on Jan 31st, 2011 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 75 comments
 
In 1916, the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) was enacted. FECA provides medical, compensation, death, and other benefits, such as vocational rehabilitation, and nursing services to federal employees who sustain injuries, including occupational diseases, as a result of their employment. All Postal Service employees are covered by FECA. The Department of Labor (DOL) administers FECA and makes all decisions regarding the eligibility of injured workers’ to receive workers’ compensation benefits. DOL provides direct compensation to medical providers, claimants, and beneficiaries. The Postal Service reimburses DOL for all workers’ compensation claims in addition to paying an administrative fee. In fiscal year 2009, the Postal Service workers’ compensation expense was approximately $2.2 billion, an 81 percent increase from $1.2 billion in FY 2008. These costs include $55 million in DOL administrative fees for FY 2009. About 72 percent ($718 million) was a non-cash charge related to changes in the estimated discount and inflation rates used to calculate the liability for future payments. At the end of FY 2009, the Postal Service estimated the total liability for future workers’ compensation cost was over $10 billion. One of the contributing factors to the high cost of workers’ compensation payments is that FECA does not mandate a cut-off age for workers’ compensation benefits. Thus, injured workers can continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits well past the legal retirement age of 65, and in some cases employees over the age of 90 are still receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Fraudulent workers’ compensation claims also result in higher overall costs. To combat workers’ compensation fraud the OIG launched its crime prevention and awareness campaign in September 2009 and a joint year-long initiative with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in February 2010. The successful investigative efforts saved the Postal Service more than $400 million for fiscal years 2009 and 2010 combined. What can the Postal Service do to reduce workers’ compensation costs? This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Human Resources and Security Audit Team.

75 Comments


I would love to help catch these "injured" workers!!!

What a pitiful statement...sounds like you are talking about ALL the injured. With such bias I hope you don't work in law enforcement. You sound like the kind who would beat a man just because of the color of his skin.

You need another question in your survey: "Should FECA be amended to eliminate the tax exemption of Workers' Compensation benefits?"

Tax is already paid thats why an injured worker gets only 75% if he/she has a family or 66% if they are single.

there is no such thing as a federal legal retirement age!

the postal service increased their compensation costs by sending workers home instead of findind them new jobs like they are supposed to!

Absolutely Correct!!!!!If the USPS would spend some money building up their injured by helping them with vocational rehabilitation instead of tearing them down body and soul. I loved working for the USPS. The day I reported my first serious injury I was told on the workroom floor that my career was over! For three years I was belittled and harassed for that same injury. USPS's way costs them way more money in the long run because now you have VERY broken employees who hate their job(because of harassment) and give them a very negative outlook on life and their future.

I say CHANGE THE SYSTEM! Go back to respecting your employees no matter what! Keep the atmosphere positive. Give them vocational counseling and you will see them drop off the OWCP rolls quickly.

the postal service increased their compensation costs by sending workers home instead of finding them new jobs like they are supposed to!

After watching a video of Senator Collins, I wrote her this.

Dear Senator Collins. I had the miss-pleasure of viewing a video of your interview on Fox news concerning the disabled Fed and Postal workers that are receiving compensation from the U.S. Govt. I am one of those people and have been since 1985. I am now 77 years old and still suffer my disabling condition. One of your statements on the video was wrong. There is a medical review yearly. If a doctors report is not submitted yearly your file is closed and compensation ceases. The FECA was created because Fed employees had no access to the courts to punish their employers for not providing a safe work place. In the civilian world if the employer does not provide a safe work place the employer can be sued for millions and then punished by an OSHA fine. So far I have received compensation for 23 years and have driven over 320 miles 2 times a year to be examined by my doctor of record. That is well over 12,000 miles in the last 23 years at my expense. My experience has not been good and you can expect a 7 page story by mail in a few days. I would have loved to been able to retire normally because I already had 29 years and 11 months service and only needed 2 years to go for age. I could then have gotten another job an added another 10 years to my 23 years of contributions to Social Security giving me 33 years and avoiding the WEP (Windfall Elimination Provision) that has cheated me and my adopted mentally disabled son out of $42,000 over the last 15 years. Please create a provision to do away with the WEP and do nothing about the FECA.

In some instances a third party may be better as the claimant would have access to the courts and judges. But I voted no because postal employees work under a federal agency and have a right to fall under OWCP jurisdiction. Federal laws would have to change. If you force injured workers to retire at 55 you would have to change the laws. One of them is the law that prevents an employee from suing their employer and gives the the right to collect workers' compensation. Lawsuits would cost the USPS more money. Third, I respect the effort of OIG to catch fraud but I expect high morals in conducting these investigations.

Make injured worker get off comp at retirement age, but level the playing field! I was injured on postal property. Let me sue the USPS for my injury and not be restricted to the benefits provided by OWCP, as I am now limited. I can assure you I would collect much more in a lawsuit than what I would receive frow OWCP benefits even if I were to draw full comp for the next one hundred years.

Also keep in mind that not all injured workers have a pension and do not earn social security credits while on the rolls of OWCP. You would be throwing a lot of 55 year old disabled people into severe poverty.

I am one of those "injured" workers, PMS, and I would be glad to have someone meet me in person and go over every aspect of my injury. This would save so much paper work between my doctor, myself and OWCP. I hope someday you have to deal with them, it's a nightmare. They constantly tell you they did not receive this form or that form, and postal supervisors are inept about the whole thing. Our Worker's comp "specialist" is out on full disability. An injured employee needs ONE claim examiner the WHOLE TIME to stay with them so that scammers are eliminated and real injuries are treated fairly and swiftly. Waiting for a referal for surgery or treatments can take a year or more. The entire time you're in pain, waiting for approval, could be time better spent on recovery. And S, think about it, why pay benefits and then tax it back? DUH

How about staffing the carrier craft adequately so that people who are not physically strong enough to work overtime are not forced to do so. The MIARAP route adjustments coupled with under-staffing have made the winter months practically unendurable. I do not believe the amounts of street-time carriers are now working are good for long-term worker productivity. We will break down and we still will be on the payroll.

Why would you waste your time considering the workers compensation program?

Perhaps you should simply ask (1.) The Underwriter (2.) The administrative Reserve Pools bureaucracy supporting it. {underwriter, OWCP, postal administration, and service provider, and let's not forget NIOSH}.

Make the Underwriter do it! You're in the mail business!

HOW PATHETIC!!!

I voted yes in number three but I think investigations should be limited to reported fraud or high suspicion. It is a waste of money to watch everyone as most people do not fake their injuries. Just because a person is seen painting their house for an hour does not mean they can work for 8-10 hours a day six days a week. Walking around a mall for a few hours does not mean a person can walk and carry mail for the same number of hours. There is mega $$$$ wasted watching a truly injured worker. If there is doubt in the medical, I say ok but if the medical is overwhelming, why waste the money. Yes you may find a claimant doing something outside of their restrictions but is this ethical when it is obvious they can not work full duty?

I hear more and more that only snippets of information are seen and usually compensation is terminated based on very limited observances.

Sirs, Question 1) the Postal Service is unequiped to make fair, "by the book" decisions as is overwhelmingly demonstrated by the filing of the same grievances and stories of reprisal and intimidation year after year. The lack of ethical conduct and the refusal to follow the existing rules makes postal management unfit to take on such important responsibility. Question 2) being injured on the job does not translate into being able to go out and get another job to supplement your income as a healthy retiree frequently does. Disability means you lose that option, and cannot work to keep your income up.
Essentially, with reliable, ethical managers that were rewarded AND held accountable for their actions as in a normal work environment; I would feel more accepting of a possible changing of responsibilities in terms of the DOL. This, however is definetly not the case here. You, the upper management of the Postal Service have allowed local and area managers to operate independent fiefdoms as long as the "numbers" look good and demoralized and disenfranchised your employees, including myself. I have no confidence in postal management taking on ANY new and important responsibilities.
If you are looking for ways to lower workers compensation costs, lower the preassure from managers on the employees.

You are right on the money.... The PO caused the increase by placing injured on the job employees out under the NRP!!! We want to work just unable to do our bid jobs.... It makes no sense to pay someone to sit at home when there is work that that indivudal can peform. The PO is not saving any money because the money that OWCP gives us is then billed at 100% back to the PO and let's not forget the thousand/millions of wasted dollars that they will have to pay out for greivences and the McConnel class action for the NRP, did they not learn from the Glover/Albrect case?!!!

How come there are no fraud investigations with regard to mishandling of FECA claims by USPS managers and Injury Compensation offices? How come there are no fraud investigations with regard to OWCP selected physicians who provide predictably biased medical opinions?

The problem of aged FECA claimants is because OWCP never compromises cases. Why should someone who was cut down in their prime earning years who was prevented from earning a full pension be forced off of compensation and onto a meager pension?

Right on!!! Why would OIG watch injured employees, it seems to me that there is more wasteful spending going on within managment that warrent their time vs harassing ligitemly injured workers.

BRAVO!! Nicely Said and I share your thoughts completely. After all the injured employee had already gone through and being still on the rolls-- There is truth to their claims!

Also With the NRP-- And the fact that the USPS will not let injured employees BACK to work.. The investigation should be placed on The USPS!

They have broke many FEDERAL LAWS by not allowing Disabled (Injured on the JOB employees) back to some kind of suitable work.

The Managers and the USPS in General have created waste up the GAZZOOO.
By them going to a private insurer for Injured employees proves that even our GOVERNMENT is now Questioning what they are doing to their employees.. The USPS Allows unsafe conditions to constantly exist, Then when the employee takes a BAD injury--THE USPS Tries to take them out any way they and flush them into the toilet!

We shall see what the outcome of this will be when all this eventually is seen in the public eyes.

They should not be allowed to change in any way shape or form how injured employees are cared for! FECA protects the injured employee.. Give the USPS an opportunity to manipulate this and they will.

Your proposals are a rehash of the effort that resulted in the HB EL505 be propagated and not used effectively. The FECA law precludes lawsuits for negligence on the part of supervisors and the agency itself. If the cost is too high set up workmans comp courts similar to Nebraska and allow attorney representation. Frankly regarding the retirement conversion it should take place at either 62 or 65, especially for those emploees that will be FERS retiree's versus CSRS.

YES! Bring on the courts! I will go for this change if we can sue!

1) No. The PS is already showing how heartless they are with their NRP. A third party would be worse than DOL because their continuing existence would be based on how many claims they can figure out how to deny.

2) No. Injured workers do not have the right to sue their agency and should not be forced to retire. If they are forced into retirement, they should also gain the right to sue.

3) No. The OIG spends billions of dollars to catch less than half of one percent on injured workers committing fraud. Spending billions to save thousands is not smart. The OIG is results driven and clearly not objective.

The rules are already in place to "weed out" the frauds.One way to save money would be for the P.I. and OIG to investigate the person filing the report first. If their information is weak or an outright lie file charges against them.I was in a situation like this. My boss, who was mad for being exposed as a poor manager by me,the union steward,called inspectors on me. I had a approved claim for a herniated disc in my neck. He called the P.I.'s and told them I was jumping off our loading dock with my baby daughter in my arms.In arbitration the inspector was asked if they look into the information they recieve from the "informant". He stated "no". My boss was caught lying under oath. I got my job, back pay and benefits back. My boss eventually was given a promotion to a hire level office.

A promotion to a higher level, today is only attained when you take the lowest moral ground. Humans have always had to deal with MAFIA types in history and today the MAFIA is in the USPS.

The NRP WAS PUT IN PLACE TO GET RID OF INJURED EMPLOYEES SO WHY COMPLAIN NOW ABOUT THE COST OF THE WORKMAN COMPENSATION PROGRAM.

If they push the injured off the rolls it should be at minimum full retirement age for social security, that way they can get the higher SS award and MAYBE survive.

For those few anti-compensation commenters, I hope you get injured at age 54 and a half when the law changes. Not really though, I wouldn't wish that kind of poverty on my worst enemy.

For OIG you think compensation costs are too high?....just watch what happens with the increase in carrier street time. The human body can only take so much..you can only "whip a slave" so much before they either break down or fight back!

Here Here!!!!!

If you make rules based on AGE that is called AGE DISCRIMINATION!!!

Lee: by your argument Social Security is Age Discrimination because only people of a certain age or condition in life are eligible to get it. DISCRIMINATION!! Where's my money?? Do you see how shallow that argument sounds? Same with your follow up one on discrimination, only injured people are getting the comp. Please.

Federal employees hired before 1983 are not covered by Social Security which is a retirement fund, naturally it is age based. OWCP has nothing to do with retirement, the federal government hires people of any age, the PO hires people over age 55 so if they get injured through no fault of their own they would be forced to retire, that is ridiculous!!

Think about it, Lee. Why should OWCP pay someone who should have retired? Age discrimination has to do with hiring and firing.

Because the FECA law states that the injured employee has the choice of choosing OWCP or retirement, whichever Benefits the injured employee. Nobody is abusing FECA, they are doing what the LAW entitles them to do!!

There is no mandatory retirement in the Postal Service or in most other Federal jobs!

Lee: a few corrections:

There are some mandatory retirements in fedral work, for example Law Enforcement (20 years or age 57). I think Air Traffic Controllers also have a same/similar age/retirement requirement.

"Nobody's abusing FECA"? Really? Do you actually believe NOBODY abuses it?

"OWCP has nothing to do with retirement". Except that many treat it like a retirement program (which it's not). Sad thing is if they die, benefits do not get passed on to the spouse or children or any other benficiary. Retirement can be.

"...the PO hires people over age 55 so if they get injured through no fault of their own they would be forced to retire..." Really? That how the PO hires people? I think you need to re-think your argument. The PO hasn't been hiring for any permanent jobs for awhile now.

Watchman-
Hasn't hired for awhile? A little over a year ago there were newbie supervisors in training and carriers only about 4 years ago. Plenty of older workers hired. What about all the TE's? They get injured too...they have no retirement. So one slip on the ice and you sliiip into retirement???? ridiculous. How about promoting the older carriers into management who would do a much better job....or instead of telling me my career was over the day I slipped, offering me one of those newbie supervisor jobs...they wouldn't because I have morals and more education that the supervisors they hired....they want moldable minds....to do their evil work...kind of like HITLER.

If you make rules just for injured workers that is called DISCRIMINATION AGAINST THE DISABLED!!!!

Hey WATCHMAN, it's the LAW!!

So, based on your argument, OWCP is discriminatory because it's only for injured workers, right? Think before you type.

Watchman-
You are the one that is clueless. Lee is right. If you force the disabled to retire and not the able bodied, this is discrimination. How would you like to be the one hurt at age 55 and forced to retire immediately?

Snowed: It not "forcing" the disabled to retire, it's converting people who will never return to work in the first place into a retirement system they were entitled to in the first place. How is that "discriminatory" both disabled and able bodied beling in the same retirement system? The OWCP is a return to work program primarily, NOT A RETIREMENT SYSTEM. That is the whole point. Why should injured people go into their 80's 90's 100's get paid better than the retirement system they should have been in?

Where do you get this age 55 number by the way in regards to this argument?

If worker intended to work to full SS age (67 for me), and can't cause they were injured, why should they be penalized? At full retirement age do conversion!!

AND give them their full retirement or equivalent...they don't get it, that's why many HAVE to stay on OWCP rolls.

I believe the entire system should be torn down and rebuilt. First fraud accusations are used too often when somebody is within the regulations. Such as You were spotted driving and your CA-17 states no work how are you driving? The answer is of course that OWCP allows for this as a basis of it falls upon the operation of the household and transportation to a medical appointment. Second the whole person needs to be taken into account. If a individual has say a lower lumbar sprain and after a referee evaluation they find it is advanced arthritis instead and the patient ison a walker. Sure you can pull them off the OWCP benefits payments, but it should not allow a supervisor to state "your fine and you needto report to work without your walker because you sprain has healed. If a person cannot do a job there should be some type procedure to drop from roles but not be able to terminate employment just because there is another medical condition that makes her unable to work. Management uses this too often to get rid of a employee they have a personal dislike for. There should also be a wider choice of secop and referee decision Doctor, My wife and I were sent to the same secop Doctor and to the same company (CHurchill Evaluation Systems) although the Doctors were differant. There must also be a clear line where the Post Office is forbidden to force a person to work while still on OWCP benefits, while the individual has NOT recieved a final decision on removal from the roles.

OIG agents, if like Postal Inspectors, and federal law enforcement,get to retire at age 50, supposedly because of all the hours they work. But, letter carriers who are forced to work overtime for years as they age must keep working. Seriously, stop the forced OT: carrier jobs are physical; therefore, more injuries. How much analysis does that fact need?

Apparently that "fact" does need some analysis. OIG agents, Inspectors and Federal Law enforcement have a 20 year retirement. Very few are ever able to retire at 50, but some do. The law requires them to retire at 57. The statute is due to their work as law enforcement.

Please. MANY retiree by age 50. Start at age 24, after college, by 50 you have 26 yrs. Even starting at age 30-the 20 year retirement is age 50. A letter carrier that starts at 20 or 22 has 28 r 30 yrs by age 50 and is expected to work at least until age 55.

Anon: So what if they do? It's their right under the law. If you want'a 20-year retirement, go into fed law enforcement or some other type of police work. BTW, not THAT many retire at 50, b/c they can't collect benfits until later anyway, so many(MOST) stay on into their mid-fifties or until 57.

I appreciate the work carriers and ALL employees do and wish they could get some consideration for the type of work they do which is very physical and demanding. Many of them stay on well past 55.

Those that have the mandatory retirement can usually afford to retire and their retirement is calculated differently. I was hired at age 44, not much retirement there. I think they need to look at all the variables.

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