ON THE JOB INJURY
Simple Explanation of Claiming a Work Injury - If you need help, call a union steward
1. Notify the supervisor, first thing.
2. Request a CA-1, CA-16, CA-17 (I know its a lot but they're not all for you)
- CA-1 is the the accident report
- CA-16 is a request to see YOUR doctor
- CA-17 is for you doctor/supervisor. After you've seen your doctor, your doctor should send your claim to OWCP for you.
3. OWCP will review your case and they will be in contact with you. There are certain things your supervisor MUST do, so if you have any issues please call a steward. Contact OWCP (503) 947-7585 or 1-800-452-0288
BELOW IS A MORE DETAILED VERSION OF THE PROCESS
Have you been injured on the job?
The NALC is committed to helping injured members with their on the job injuries. If you are not a member and need help, contact your shop steward to join the NALC so we can help you too.
Filing a CA-1 for a Traumatic Injury
A traumatic injury is defined as:
“A wound or other condition of the body caused by external force, including stress or strain, which is identifiable as to the time and place of occurrence and member or function of the body affected. The injury must be caused by a specific event or incident or series of events or incidents within a single work day or work shift.” The key to this definition is that an event or events must have occurred during a single workday or work shift.
Step 1: Notifying your supervisor
Immediately notify your supervisor and request:
- Form CA-1, Federal Employee's Notice of Traumatic Injury and Claim for Continuation of Pay/Compensation (must be supplied immediately)
- Form CA-16, Authorization for Examination and/or Treatment (must be supplied by your manager within 4 hours)
- Form CA-17, Duty Status Report (must be supplied immediately)
- Forms CA-1 and CA-17 are available at the Department of Labor website.
Step 2: The CA-1
Request a CA-1 from your supervisor. The Postal Service is required to provide you the form upon request, which is available on your supervisor’s computer. If you are refused a form, contact your shop steward immediately. You can print your own CA-1 here. Complete the employee portion of the CA-1, do not let a supervisor fill it out for you. Be thorough in describing the cause and nature of the injury. If you cannot describe the cause and nature in the space provided, write them down on a separate piece of paper, placing your name, address, phone number and Employee ID number at the top of the page. Sign and date the extra page and make a copy. At the bottom of the CA-1, question number 15 allows you to choose between Continuation of Pay (COP), or Sick and/or Annual leave. To qualify for COP you must:
- File your claim within 30 days of the date of injury
- Begin losing time within 45 days of the date of injury and,
- Provide medical evidence of your disability, signed by a doctor, within 10 days.
If you elect COP you will be paid your regular pay for 45 calendar days. The first three work days of COP are waiting days and you must use either sick and/or annual. After the waiting days you will continue to get paid every two weeks as if you were working. Once you have reviewed and signed your CA-1, physically hand the completed CA-1 to your supervisor. Do not leave it on your supervisor’s desk or inbox. The supervisor’s instructions for the CA-1 requires them to give you the signed receipt on (page 4) immediately. The CA-1 receipt establishes a record of your injury and the date you filed your claim. If the supervisor does not give you the receipt, ask for your shop steward. Make a copy of the of the CA-1 page you filled out. You should also request a copy of the completed CA-1 once management has filled out their portion. The Postal Service is required to give the completed CA-1 to you. The Postal Service has 10 working days to submit the CA-1 to the Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs, (OWCP).
Step 3: Seeking medical treatment
You have the right to seek treatment from your own doctor. If the Postal Service insists that you go to their doctor, you have to be seen by them but you do not have to be treated by them. Injured workers should always choose the doctor that treats them. Medical reports must be signed by a doctor. If you are examined by a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner, ask them to have a doctor review and counter-sign the report. Request a CA-16. The Postal Service is required by law to provide the CA-16 within four hours of your request. If for any reason your supervisor refuses to give you a CA-16, contact your shop steward and call the OSHA Whistleblowers hotline at 1-800-321-6742 to report it. You can use the CA-16 to see the doctor of your choice. If your doctor refers you to a specialist, the CA-16 will also cover those expenses. Review the CA-16 to make sure your supervisor properly fills out sections 8 – 11 including a signature. Section 12 of the CA-16 should contain OWCP’s address:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
DFEC CENTRAL MAILROOM
P.O. BOX 8300
LONDON, KY 40742-8300
You also need to request a CA-17 Duty Status Report from your supervisor. The Postal Service is responsible for filling out the job requirements on the left (side A) of the CA-17. Your doctor fills out the right (side B) of the CA-17, listing any medical restrictions. Once your doctor has completed the CA-17, make a copy of the completed CA-17 and give one copy to your supervisor. The CA-17 normally provides enough medical evidence for the Postal Service to make you a job offer and entitle you to COP. The Postal Service has 10 business days to send your CA-1 claim to OWCP. OWCP will send you a notification including your claim number within a month. If you do not receive a notice from OWCP that your claim has been received, contact your shop steward or National Business Agent’s office. Note: Your medical records are protected by the Privacy Act. With the exception of the CA-17, the Postal Service is not entitled to your personal medical records.
Step 4: Once your claim has been filed
OWCP's goal is to return each disabled employee to work as soon as he or she is medically able. Thoroughly explain your work duties to your doctor. Delivering mail is physically demanding work, and returning to work before you have properly healed can lead to debilitating, life-long injuries.Take a CA-17 to every medical appointment and provide a copy of the completed form to your supervisor. The Postal Service has an obligation to offer you work within your restrictions and the completed CA-17 must be provided to the Postal Service to determine if there is work available within your restrictions. Never refuse a job offer. Refusing a job offer can lead to termination of your benefits. If the Postal Service offers you work and compels you to either accept or refuse a job offer, always accept the job offer. If you are uncertain if you can perform all of the duties of the job, write “under protest” next to your signature. You have the right to take the job offer to your doctor. If your doctor believes the job offer exceeds your limitations, he or she must write a medical narrative listing the specific duties you cannot perform. Your doctor should send medical reports directly to OWCP. You can also upload medical reports into your claim file via ECOMP. Your medical reports are protected by the Privacy Act and should be sent directly to OWCP, not the Postal Service. The Postal Service is prohibited from calling your doctor. Any contact with your doctor must be in writing, and the Postal Service is required to send you a copy of the letter, and your doctor’s response.
Step 5: Once you have filed your claim, OWCP has three options:
1. Request more information
OWCP will notify you if your case lacks enough information to make a decision in your case. They will send you a development letter requesting more information listing a series of questions for both you and your doctor to answer. These letters always give you exactly 30 days from the date on the letter to respond. It is important that you act quickly to get the questions answered within the 30-day time limit. Make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. Bring the OWCP letter to your appointment and ask your doctor to thoroughly answer the questions. OWCP must receive the information within the 30 days, a postmark is insufficient. Make sure your doctor understands the urgency. Use ECOMP to upload your documents directly to your file. Never submit documents without first making copies for your own records. You need to organize your records to be ready to respond to OWCP. If you have problems with your claim, contact a branch officer or your National Business Agent’s office for help.
2. Accept the Claim
OWCP will send you a letter accepting your claim, listing the accepted conditions and a “Now That Your Claim Has Been Accepted” attachment that includes tools for managing your claim. Read the attachment carefully and keep it handy as it has important information you can reference regarding your claim. If you are on COP and it appears you will not return to work after 45 days, the Postal Service is required to provide you with form CA-7 to request wage-loss compensation after 30 days. The CA-7 comes with instructions on how to properly fill it out and submit it. If you do not receive a CA-7 from the Postal Service, request one from your supervisor or print one here. Submit the completed CA-7 every two weeks to your supervisor or district Health Resource Management, HRM office. Send a written request for a copy of the completed CA-7, including management’s portion every time you submit it to HRM. The Postal Service has five working days to complete their portion of the CA-7 and send it to OWCP. Keep a copy of every CA-7 for your file. OWCP's goal is to return each disabled employee to work as soon as he or she is medically able. Thoroughly explain your work duties to your doctor. Delivering mail is physically demanding work, and returning to work before you have properly healed can lead to debilitating, life-long injuries. Take a CA-17 to every medical appointment and provide a copy of the completed form to your supervisor. The Postal Service has an obligation to offer you work within your restrictions and the completed CA-17 must be provided to the Postal Service to determine if there is work available within your restrictions. Never refuse a job offer. Refusing a job offer can lead to termination of your benefits. If the Postal Service offers you work and compels you to either accept or refuse a job offer, always accept the job offer. If you are uncertain if you can perform all of the duties of the job, write “under protest” next to your signature, and contact your shop steward. You have the right to take the job offer to your doctor. If your doctor believes the job offer exceeds your limitations, he or she must write a medical narrative listing the specific duties you cannot perform. Your doctor should send the reports directly to OWCP, and you can upload them into your claim file via ECOMP. Your medical reports are protected by the Privacy Act and should be sent directly to OWCP, not the Postal Service. The Postal Service is prohibited from calling your doctor. Any contact with your doctor must be in writing, and the Postal Service is required to send you a copy of the letter, and your doctor’s response.
3. Deny the Claim
If OWCP denies your claim, they will normally list the basis for the decision. Along with the denial, OWCP will give you a list of your appeal rights. Each venue has specific time limits that are absolute. In order to successfully appeal a denial, you must address OWCP’s reasons for the denial. It often involves further medical documentation and new medical opinions from your doctor or a specialist. Contact a branch officer or National Business Agent’s office for help in choosing the proper venue for appeal.
Filing a CA-2 for an occupational disease
Occupational diseases are defined as injuries that occur over a period longer than one day or one work shift. To file a claim for an occupational disease, letter carriers need to fill out a CA-2 and provide a description of their work duties along with a medical narrative from a doctor that makes a causal connection between specific work factors and your diagnosed condition(s).
Step 1: Employee narrative
Prior to filing the CA-2, you need to explain your day-to-day duties as a letter carrier to your doctor. A written explanation of your job duties as a letter carrier provides your doctor with the information to write a medical opinion connecting specific work factors to your diagnosed conditions. Most doctors are very busy, so you need to keep your explanation to one page. Describe an average day on your route. Mail volume and deliveries fluctuate every day so avoid exact numbers. Describe how long you sort and deliver mail. Estimate mail volumes, weights, distances and repetitions. Never exaggerate. Use action words that describe your work factors like walking, carrying, reaching, pushing, pulling etc. To fully explain the range of letter carrier duties you can provide your doctor with the appropriate copies of/or the link to these Letter Carrier Duties photos and explanations.
Step 2: The doctor’s narrative
Once you have your job description completed, take a copy of it to your doctor.
OWCP requires a “rationalized” medical narrative that describes the causal relationship between specific work factors and the diagnosed injury. A rationalized narrative is one based on objective medical evidence such as tests, x-rays, or MRIs that describes the physiological mechanism by which specific work factors caused, aggravated or accelerated the diagnosed condition.
Your doctor must state his or her opinion with “reasonable medical certainty.” Reasonable medical certainty is a bureaucratic term required by OWCP.
The medical opinion of a board-certified specialist with expertise in your particular injury will have more weight with OWCP than a general practitioner. You can research doctors online or ask your general practitioner for a referral.
Step 3: Submitting the CA-2
Once you have the medical narrative describing the causal relationship between your work and your medical condition, ask your supervisor for a CA-2, Notice of Occupational Disease and a CA-17, Duty Status Report, or print on here. As you fill out the CA-2, you will come to question 11; Date you first became aware of the disease or illness. Answer question 11 as best as you can, OWCP needs to have a rough idea of when you had an initial diagnosis. Question 12 asks the date you first realized the disease or illness was caused or aggravated by your employment. The date your doctor signs his or her medical report will be the date you enter in question 12. You should file the CA-2 as soon as possible, preferably within the 30 days from the date listed in question 12. However, the CA-2 will meet the statutory time requirement if filed no later than 3 years after the date of your last exposure to the work factors that caused the injury. Complete your portion of the CA-2, make a copy of it and hand the original along with your narrative to your supervisor, do not place it on their desk or in their inbox. The supervisor’s instructions for the CA-2 requires them to give you the signed receipt on (page 4) immediately. Request a copy of the completed CA-2 for your file. The Postal Service is required to send your CA-2 to OWCP within 10 working days of receiving it from you. If OWCP has not received your CA-2 after 10 working days, contact your shop steward or National Business Agent’s office. Once OWCP gets your CA-2 they will assign you a claim number and send you a letter. If you do not receive a letter from OWCP, call your OWCP district office and ask for your file number. Medical reports should be sent directly to OWCP, not the Postal Service. Once you have the file number, you can mail the medical information – test results, medical narratives etc. directly to:
Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs
PO Box 8300
London, KY 40742
A better way is to directly upload the documents via OWCP’s web portal, ECOMP. Go to: https://www.ecomp.dol.gov/#. On the right side of the page, under Need to Upload a Document, click on the green Access Case and Upload Document icon. Follow the instructions on the next page and record the DCN number once your files have been uploaded. Uploading your information is faster and more reliable than mailing. When communicating with OWCP, it is essential to have your file number on every page, usually at the very top. Documents mailed to the London, Kentucky address get scanned; a page without a file number may never get into your claim file. The Postal Service has an obligation to make every effort to find you work within your limitations. Request a copy of form CA-17, Duty Status Report from your supervisor. The Postal Service is responsible for filling out the job requirements on the left (side A) of the CA-17. Your doctor fills out the right (side B) of the CA-17, listing any medical restrictions. When your doctor has completed and signed part B, take a copy of the completed CA-17 and give one copy to your supervisor.
The CA-2A Claim for Recurrence
Injured letter carriers should only file a recurrence if the Postal Service has withdrawn their limited duty job.
- Never file a CA2a unless your limited-duty job has been withdrawn or OWCP tells you to file a CA-2a in writing. Always talk to your branch OWCP specialist or National Business Agent’s before filing a CA-2a.
- Management often gives injured letter carriers a CA2a in error. If you have returned to work and re-injure the same body part, you need to file a CA-1 or CA-2. Doctors have a different definition of recurrence than does OWCP. If you are not sure if you should file a CA2a, call your National Business Agent’s office.
If your initial claim has been formally denied by OWCP, your denial letter should include one of three options for appealing the decision. The three options are:
- Hearings and Review for either an oral hearing or a review of the written record; must be postmarked within 30 days
- Reconsideration: Must be received 1 year from the date of the last merit decision
- Employees’ Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB): Must be received within 180 days from the last decision
You can only request one form of appeal at a time. You must view each option for appeal based upon what you can tactically accomplish. The three avenues should not be viewed as hierarchical, and the decision to appeal an adverse decision must be viewed as a strategic one.
You should always consult your branch OWCP specialist or your National Business Agent’s office prior to selecting an appeal route. As appeals to Hearings and Review must be done within 30 days of the formal decision, you should contact immediately upon receipt of the decision.
The Claimant Query System
The Claimant Query System (CQS) allows injured workers access to claim submission information and bill payment history. You must be the injured worker and have an existing OWCP Case File Number to access FECA's CQS. If you are not the injured worker/claimant you will not be granted access. To access CQS claimants must register through OWCP Connect here: https://owcpconnect.dol.gov/owcplogin/RegPIInputServlet
OWCP Connect allows users to prove their identity and create an account for communication with OWCP's various self-service applications. It is a centralized identity-proofing system used to create credentials for a user, and then to authenticate the credentials for login.
Identity proofing is accomplished by validating the user's information entered in the Account Registration process against secure Credit Bureau data. Once the user's identity has been verified, their account can be created. Once you are registered in CQS you can access Compensation Tracking to see when OWCP receives CA-7’s, and track payments for wage-loss compensation.
Help with Billing Issues
OWCP’s bill payment system is handled by Conduent, a private contractor who processes bills and medical authorization requests. In most cases, claimants or their doctors can call Conduent at 844-493-1966 and get billing problems solved. Once a doctor registers with Conduent, they are prohibited from requesting reimbursement from the injured worker. Doctors, hospitals and collection agencies seeking payment should be referred to Conduent. CCAs and on-the-job injuries The NALC is committed to ensuring that every injured letter carrier receives his or her rights when injured on the job. As a CCA, you are protected under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA), which provides benefits for federal employees who are injured on duty. The Postal Service has no obligation to inform you about your rights under FECA until after a job-related injury. The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) administers the FECA and has sole authority to award benefits. The FECA provides the right to medical care and wage-loss compensation for accepted injuries. In some offices, there is an unfortunate but pervasive sentiment that probationary employees should never report on-the-job injuries because it will lead to immediate separation without recourse. While it is true that employees in a probationary period of 90 or 120 days have no standing to file grievances protesting separations, employees who are intimidated, discouraged, denied, or separated after reporting an on-the-job injury have the right to file an Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) Whistleblower complaint within 30 days. The easiest way to file a complaint is by calling the OSHA hotline at 800-321-6742. An OSHA representative will document your contact information and a trained investigator will contact you to file your complaint.
You also may file a complaint online by going to:
CCAs should not feel intimidated in exercising their rights when injured on the job. Report any injury immediately to your supervisor and demand a CA-1 and CA-16 if you need medical attention. If you do not get help, call your shop steward, branch or National Business Agent’s office immediately.
An OSHA Whistleblowers complaint can also be filed online by going to this website: www.osha.gov/whistleblower/WBComplaint.html
Employer Safety Incentive and Disincentive Policies and Practices download.
916's OWCP District Office
District Office 14 - Seattle
AK, ID, OR and WA
Marcus Tapia, District Director
U.S. Dept. of Labor, OWCP
300 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1050F
Seattle, WA 98104-2429
Fax: (206) 470-3101
2020 FECA COLA projection: 2.1% as of May 2019
Based on the release of the May 2019 CPI-W (1982-84=100), the 2020 FECA COLA projection is 2.1%. The May 2019 CPI-W 249.871 was 2.1% above the December 2018 base index (244.786). The 2020 FECA COLA calculation will be finalized when the December 2019 CPI-W is published during the month of January 2020.
FECA COLAs are applicable only in cases where death or disability occurred more than one year prior to the adjustment’s effective date.