on Feb 23rd, 2009 in OIG | 27 comments
 

The Postal Service funds workers’ compensation benefits for employees who sustain job-related injuries. In FY 2008, the Postal Service incurred over $1.2 billion in workers' compensation expenses. In addition, the Postal Service estimated its liability for future workers’ compensation costs at nearly $8 billion. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) administers the workers’ compensation program and then bills the Postal Service for reimbursement. While the Office of Inspector General (OIG) recognizes that fraudulent workers’ compensation claims make up a small percentage of the total claims, the OIG commits significant resources toward identifying claimants who defraud the system. In FY 2008, OIG investigations saved the Postal Service more than $197 million in future workers’ compensation costs, and the OIG arrested 51 individuals for workers’ compensation fraud. The following example highlights one of our recent successes.

On October 2, 2008, a former Postal Service mail processing clerk from Montana was convicted in U.S. District Court on four counts of fraud following a 3-day trial in Billings, Montana. This former postal clerk had not worked since December 1986 and had received more than $650,000 in workers’ compensation payments since that time. She considered herself so disabled that she could not even “bend over to cut her toenails.” During a month-long surveillance in the fall of 2006, OIG agents saw a much more active woman as they videotaped her using a chain saw and wood splitter, unloading 10-foot logs from her pickup, and stacking large chunks of wood. (See above for some of the video footage.) On January 21, 2009, Chief U.S. District Court Judge Richard Cebull ruled that the former clerk is suffering from a mental disorder and committed her to a federal medical center for up to 20 years. This successful investigation saved the Postal Service approximately $781,000 in future workers’ compensation payments. Do you have any suggestions for preventing workers’ compensation fraud?

Comments

Great work. We need to see these as often as you can catch them. A big morale booster to those that do work everyday for their money. Congratulations.

Great Work! More energy and resources need to be spent on capturing employees that commit fraud

The story on the Montana case is simply heartwarming! I think every Postal employee who works for their paycheck can appreciate the theft that occurs from this company in workers comp fraud. Love the fact that some are caught but not nearly enough! Since there are not enough OIG agents to go around, I think that we should use the resources we have to catch more offenders...... US! There should be an office that each employee could send suspicious videos to illustrating co-workers who are abusing the system. This could tip off agents and might possibly begin a case that could save millions. The abuser then would constantly have to be looking over their shoulder and would think twice about the choice not to work when they are truly capable of doing so!

GOOD FOR YOU!!

I HAVE 42 YEARS AND COUNTING.I PLAN TO HAVE A KNEE REPLACEMENT IN MARCH. I PLAN TO BE OUT ONLY 3 WEEKS AND MAY USE ANNUAL LEAVE.

IF WE CAN PLAY BY THE RULES,SO CAN SHE!

Thanks for the great work....there is nothing worse for service, cost or employee morale than having to watch those that are obviously manipulating the system.
Amazing how their "restrictions" apply ony at work, butnot in their personal lives. I have never understood why the USPS tolerates this.There is simply nothing more gratifying than to see these frauds exposed and the perps brought to justice.

I like the idea of self-regulation (employee involvement)...get the video recorders rolling and the referrals coming!!!!!

OIG is great - it only took them 20 years to catch a mentally ill person. How do I get a job like that?

you really need to check out the spokane P&DC, There is alot of fraud here in the spokane area, and I,ve yet to see anyone get caught and cinvicted.

To USPS employees that want to help,

Use the OIG hotline (888) USPS-OIG, or contact your local OIG office, to report your allegation/s of workers' compensation fraud. Let the OIG agents, who are trained law enforcement officers, investigate. You could be exposing yourself to liability and/or personal harm if you try to conduct surveillance. Beleieve it or not, there is alot more to these investigations than just taking photographs/video of the claimant involved in a physical activity.

Of course this only applies to craft employees. If your a manager or 204B no problem. 204B here been on "light" duty from almost the time she was hired. She been milking it pretty good...but than again..she is in management, see no problem. Had a upper level manager collect OWCP. Her case was investigated, hold on now...by her HUSBAND, a postel inspector. Would you believe he found her injury to be "real"? See, no problem.

Hey Cikowski!
did you ever find the ones that sent your desk to evanston?????

The problem is more than just Worker's Compensation. We have people with medical restrictions that are not job related. They are either unable to work more than eight hours or unable to do park and loop routes. Some are unable to wear a satchel or unable to lift trays off of the floor. Their is tremendous amounts of "accomadation" that is really expensive and unfair to the workers that are unlucky enough to be able bodied.

It is not easy to do the right thing. Remove your emotions from the allegation. When you have a need to report, make use of the proper channels. Let the investigators do their job. Call the OIG hotline 888-OIG-USPS or contact local OIG.

Workers comp is one of the biggest USPS financial burdens they have next to salaries and benefits. If more OIG resources aren't directed to this bottomless pit you will continue to have the word of mouth continue to spread. A deterrent (abusers) is needed in order to stop the flood of frivolous claims.

Most of you are missing the point here. This is not a forum for complaining about every person whom you know to be on light duty or limited duty.

It is about FRAUD!!! Not about those whom you dislike because you think that they are doing less work than you, although you don't work much yourself because you are too busy watching what everyone is doing...or in your mind...not doing.

Just like supervisors attempt to pit employee against employee, this site does the same thing.

They want all of you disgruntled complainers to go on Witch Hunts and turn into vigilanties and use your paranoia to claim that every person who is injured at work is actually just faking and is just getting over on the system.

If you spent more time doing your own job, you wouldn't have time to worry about anyone else.

That is the postal mentality though. People with little or no education beyond high school, no marketable skill and would be making minimum wage if not for the postal service and spend your time gossiping, rumor mongering, and being envious and resentful of anyone whom you think is doing better, is happier in life, and perceived to be doing less work than you.

If most of you had a life, you would find better things to do.

No matter what you care to believe, not everyone fakes a condition.

The postal service knows that. Their only concern is trying to save money by denying injuires while spending money on useless items that never work and giving mailers major discounts for doing YOUR job.

Why don't you spend as much effort fighting the wasteful spending of the USPS and the way they treat you as an employee?

No, you are to busy thinking that a fellow employee is getting something that you are not.

There is no denying that there is abuse, but you cannot paint everyone with the same broad brush, just like the public is wrong by assuming that all postal employees are overpaid, are all drug users and thieves, and do little work.

Sound familiar?

Having read several of the comments here I feel that I need to comment. No not everyone is faking their conditions but there are carriers out there that have conditions that seem to never heal. How long is to long to be on limited duty? One year, two years or seventeen years? If your restrictions state that you can only carry two hours of mail then it should take you two hours but some limited carriers will take longer because they ARE limited duty. I have worked with carriers that can take five to seven hours to deliver the two hours of mail. It is carriers like that that give the ones who work hard a bad name. I have also seen limited carriers who work twice as hard as carriers that are on full duty. But the ones that bother me are the ones that will openly say "management is going to pay me for this." Then that carrier will come in in penality time! But a full duty carrier will get written up for "unauthorized overtime." And you are right this is not a place to air out the dirty laundry that happens at your station but, it is a place to shed light on where some of the money is going that could keep the USPS from going belly up! Management needs to step up to the bat and deal with the terminal limited duty carriers that will not become permanent limited duty and give up their routes! Save the money and keep the light on that says we are open for business!

I believe it most likely that she had a permanent disabling work-related condition, which entitled her to benefits. After 10 years, her injuries must have unexpectedly slowly been improving. If she can lift logs now, I say put her back to work on the job instead of trying to prosecute her.

we have a permanent limited duty carrier that is now a clerk because he got hurt on the job. he cant do anything but answer the phone for 8 hours a day. he goes home and works in his garden and also works at his own business when is not at the po. he got the money to buy his business from suing the po. he says no one can touch him because he is a disable vet. he worked for 6 months as a carrier before he got hurt. many at our office have call oig so hopefully he will get caught just like this woman. stop the fraud and save the po.

The Postal Service is just another form of welfare.
Continue to hire individuals based on affirmative action instead of best qualified and this is what you get. Employee's who want a salary, don't want to work for it and know how to work the system.

After many extensive years in the postal septic system(the biggest pieces rise to the top),I'm not surprised to see them touting prosecutions of a VERY SMALL minority of workers(their own admission).Do you even mention how many of these "prosecutions" are thrown out or overturned?
You want to save money and investigate fraud??How about prosecuting negligent management? Do you realize that over DECADES, NOT ONE management has EVER been prosecuted for lying,cheating,or denying compensation to those truly injured? Even though laws and punishment are already on the books?Meanwhile they get to "retire" on comp after doing all the dirty work,while never getting in trouble for it.
You could save boatloads of money by going after the REAL trouble in the postal service-inept,incompetent management who lie,cheat,and steal at every turn,many times ordered to do so by higher ups in order to "fudge" the numbers. This will never change and you really don't want to prosecute the real frauds. That's why there's such a big deficit. Talk about Karma. I have seen many dedicated inspectors who have been told "not to go there" when it comes to mgmt. Until that changes,which I doubt it ever will,you'll never be financially viable or morally responsible.
Meanwhile mgmt incompetence and bullying will continue to cause further injuries and hardship for those really injured while the true frauds and criminals get away with promotions. What a way to do business!!!

OIG should recommend the Postal Service to add offering voluntary benefits to the employees. It is an Employee Paid Program that will enhance the benefits of the Employees but would not cost the Postal Service anything.

This will prevent Fraud in Workers Comp.
The reason why there are fraud is because the system is flawed. If employees have coverage and they get hurt OFF the job because they have voluntary benefits, they are covered , and they wont fraud on workers comp thus saving the Postal Service millions of dollars of OIG Investigating , save the Postal Service on workers comp claim, and the employees who got hurt would have income.

I agree whole heartedly with besharpone. There are those that are truly injured. They ones not have spoiled it for the rest. Again don't get caught up in management trying to pit craft against each other.

I'm trying to find out how to report a "possible" workmen's compensation fraud . I went to the website hotline@uspsoig.gov, but was confused of where to go from there. Can you help me?

Anonymous, You can make a report by phone, e-mail, fax, or mail. See http://www.uspsoig.gov/contact.htm for details.

You can also use the Hotline Complaint Form
(https://www.uspsoig.gov/hotlinenewforms.cfm).

Future Workers' Comp costs estimated at $8 billion is unbelievable. I believe that most people are sincere/honest and truly get injured, but one bad apple can ruin it for everyone else.

Thanks,
Chris

They say that Workers' Compensation Fraud, either at the State or Federal level is a "victimless crime". Nothing could be further from the truth. We all pay for this criminal activity one way or another. Full support should be given to all investigators and prosecutors working these cases. High cost of insurance for many employers is the last straw during these difficult times. Report the violators to the proper authorties.

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