount of the death gratuity paid to the survivors under this subpart would be reduced by the amount of the Foreign Service Act death gratuity. Other death gratuities that would affect the calculation of the amount payable include but are not limited to: the gratuity provision in section 1603 of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery, 2006 (Pub. L. 109-234, June 15, 2006); the $10,000 death gratuity to the personal representative of civilian employees, at Title VI, Section 651 of the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-208, September 30, 1996); the death gratuity for members of the Armed Forces or any employee of the Department of Defense dying outside the United States while assigned to intelligence duties, at 10 U.S.C. 1489; and the death gratuity for employees of the Central Intelligence Agency, at 50 U.S.C. 403k.
(b) The amount of the death gratuity under this section will be calculated before it is disbursed to the employee's survivors or alternate beneficiaries, by taking into account any death gratuities paid by the time of disbursement. Therefore, any designations made by the employee under § 10.909 are only applicable to the amount of the death gratuity as described in paragraph (a) of this section. The following examples are intended to provide guidance in this administration of this subpart.
(1) Example One. An employee's survivors are entitled to the Foreign Service Act death gratuity; the employee's spouse received payment in the amount of $80,000 under that Act. A death gratuity is also payable under FECA; the amount of the FECA death gratuity that is payable is a total of $20,000. That employee, using Form CA-40 had designated 50% of the death gratuity under this subpart to be paid to his neighbor John Smith who is still living. So, 50% of the death gratuity will be paid to his spouse and the remaining 50% of the death gratuity paid under this subpart would be paid to John Smith. This means the surviving spouse will receive $10,000 and John Smith will receive $10,000.
(2) Example Two. Employee dies in circumstances that would qualify her for payment of the gratuity under this subpart; her agency has paid the $10,000 death gratuity pursuant to Public Law 104-208. The employee had not completed any designation form. The FECA death gratuity is reduced by the $10,000 death gratuity and employee's spouse receives $90,000.
(3) Example Three. An employee of the Foreign Service whose annual salary is $75,000 dies in circumstances that would qualify for payment of both the Foreign Service Act death gratuity and the death gratuity under this subpart. Before his death, the employee designated that 40% of the death gratuity under this subpart be paid to his cousin Jane Smith, pursuant to the alternate beneficiary designation provision at § 10.908 and that 10% be paid to his uncle John Doe who has since died. At the time of his death, the employee had no surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings. Therefore, the Foreign Service Act death gratuity will not be paid, because no eligible survivors according to the Foreign Service Act provision exist. The death gratuity under this subpart would equal $100,000, because no other death gratuity has been paid, and Jane would receive $40,000 according to the employee's designation. As John Doe is deceased, no death gratuity may be paid pursuant to the designation of a share of the death gratuity to him.
3. Part 25 is revised to read as follows:End Amendment Part Start Part
PART 25—COMPENSATION FOR DISABILITY AND DEATH OF NONCITIZEN FEDERAL EMPLOYEES OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES
- How are claims of Federal employees who are neither citizens nor residents adjudicated?
- In general, what is the Director's policy regarding such claims?
- What is the authority to settle and pay such claims?
- What type of evidence is required to establish a claim under this part?
- How does OWCP adjudicate claims of non-citizen residents of possessions or territories?
- What general provisions does OWCP apply to the Special Schedule?
- How is compensation for disability paid?
- How is compensation for death of a non-citizen non-resident employee paid?
- How is the Special Schedule applied for employees in the Republic of the Philippines?
- How is the Special Schedule applied for employees in Australia?
- How is the Special Schedule applied for Japanese seamen?
- How is the Special Schedule applied to non-resident aliens in the Territory of Guam?
Subpart A—General Provisions
This part describes how OWCP pays compensation under the FECA to employees of the United States who are neither citizens nor residents of the United States, any territory or Canada, as well as to any dependents of such employees. It has been determined that the compensation provided under the FECA is substantially disproportionate to the compensation for disability or death which is payable in similar cases under local law, regulation, custom or otherwise, in areas outside the United States, any territory or Canada and therefore a special schedule should apply to such cases This special schedule applies to any non-citizen non-resident Federal employee who is neither hired nor employed in the United States, Canada or in a possession or territory of the United States. Therefore, with respect to the claims of such employees whose injury (or injury resulting in death) has occurred subsequent to August 29, 2011, or may occur, the regulations in this part shall apply.
(a) Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8137(a)(2), a special schedule is established by subpart B of this part that applies to any non-citizen non-resident Federal employee who is neither hired nor employed in the United States, Canada or in a possession or territory of the United States (hereinafter non-citizen non-resident employees). The special schedule in subpart B of this part is subject to the exceptions set forth in paragraph (b) of this section. The special schedule set forth in subpart B of this part applies to claims of such employees whose injury (or injury resulting in death) occurred on or after August 29, 2011.
(b) This special schedule of compensation established by subpart B of this part shall apply to non-citizen non-resident employees outside of the United States unless:
(1) The injured employee receives compensation pursuant to a specific separate agreement between the United States and another government (or similar compensation from another sovereign government);
(2) The employee receives compensation pursuant to the special schedule under subpart C for the particular locality, or for a class of employees in that particular locality; or
(3) The employee otherwise establishes entitlement to compensation under local law pursuant to § 25.100(e).
(c) Compensation in all cases of such employees paid and closed prior to August 29, 2011 shall be deemed compromised and paid under 5 U.S.C. 8137. In all other cases, compensation may be adjusted to conform with the regulations in this part, or the beneficiary may by compromise or agreement with the Director have compensation continued on the basis of a previous adjustment of the claim.
(d) Compensation received by beneficiaries pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 8137 and the special schedule set forth in subpart B or as otherwise specified in paragraph (b) of this section is the exclusive measure of compensation in cases of injury (or death from injury) to non-citizen non-resident employees of the United States as specified in paragraph (a) of this section.
(e) Compensation for disability and death of non-citizen non-resident employees outside the United States under this part shall in no event exceed that generally payable under the FECA.
In addition to the authority to receive, process and pay claims, when delegated such representative or agency receiving delegation of authority shall, in respect to cases adjudicated under this part, and when so authorized by the Director, have authority to make lump-sum awards (in the manner prescribed by 5 U.S.C. 8135) whenever such authorized representative shall deem such settlement to be for the best interest of the United States, and to compromise and pay claims for any benefits provided for under this part, including claims in which there is a dispute as to questions of fact or law. The Director shall, in instructions to the particular representative concerned, establish such procedures in respect to action under this section as he or she may deem necessary, and may specify the scope of any administrative review of such action.
Claims of non-citizen non-resident employees of the United States as specified in § 25.2(a), if otherwise compensable, shall be approved only upon evidence of the following nature without regard to the date of injury or death for which the claim is made:
(a) Appropriate certification by the Federal employing establishment; or
(b) An armed service's casualty or medical record; or
(c) Verification of the employment and casualty by Department of Defense personnel; or
(d) Recommendation of an armed service's “Claim Service” based on investigations conducted by it.
An employee who is a bona fide permanent resident of any United States possession, territory, commonwealth, or trust territory will receive the full benefits of the FECA, as amended, except that the application of the minimum benefit provisions provided therein shall be governed by the restrictions set forth in 5 U.S.C. 8138.
Subpart B—The Special Schedule of Compensation
(a) The definitions of terms in the FECA, as amended, shall apply to terms used in this subpart.
(b) The provisions of the FECA, unless modified by this subpart or otherwise inapplicable, shall be applied Start Printed Page 37949whenever possible in the application of this subpart.
(c) The provisions of the regulations for the administration of the FECA, as amended or supplemented from time to time by instructions applicable to this subpart, shall apply in the administration of compensation under this subpart, whenever they can reasonably be applied.
Compensation for disability shall be paid to the non-citizen non-resident employee as follows:
(a) Temporary total disability. Where the injured employee is disabled and unable to earn wages equivalent to those earned at the time of injury for a period of time less than two years, the employee shall receive 50 percent of the monthly pay during the period of such disability.
(b) Temporary partial disability. Where the injured employee is disabled and unable to earn equivalent wages to those earned at the time of injury, but who is not totally disabled for work, the injured employee shall receive during the period of disability, that proportion of compensation for temporary total disability, as determined under paragraph (a) of this section, which is equal in percentage to the degree or percentage of physical impairment caused by the disability.
(c) Permanent total disability. Where it is found that the injured employee is disabled and will be or has been unable to earn equivalent wages to those earned at the time of injury for greater than two years, the employee is deemed permanently disabled. Such employee shall receive a lump sum settlement based on compensation equaling 50 percent of the monthly pay or a percentage proportionate to the extent of disability. The lump sum award shall be made by the manner prescribed by 5 U.S.C. 8135.
(d) Permanent partial disability. Where there is permanent disability (impairment) involving the loss, or loss of use, of a member or function of the body, the injured employee is entitled to schedule compensation at 50 percent of the monthly pay to be paid in a lump sum according to 5 U.S.C. 8135, for the following losses and periods:
(1) Arm lost: 312 weeks' compensation.
(2) Leg lost: 288 weeks' compensation.
(3) Hand lost: 244 weeks' compensation.
(4) Foot lost: 205 weeks' compensation.
(5) Eye lost: 160 weeks' compensation.
(6) Thumb lost: 75 weeks' compensation.
(7) First finger lost: 46 weeks' compensation.
(8) Great toe lost: 38 weeks' compensation.
(9) Second finger lost: 30 weeks' compensation.
(10) Third finger lost: 25 weeks' compensation.
(11) Toe, other than great toe, lost: 16 weeks' compensation.
(12) Fourth finger lost: 15 weeks' compensation.
(13) Loss of hearing: One ear, 52 weeks' compensation; both ears, 200 weeks' compensation.
(14) Breast (one) lost: 52 weeks' compensation.
(15) Kidney (one) lost: 156 weeks' compensation.
(16) Larynx lost: 160 weeks' compensation.
(17) Lung (one) lost: 156 weeks' compensation.
(18) Penis lost: 205 weeks' compensation.
(19) Testicle (one) lost: 52 weeks' compensation.
(20) Tongue lost: 160 weeks' compensation.
(21) Ovary (one) lost: 52 weeks' compensation.
(22) Uterus/cervix and vulva/vagina lost: 205 weeks' compensation.
(23) Skin: 205 weeks' compensation.
(24) Phalanges: Compensation for loss of more than one phalanx of a digit shall be the same as for the loss of the entire digit. Compensation for loss of the first phalanx shall be one-half of the compensation for the loss of the entire digit.
(25) Amputated arm or leg: Compensation for an arm or a leg, if amputated at or above the elbow or the knee, shall be the same as for the loss of the arm or leg; but, if amputated between the elbow and the wrist, or between the knee and the ankle, the compensation shall be the same as for the loss of the hand or the foot.
(26) Binocular vision or percent of vision: Compensation for loss of binocular vision, or for 80 percent or more of the vision of an eye shall be the same as for the loss of the eye.
(27) Two or more digits: Compensation for loss of two or more digits, one or more phalanges of two or more digits of a hand or foot may be proportioned to the loss of use of the hand or foot occasioned thereby, but shall not exceed the compensation for the loss of a hand or a foot.
(28) Total loss of use: Compensation for a permanent total loss of use of a member shall be the same as for loss of the member.
(29) Partial loss or partial loss of use: Compensation for permanent partial loss or loss of use of a member may be for proportionate loss of use of the member.
(30) Consecutive awards: In any case in which there occurs a loss or loss of use of more than one member or parts of more than one member set forth in paragraph (d) of this section, but not amounting to permanent total disability, the award of compensation shall be for the loss or loss of use of each such member or part thereof, which awards shall run consecutively.
(31) Other cases: In all other cases within this class of disability the compensation during the continuance of disability shall be that proportion of compensation for permanent total disability, as determined under paragraph (c) of this section, which is equal in percentage to the degree or percentage of physical impairment caused by the disability.
(32) Compensation under paragraph (d) of this section for permanent partial disability shall be in addition to any compensation for temporary total or temporary partial disability under this section, and awards for temporary total, temporary partial, and permanent partial disability shall run consecutively.
(e) In the event a beneficiary covered under subpart B can demonstrate that the amount payable under the special schedule would result in a payment that would be demonstrably less than the amount payable under the law of his home country, the Director retains the discretion to pay that amount of compensation under 5 U.S.C. 8137(a)(2)(A), not to exceed the amount payable under FECA. To request benefits under this paragraph, the beneficiary must submit the following:
(1) Translated copies of the applicable local statute as well as any regulations, policies and procedures the beneficiary avers are applicable; and
(2) A translated copy of an opinion rendered by an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction or an advisory opinion from a court or administrative tribunal that explains the benefits payable to the beneficiary.
If the disability causes death, the compensation shall be payable in the amount and to or for the benefit of the following persons:
(a) To the undertaker or person entitled to reimbursement, reasonable funeral expenses not exceeding $800.
(b) To the surviving spouse, if there is no child, 30 percent of the monthly pay Start Printed Page 37950until his or her death or remarriage subject to the lump sum provisions of 5 U.S.C. 8135.
(c) To the surviving spouse, if there is a child, the compensation payable under paragraph (b) of this section, and in addition thereto 10 percent of the monthly wage for each child, not to exceed a total of 50 percent of the monthly pay for such surviving spouse and children subject to the lump sum provisions of 5 U.S.C. 8135. If a child has a guardian other than the surviving spouse, the compensation payable on account of such child shall be paid to such guardian. The compensation entitlement of any child shall cease when he or she dies, marries or reaches the age of 18 years, or if over such age and incapable of self-support, becomes capable of self-support.
(d) To the children, if there is no surviving spouse, 25 percent of the monthly pay for one child and 10 percent thereof for each additional child, not to exceed a total of 50 percent of the monthly pay thereof, divided among such children share and share alike subject to the lump sum provisions of 5 U.S.C. 8135. The compensation entitlement of each child shall cease when he or she dies, marries or reaches the age of 18, or if over such age and incapable of self-support, becomes capable of self-support. The compensation of a child under legal age shall be paid to its guardian, if there is one, otherwise to the person having the custody or care of such child, for such child, as the Director in his or her discretion shall determine.
(e) To the parents, if one is wholly dependent for support upon the deceased employee at the time of his or her death and the other is not dependent to any extent, 20 percent of the monthly pay; if both are wholly dependent, 10 percent thereof to each; if one is or both are partly dependent, a proportionate amount in the discretion of the Director. The compensation to a parent or parents in the percentages specified shall be paid if there is no surviving spouse or child, but if there is a surviving spouse or child, there shall be paid so much of such percentages for a parent or parents as, when added to the total of the percentages of the surviving spouse and children, will not exceed a total of 50 percent of the monthly pay. These payments are subject to the lump sum provision of 5 U.S.C. 8135.
(f) To the brothers, sisters, grandparents and grandchildren, if one is wholly dependent upon the deceased employee for support at the time of his or her death, 20 percent of the monthly pay to such dependent; if more than one are wholly dependent, 30 percent of such pay, divided among such dependents share and share alike; if there is no one of them wholly dependent, but one or more are partly dependent, 10 percent of such pay divided among such dependents share and share alike. The compensation to such beneficiaries shall be paid if there is no surviving spouse, child or dependent parent. If there is a surviving spouse, child or dependent parent, there shall be paid so much of the above percentages as, when added to the total of the percentages payable to the surviving spouse, children and dependent parents, will not exceed a total of 50 percent of such pay. These payments are subject to the lump sum provision of 5 U.S.C. 8135.
(g) The compensation entitlement of each beneficiary under paragraphs (e) and (f) of this section shall be paid until he or she, if a parent or grandparent, dies, marries or ceases to be dependent, or, if a brother, sister or grandchild, dies, marries or reaches the age of 18 years, or if over such age and incapable of self-support, becomes capable of self-support. The compensation of a brother, sister or grandchild under legal age shall be paid to his or her guardian, if there is one, otherwise to the person having the custody or care of such person, for such person, as the Director in his or her discretion shall determine.
(h) Upon the cessation of any person's compensation for death under this subpart, the compensation of any remaining person entitled to continuing compensation in the same case shall remain the same so that the continuing compensation shall be at the same rate each person previously received.
(i) In cases where there are two or more classes of persons entitled to compensation for death under this subpart, and the apportionment of such compensation as provided in this section would result in injustice, the Director may in his or her discretion modify the apportionments to meet the requirements of the case.
(j) Compensation for death shall be paid where practicable in a lump sum pursuant to section 8135.
(k) In the event a beneficiary eligible for death benefits covered under subpart B can demonstrate that the amount payable under the special schedule would result in a payment that would be demonstrably less than the amount payable under the law of his home country, the Director retains the discretion to pay that amount of compensation under 5 U.S.C. 8137(a)(2)(A), not to exceed the amount payable under FECA. To request benefits under this paragraph, the beneficiary must submit the following:
(1) Translated copies of the applicable local statute as well as any regulations, policies and procedures the beneficiary asserts are applicable; and
(2) A translated copy of an opinion rendered by an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction or an advisory opinion from a court or administrative tribunal that explains the benefits payable to the beneficiary.
(l) A FECA death gratuity of $65,000 may be payable for the death of a non-citizen non-resident employee should the death be a result of injury incurred in connection with service with an Armed Force in a contingency operation as set forth in subpart J of part 10.
Subpart C—Extensions of the Special Schedule of Compensation
(a) Modified special schedule of compensation. Except for injury or death of direct-hire employees of the U.S. Military Forces covered by the Philippine Medical Care Program and the Employees' Compensation Program pursuant to the agreement signed by the United States and the Republic of the Philippines on March 10, 1982 who are also members of the Philippine Social Security System, the special schedule of compensation established in subpart B of this part shall apply, with the modifications or additions specified in paragraphs (b) through (k) of this section, in the Republic of the Philippines, to injury or death occurring on or after July 1, 1968, with the following limitations:
(1) Temporary disability. Benefits for payments accruing on and after July 1, 1969, for injuries causing temporary disability and which occurred on and after July 1, 1968, shall be payable at the rates in the special schedule as modified in this section.
(2) Permanent disability and death. Benefits for injuries occurring on and after July 1, 1968, which cause permanent disability or death, shall be payable at the rates specified in the special schedule as modified in this section for all awards not paid in full before July 1, 1969, and any award paid in full prior to July 1, 1969: Provided, that application for adjustment is made, and the adjustment will result in additional benefits of at least $10. In the case of injuries or death occurring on or after December 8, 1941 and prior to July 1, 1968, the special schedule as modified in this section may be applied to prospective awards for permanent Start Printed Page 37951disability or death, provided that the monthly and aggregate maximum provisions in effect at the time of injury or death shall prevail. These maxima are $50 and $4,000, respectively.
(b) Death benefits. 400 weeks' compensation at two-thirds of the weekly wage rate, shared equally by the eligible survivors in the same class.
(c) Death beneficiaries. Benefits are payable to the survivors in the following order of priority (all beneficiaries in the highest applicable classes are entitled to share equally):
(1) Surviving spouse and unmarried children under 18, or over 18 and totally incapable of self-support.
(2) Dependent parents.
(3) Dependent grandparents.
(4) Dependent grandchildren, brothers and sisters who are unmarried and under 18, or over 18 and totally incapable of self-support.
(d) Burial allowance. 14 weeks' wages or $400, whichever is less, payable to the eligible survivor(s), regardless of the actual expense. If there is no eligible survivor, actual burial expenses may be paid or reimbursed, in an amount not to exceed what would be paid to an eligible survivor.
(e) Permanent total disability. 400 weeks' compensation at two-thirds of the weekly wage rate.
(f) Permanent partial disability. Where applicable, the compensation provided in § 25.100(c)(1) through (19) subject to an aggregate limitation of 400 weeks' compensation. In all other cases, provided for permanent total disability that proportion of the compensation (paragraph (e) of this section) which is equivalent to the degree or percentage of physical impairment caused by the disability.
(g) Temporary partial disability. Two-thirds of the weekly loss of wage-earning capacity.
(h) Compensation period for temporary disability. Compensation for temporary disability is payable for a maximum period of 80 weeks.
(i) Maximum compensation. The total aggregate compensation payable in any case, for injury or death or both, shall not exceed $8,000, exclusive of medical costs and burial allowance. The weekly rate of compensation for disability or death shall not exceed $35.
(j) Method of payment. Only compensation for temporary disability shall be payable periodically. Compensation for permanent disability and death shall be payable in full at the time the extent of entitlement is established.
(k) Exceptions. The Director in his or her discretion may make exceptions to the regulations in this section by:
(1) Reapportioning death benefits, for the sake of equity.
(2) Excluding from consideration potential death beneficiaries who are not available to receive payment.
(3) Paying compensation for permanent disability or death on a periodic basis, where this method of payment is considered to be in the best interest of the beneficiary.
(a) The special schedule of compensation established by subpart B of this part shall apply in Australia with the modifications or additions specified in paragraph (b) of this section, as of December 8, 1941, in all cases of injury (or death from injury) which occurred between December 8, 1941 and December 31, 1961, inclusive, and shall be applied retrospectively in all such cases of injury (or death from injury). Compensation in all such cases pending as of July 15, 1946, shall be readjusted accordingly, with credit taken in the amount of compensation paid prior to such date. Refund of compensation shall not be required if the amount of compensation paid in any such case, otherwise than through fraud, misrepresentation or mistake, and prior to July 15, 1946, exceeds the amount provided for under this paragraph, and such case shall be deemed compromised and paid under 5 U.S.C. 8137.
(b) The total aggregate compensation payable in any case under paragraph (a) of this section, for injury or death or both, shall not exceed the sum of $4,000, exclusive of medical costs. The maximum monthly rate of compensation in any such case shall not exceed the sum of $50.
(c) The benefit amounts payable under the provisions of the Commonwealth Employees' Compensation Act of 1930-1964, Australia, shall apply as of January 1, 1962, in Australia, as the exclusive measure of compensation in cases of injury (or death from injury) according on and after January 1, 1962, and shall be applied retrospectively in all such cases, occurring on and after such date: Provided, that the compensation payable under the provisions of this paragraph shall in no event exceed that payable under the FECA.
(a) General. The special schedule of compensation established by subpart B of this part shall apply as of November 1, 1971, with the modifications or additions specified in paragraphs (b) through (i) of this section, to injuries sustained outside the continental United States or Canada by direct-hire Japanese seamen who are neither citizens nor residents of the United States or Canada and who are employed by the Military Sealift Command in Japan.
(b) Temporary total disability. Weekly compensation shall be paid at 75 percent of the weekly wage rate.
(c) Temporary partial disability. Weekly compensation shall be paid at 75 percent of the weekly loss of wage-earning capacity.
(d) Permanent total disability. Compensation shall be paid in a lump sum equivalent to 360 weeks' wages.
(e) Permanent partial disability. (1) The provisions of § 25.101 of this part shall apply to the types of permanent partial disability listed in paragraphs (d)(1) through (13) and (d)(24) through (29) of that section: Provided that weekly compensation shall be paid at 75 percent of the weekly wage rate and that the number of weeks allowed for specified losses shall be changed as follows:
(i) Arm lost: 312 weeks.
(ii) Leg lost: 288 weeks.
(iii) Hand lost: 244 weeks.
(iv) Foot lost: 205 weeks.
(v) Eye lost: 160 weeks.
(vi) Thumb lost: 75 weeks.
(vii) First finger lost: 46 weeks.
(viii) Second finger lost: 30 weeks.
(ix) Third finger lost: 25 weeks.
(x) Fourth finger lost: 15 weeks.
(xi) Great toe lost: 38 weeks.
(xii) Toe, other than great toe lost: 16 weeks.
(2) In all other cases, that proportion of the compensation provided for permanent total disability in paragraph (d) of this section which is equivalent to the degree or percentage of physical impairment caused by the injury.
(f) Death. If there are two or more eligible survivors, compensation equivalent to 360 weeks' wages shall be paid to the survivors, share and share alike. If there is only one eligible survivor, compensation equivalent to 300 weeks' wages shall be paid. The following survivors are eligible for death benefits:
(1) Spouse who lived with or was dependent upon the employee.
(2) Unmarried children under 21 who lived with or were dependent upon the employee.
(3) Adult children who were dependent upon the employee by reason of physical or mental disability.
(4) Dependent parents, grandparents and grandchildren.
(g) Burial allowance. $1,000 payable to the eligible survivor(s), regardless of actual expenses. If there are no eligible Start Printed Page 37952survivors, actual expenses may be paid or reimbursed, up to $1,000.
(h) Method of payment. Only compensation for temporary disability shall be payable periodically, as entitlement accrues. Compensation for permanent disability and death shall be payable in a lump sum.
(i) Maxima. In all cases, the maximum weekly benefit shall be $130. Also, except in cases of permanent total disability and death, the aggregate maximum compensation payable for any injury shall be $51,000. This amount will be adjusted annually on March 1 in accordance with the percentage amount determined by the cost of living adjustment under 5 U.S.C. 8146a.
(j) Prior injury. In cases where injury or death occurred prior to November 1, 1971, benefits will be paid in accordance with regulations promulgated, contained in 20 CFR parts 1-399, edition revised as of January 1, 1971.
The special schedule of compensation established by subpart B of this part shall apply to an injury or death occurring on or after August 29, 2011 in the Territory of Guam to non-resident alien employees recruited in foreign countries for employment by the military departments in the Territory of Guam. This schedule shall not apply to any employee who becomes a bona fide permanent resident as such claims will be decided in accordance with § 25.5.
Signed at Washington, DC this 8th of June, 2011.
Gary A. Steinberg,
Acting Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs.
[FR Doc. 2011-14915 Filed 6-27-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4510-CH-P