Objective

Our objective was to determine whether the Postal Service is properly paying its injured employees.

Postal Service employees are covered by the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) administers FECA, determines injured employees’ eligibility for benefits, and pays direct compensation to claimants or their beneficiaries. In 1974, FECA was amended, increasing benefits and significantly changing the law by adding provisions such as continuation of pay, which allows for an employee to elect to continue receiving salary from the employer, in lieu of annual or sick leave, for up to 45 days if the employee is absent from work due to disability or medical treatment from a work-related injury. The Postal Service is responsible for paying the injured worker continuation of pay while DOL adjudicates the workers’ compensation benefit claim. The DOL will begin making payments, following adjudication, to compensate for the loss of wages or wage-earning capacity due to the job-related injury.

Employees may receive both salary from the Postal Service and workers’ compensation payments from DOL for the same payroll period, but those payments cannot be for the same workhours, except when an employee has suffered a loss of wage-earning capacity as the result of the job-related injury. The Postal Service reimburses the DOL each year through a chargeback process. For the 2018 and 2019 chargeback years, the Postal Service reimbursed the DOL over $1.3 billion each year.

Workers’ compensation disability payments are payments made to injured employees for the loss of wages or wage-earning capacity and do not include reimbursement for incurred medical costs. In chargeback years 2018 and 2019, disability compensation totaled over $800 million for each year.

Our audit was in the fieldwork stage when the President of the U.S. issued the national emergency declaration concerning the novel coronavirus disease outbreak (COVID19) on March 13, 2020. The results of this audit do not reflect any process and/or operational changes that may have occurred as a result of the pandemic.

Findings

The Postal Service did not always properly pay injured employees who elected to receive continuation of pay prior to receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Using data analytics, we identified and selected all 155 transactions in which workers’ compensation claimants charged 80 or more continuation of pay hours to their timecards while they received workers’ compensation payments during calendar years 2018 and 2019. The Postal Service duplicated payments in 97 of 155 transactions by paying continuation of pay benefits directly to the injured employees and also reimbursing the DOL for workers’ compensation payments for the same workhours.

In addition, for 71 of the 97 transactions, the Postal Service provided continuation of pay benefits beyond the maximum 45-day limit. As a result, the Postal Service overpaid these injured employees $126,202.

Further, the Postal Service did not always process OWCP claims accurately and timely. We statistically selected a sample of 207 out of 439,491 transactions between January 2018 and December 2019 in which injured employees were paid by the Postal Service for normal workhours and also received workers’ compensation benefits for the same payroll period. The Postal Service processed 97.6 percent of the transactions properly; however, five transactions were not accurately or timely processed. Specifically:

  • Two injured employees’ supervisors did not timely inform Human Resources management that an employee returned to full-time work or was working hours in excess of those determined by the OWCP based on the disability. We referred one of these cases to our Office of Investigations for further review.
  • An injured employee claimed the same hours on two separate claims for compensation and Human Resources management approved both claims. We reviewed payroll records for four months prior to and after these two claims and did not identify any additional issues.
  • Two injured employees’ field supervisors did not enter OWCP-Leave Without Pay hours in the payroll system.

Management stated that field supervisors and district personnel missed these items during the payroll or claims approval process. In addition, the Postal Service workers’ compensation program is a manual process that heavily relies upon timely coordination and accurate information between district personnel, field supervisors, and employees.

Because the Postal Service did not process OWCP claims accurately and timely, we estimated it overpaid injured employees $3.9 million annually in workers’ compensation benefits during calendar years 2018 and 2019, and will overpay $3.9 million annually in calendar years 2020 and 2021 if corrective actions are not taken to address the issues.

Recommendations

We recommended management:

  • Reiterate to field supervisors the requirement to input continuation of pay hours in the payroll system.
  • Enhance systems to automatically calculate days of continuation of pay per employee and limit supervisor ability to enter continuation of pay hours when the 45-day limit is reached.
  • Reiterate to field supervisors the requirement to timely communicate to Human Resources management when injured employees return to work or experience change in pre-determined work hours; and to record workers’ compensation leave without pay hours.
  • Enhance relevant systems to provide automated tools and edit checks to reduce reliance on manual procedures during the payroll and claims approval process.

Read full report

Comments (29)

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  • anon

    I did not receive my cop payment for injury.

    Apr 19, 2021
  • anon

    I'm a 6+ year USPS employee working as a clerk in mail processing. I have had 3 on the job injuries in the last year and OWCP denied my claim for all. I had no lost time for the first two, just ER treatment. They denied and I'm paying the expenses. I just got injured 12/21/2020 on the job and have been off work without compensation since. My Supervisors lied about circumstances and said that I didn't report it to them. I have had to get a lawyer, and pay him up front, just to try and get medical treatment for my injury. Treatment doesn't inspire me to want to continue my work with USPS. I'm exploring a different career path. I'm a honest person and it angers me to work with people that have no integrity and only care about getting over,

    Mar 25, 2021
  • anon

    I had a work related injury that was excepted I have now retired and I am looking for medical help what happens now after you retire Retired United States Postal Service

    Mar 19, 2021
  • anon

    Taken to medical clinic by USPS on January 22, 2021 after injured from fall on the job. After 45 days, medical clinic has still not sent Medical Report to OWCP. Medical clinic states Medical Report was submitted. Claims examiner at OWCP says no narrative Medical Report has been received and that status is closed. What is claimant suppose to do to receive proper care, treatment and pay?

    Mar 08, 2021
  • anon

    I was injured on the job back in December 2020 and had to go to 3 different doctors before one was approved to see postal employees. I left the post office in January it's now March and my doctor sent me a letter stating my worker's comp has been denied and the week I had to be off from work I also never got my pay. I'd like to know why all this has happened and why my claim was denied. I lost money and time do to negligence of my office putting off my paperwork for my claim.

    Mar 05, 2021
  • anon

    If I got hurt on the job in the postal service and was out a long period of time, who notifies my health plan when i go back to work, the post office or me. am i responsible for the paperwork not getting done telling them that i am back at work. so they can take out health benefits from my paycheck or is management responsible? they want me to pay $5000.00 to my health benefits plan because they never told them i was back at work.

    Feb 18, 2021
  • anon

    My girlfriend got hurt while working and they put her on light duty just delivering mail driving and can't walk. She has not be getting 40 hours a week because they are making her do physical therapy. They told her that she can not be paid workers compensation for the hours she couldn't work to hit 40 without using her sick time or annual leave. Is that correct? Because her shop Stewart is saying that there is nothing she can do without losing all of her annual time

    Feb 08, 2021
  • anon

    OWCP has not paid me for almost 2 months of pay.

    Jan 18, 2021
  • anon

    Get a hold of your case manager they are the ones that will direct you on what your postmaster will have to fill out it should be a ca1

    Feb 03, 2021
  • anon

    I been a CCA for a year and a three . I was injured while working and out of worked for three and half month’s .While under a doctors care and having several procedures done I applied for PUA and UC. I was denied both. My postmaster asked a note from my doctor about my condition and weather it was Covid related. I did that and should have been paid 75 percent of my pay. I received NOTHING! I was told by the postmaster that someone wanted me to resign! Even though I wasn’t 100 percent I ask my doctor for a note go back to work. To matters worse I’m back working and while delivering mail I fell through a porch. I notified my supervisor he came out seen the condition of the property and proceeded to ask questions take pictures. For people to have TITLES they failed to give me all the proper paperwork to receive treatment. How am I supposed to handle this matter ? There is more

    Jan 14, 2021
  • anon

    I have an issue with being a USPS employee that was injured on the job in October 2015 and was never compensated by the USPS as it was put in writing and signed by my then supervisor Gwendolyn High. What could be done to rectify this situation with USPS and OWCP, because there is a lot of explaining that should be done about this situation?

    Dec 28, 2020
  • anon

    I was injures on the job at the station a year ago and my supervisor told me by me being there only 30 days not to mention it to anyone and for me to leave and them come back when i am able to work. I need help with this situation.

    Dec 27, 2020
  • anon

    RCA working out of one office and I was injured bitten by two dogs and working in another office in a different state now I'm supposed to be getting continuous of pay but 4 weeks later I'm still not getting paid and they're still fighting on which one is going to pay me which office postmaster supervisors I need help ASAP what do I do nobody wants to work with me

    Dec 11, 2020
  • anon

    How about. Getting rear ended while delivering mail and they refuse to pay the medical bill.

    Dec 10, 2020
  • anon

    I have injure from March 3 2020 But I don’t have income from utopia now

    Nov 28, 2020
  • anon

    I was injured very badly at work which caused me to missed work. I can I find out if I'm getting covered for the time of me being out of work?

    Nov 19, 2020
  • anon

    I was injured on the job in 2018 and I just found about COP. I looked in my paperwork after finding it out and it was checked on the paper but never received anything. And now 2 1/2 years later my PM sent me home because he said he didn’t have any work for me he will not send it in writing to DOL so I can get paid for those months I was out. Now I’m back at work part time and he won’t even give me the job offer or send it to DOL. So how do I get paid? I told the union and they said they don’t handle OWCP. I’m confused

    Oct 24, 2020
  • anon

    You should go to your injury compensation office and they should handle it

    Jan 16, 2021
  • anon

    That's not true. They can grieve ANYTHING...however, they'll tell you that to discourage you to file a grievance. I suggest you read over the contract regarding the grievance process.

    Nov 08, 2020
  • anon

    I was forced to retire under disability in 2009, after being injured in 2005, during these years I lost hundreds of hours of work and did not get any compensation. My personnel person told me to submit the paper work for pay but when I did she kicked it back to me saying I had to break down the hours for W.C. but this was for years and I could not remember what hours where LWOP, or comp related hours so I didn't try anymore. With my papers submitted O used my SS earnings profile they send you and it shows what my earnings were during those years. Easy way to show lose of wages for that time. Very frustrated to know that I could have gotten those lost wages.

    Oct 15, 2020
  • anon

    Call your union rep and ask for something called an "everything report" for the time period. This will show all of your clock in a clock out hours and you will be able to use this as a reference to fill out your paperwork

    Oct 19, 2020
  • anon

    Both the injured employee department and the DOL need to enhance their notification systems. As well both need to be on the same page. This is now the second time I am going without a DOL compensation check due to one or the other not knowing that there is info needed to process the compensation check. First time I went 72 days without pay after surgery. Dol case worker didn’t know I had filed for compensation until I called. Now that I am back to work on limited duty, Dol needs my gross pay from my cluster, I called on the last day and spoke with my local case worker she was unaware those papers were there stating the request. Dol stated this is normal process to receive attachment showing gross pay with CA-7A so I don’t understand why this wasn’t part of normal process when a CA-7A is submitted. So again I am going without compensation, however they are working on it because I the injured employee prompted the action.

    Oct 14, 2020
  • anon

    We didn't ask to go from making 90k on overt time 'for the good of the service or face discipline for refusing overtime' to 30k as a result of destroying our bodies to get this mail out resulting in permanent life long injuries and life long pain as a result. The NRP is still in full effect in the form of never ending obstacles to simple compensation for doctor ordered and explained need for LWOP absences. Lost my home this month in the middle of COVID closures to these never ending games by the USPS/OWCP offices. Do they really think we are 'too lazy' to walk from box to box with pieces of paper making over $30 an hour and prefer fighting month to month for compensation? Do they really think we are faking our injuries despite MRI's and X-rays showing how broken our bodies have become as a result of decades of carrying this mail? I advice all postal employees to turn down every last minute of over time, it is not worth sinking into poverty when you get injured for these people who have a rigged system from top to bottom to deny you compensation once your pack mule services cause permanent disabilities. Do it for us, those who have been abused for years by a system that threatens claims examiners for doing exactly what they are hired for. The Chicago OWCP district office is the worst. When do the congressional hearings begin. I WANT IN

    Oct 05, 2020
  • anon

    During 2016 after an on the job injury I file a CA1 and check the box for COP , never got paid , after HR told them to pay , they ignored it, still no payment, because of my LWOP it affected my earn leave , after I left I asked the PM to pay me my COP he told me take it up with OWCP, then my SSDI was garnish to repay that leave used for medical injury , I paid over 4,000.00...

    Oct 04, 2020
  • anon

    What about the thousands of NRP claims that the postal service has refused to pay out for the last 2 years after LOSING a class action law suit that they drug out for over 10 years regarding IOD employees and the ILLEGAL actions they took against them? Maybe the OIG needs to take care of that problem which is racking up interest as we speak instead of worrying about a handful of piddley overpayments. The ILLEGAL NRP effected 130,000 injured employees and the Postal Service continues to LIE and STALL STALL STALL

    Oct 03, 2020
  • anon

    I am on owcp. I rec 80 hours of IOD on my work pay-stub most of the time, except on holidays. Whereas I get only 72 hours of IOD instead of the 80 hours I should be getting on my check stub. The people at DSM NDC simply do not seem to care to get this corrected, since this has been going on for some time now. The HR employee in charge of fixing this simply will not do her job, since she has me on his watch, or her. This HR employee simply says to me, "I have to be my own advocate to fixing this". Oh and how I tried. No communication from the HR supervisor/employee/etc., or and person at this DSM NDC plant..I have all records of my contacts in trying to fix this. Total thru the years, I may have over 1 year of wrongly inputted LWOP-IOD hours as going in as reg. LWOP and thus count against me at retirement. This gets old and is harassment. Now I call HR headquarters to file a complaint, which I was holding back on because of being wrongly terminated. Dave....

    Oct 02, 2020
  • anon

    To include veterans with mental health issues being harassed on a daily basis in a hostile work environment to the point of triple medications and being forced unemployable by the PTSD clinic . With eeo s continuously filed and ignored by opm and dol

    Oct 02, 2020
  • anon

    You need to type a letter up and send it to every congress critter and senator in the country. By filing EEO's against the DOL, who also oversees the EEO, you are complaining against the very people you are seeking help from. As a federal employee you'll have to lean on media outlets and representatives for the most basic justice. The ADA has never applied to the USPS. Thank you for your service and keep spreading the word about this companies treatment of the disabled. All potential hire's should know what they are getting into when they join the USPS.

    Oct 05, 2020
  • anon

    Could you tell me why no mention of the thousands of injured workers from the USPS in the NRP lawsuit that the Postal Service lost?

    Oct 02, 2020