|NALCs Compensation Department
NALC's Compensation Department provides information on the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) and its administration by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP), assists national business agents and through them branch officers who represent members before OWCP and/or the Postal Service on FECA issues, and provides direct representation to those members who appeal the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board.
The Compensation Department is unable to respond to inquiries from individual letter carriers except those with ECAB appeals. NALC members with questions about workers' compensation must contact their NALC National Business Agents.
OWCP suspends USPS access to claims information
Effective July 1, 2013, the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) severely restricted Postal Service access to information and documents associated with individual on-the-job injury claim files. OWCP did this as a result of a dispute with the Postal Service regarding Privacy Act regulations.
Information posted on OWCP’s website indicates that it took this action in order to protect the privacy of injured workers. It stresses that there will be no change in entitlement to benefits for postal employees. It anticipates that postal employees will not be able to rely on Postal Service Injury Compensation Specialists for information about their claims. Go here to link to the OWCP website: http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/.
While it is true that Postal Service Injury Compensation personnel will no longer have access to claim status information, there should be no adverse effect on injured workers. The Postal Service (including its injury compensation department) has never been permitted to actively participate in the claims adjudication process (other than a limited role in initial continuation-of-pay decisions). Instead, the OWCP has sole authority to decide on-the-job injury claims. Even though the Postal Service no longer has the capability to assist injured workers with case status information to help resolve problems with medical bills, wage-loss compensation payments, etc., that information remains readily available to injured workers.
The NALC national business agent (NBA) offices retain access to OWCP’s Agency Query System (AQS) even though that access has been withdrawn from the Postal Service. AQS is a web-based data source containing status information about specific claim files, including adjudication status, accepted diagnoses, wage-loss compensation claims, medical procedure authorizations and bill payments.
Employees with an internet connection can access OWCP’s Claimant Query System (CQS). This system is similar to AQS and provides a wealth of information about specific claim status. It can be accessed at: http://www.dol.gov/owcp/contacts/fecacont.htm.
OWCP can be contacted directly for claim status updates. Contact information is found at: http://www.dol.gov/owcp/contacts/fecacont.htm.
NALC members who seek advice or have questions about their on-the-job injury claims may contact their Branch OWCP specialist or their NBA’s office. The NALC remains committed to ensuring that its members are not adversely affected by OWCP’s suspension of Postal Service access to claim file information.
Major ECAB decision on OIG surveillance video
The Employees’ Compensation Appeals Board issued a decision on 9/26/12 (Docket 11-863) that addresses a number of issues involving Postal Service OIG surveillance videotape. All branch contract enforcers and injured worker advocates should be familiar with this important decision. It is important because it addresses a critical distinction between use of surveillance videotape for the purposes of 1) fraud investigation, and 2) claims development.
Click here to read more.
ECOMP: A new OWCP web-based portal
OWCP has implemented ECOMP, an on-line portal that allows claimants, representatives and others to use the Internet to 1) upload documents into existing claim files and 2) file new claims (CA-1’s and CAs-2’s) and claims for wage-loss compensation and schedule awards (CA-7’s).
The portal is accessed at this address:
ECOMP is separate from and in addition to Claimant Query System (CQS), Agency Query System (AQS) and the ACS bill-pay portal. OWCP has been planning to implement this new portal since at least December 2009. (Click here for background information.)
Initial attempts by letter carriers to use ECOMP demonstrate that the portal can be used by postal employees to upload documents into an existing case file, but that it is not activated yet for filing new claims or claims for wage-loss compensation (CA-1s, CA-2’s, CA-7s).
Uploading documents to the case file
Filing CA-1’s and CA-2’s (new claims) and CA-7s using the ECOMP portal
The Postal Service has established a business relationship with Align Networks to set up a program that provides physical therapy network services for employees with work related injuries and illnesses.
The Postal Service has held mandatory service talks around the country to pitch the program on the workroom floor.
The NALC is in the process of finding out more about both the program and the Service’s relationship with Align Networks. In the meantime, injured letter carriers should remember that the program is strictly voluntary.
If you are an injured letter carrier, high-quality physical therapy may significantly speed up your recovery and improve your prospects for long-term rehabilitation. While there are many excellent physical therapists, there are also many mediocre physical therapists. Often the physical therapist rather than the referring physician determines the actual therapeutic regimen to treat the accepted condition. Once OWCP authorizes physical therapy, it is important for you to choose a skilled physical therapist that will provide the proper course of therapy. In making the important choice of selecting a physical therapist, you are not required to go to any therapist in the Align Network. You and your doctor should make the choice that best serves you.
The Compensation Department will update this page as more information about Align Networks and its program with the Postal Service becomes available.
OWCP corrects confusion caused by USPS/Align Networks
Central Case Create:
OWCP’s new procedure
On Sept. 12, 2012, following concerns expressed by multiple federal unions, including the NALC, OWCP updated the guidance that it provides on-line to employing agencies regarding its Central Case Create procedure. The updated information clarifies significant issues regarding Claim Numbers, Form CA-7 and Form CA-16.
Click here for updated Central Case Create information.
Click here for background information.
Click here for OWCP guidance to employers on the Central Case Create system.
Click here for Central Case Create address.
New FECA regulations (effective August 29, 2011)
Claimant Query System (CQS) now available
Change in ECAB Appeal Time Limits
Increasing federal employment of individuals with disabilities - Executive Order
Information for injured workers and representatives
Laws, Publications and Manuals
Columns by the Director of Compensation printed in The Postal Record
Release to represent - NALC form for letter carriers' use
NALC Injury Compensation CD
What's New archive
OWCP-related information for contract enforcers
Grieving Separation-Disability (Summer 2012 NALC Activist)
Central Case Create
March 2008 Activist - An entire issue devoted to "Protecting Medical Privacy"
Guide to NRP
NALC Injury Compensation CD
Spring 2004 Activist
What's New archive