Workplace issues

Injured on the job

Director of Workers' Compensation

Director of Workers' Compensation

Articles by Kevin Card.

 

OWCP claims for COVID-19

A letter carrier who contracts COVID-19 while in the performance of their job duties would have the full coverage of the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA)  for related medical treatment and for wage loss or disability related to that condition or associated complications.

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The new law makes it easier for federal workers diagnosed with COVID-19 to establish coverage under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). Section 4016 of the law provides that a federal employee who is diagnosed with COVID-19 and carried out duties that required contact with patients, members of the public, or co-workers, or included a risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus during a covered period of exposure prior to the diagnosis, is deemed to have an injury that is proximately caused by employment. The impacts of this provision are as follows:

  1. Any COVID-19 claim filed under the FECA that was accepted for COVID-19 prior to March 12, 2021, is not impacted because coverage for benefits has already been extended. 
  1. Any COVID-19 claim filed under the FECA that was denied or withdrawn prior to March 12, 2021, is eligible for review under the new eligibility requirements. 
  1. Any COVID-19 claim filed under the FECA on or after March 12, 2021, will be reviewed solely under the new eligibility requirements. 

 What this Means to You

  1. If you previously filed a COVID-19 claim under the FECA that was accepted by OWCP, you can expect no change. 
  1. If you previously filed a COVID-19 claim under the FECA that was denied by OWCP based on a lack of federal exposure or a lack of medical evidence establishing causal relationship, you can expect to hear from our office in the next 30-45 days. 
  1. If you have never filed a COVID-19 claim under the FECA and you believe you have contracted COVID-19 as a result of your federal employment, you will need to file a CA-1 (Federal Employee's Notice of Traumatic Injury and Claim for Continuation of Pay/Compensation) through the Employees’ Compensation Operations and Management Portal (ECOMP). You can access ECOMP at: https://www.ecomp.dol.gov.

 While you can file your claim at any time, OWCP is currently updating ECOMP forms filing process to make it easier for you to file claims specifically for COVID-19, and we expect these updates to be fully implemented by March 26, 2021.

In preparation for filing your Notice of Traumatic Injury, you should view this instructional video to learn how to register and verify your identity, and this video to learn how to file a claim. Doing so now will speed the process when you are ready to file your claim.

OWCP Pharmacy Benefits Manager

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has begun implementation of a new contract to provide Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) services to the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) Program for all claims covered under FECA. Claimants will be receiving a card from OPTUM, OWCP's new PBM. More information can be found here.  

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. If you don't know who your steward is, you can contact your branch or national business agent's office here.

Online claim filing is here!

Injured letter carriers can now file claims electronically via OWCP’s ECOMP web portal. ECOMP allows employees to electronically file claim forms, compensation forms, track the status of forms or documents submitted through ECOMP, and electronically upload and submit documents to existing OWCP claim files. You can register and file claims from your home computer, tablet or cell phone. Go to the ECOMP website, https://www.ecomp.dol.gov/ and click on HELP on the upper right corner of the page. A drop-down menu has a User Guide for Injured Workers. Click on that link to access step-by-step instructions and instructional videos on registering in ECOMP and filing claim forms. You can find a letter carrier’s guide to registering here.

Watch the videos and then click on Register on the right hand side of the ECOMP home page.

The following instructions will help you file the right claim for your injury!

Filing a CA-1 for a Traumatic Injury

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. If this describes your injury you should file a claim as soon as possible.

The best way to file a claim is to register and file your claim using ECOMP, the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs electronic claim filing portal. You can find instructions on how to register in ECOMP here.  Filing electronically saves time and makes it easier to manage your claim and communicate with OWCP. You can register and file a claim on your smartphone, tablet or computer. If you don’t have a device to file a claim, the Postal Service must allow you to file your claim on a postal computer.

Once you have registered in ECOMP, you can file your claim. Here are instructions for Filing a CA-1 in ECOMP.

Notifying your supervisor and filing a claim

Immediately notify your supervisor of your injury and your intent to file a claim using ECOMP. Request your supervisor’s Postal Service email address to use in registering in ECOMP.

Once you have registered in ECOMP, go to the top of your dashboard and click New Claim. Follow the directions for filing a CA-1 claim for traumatic injury.

If you are filing the claim within one week of the injury, request form CA-16, Authorization for Examination and/or Treatment (must be supplied by your manager within 4 hours).

Request a CA-16.  The Postal Service is required by law to provide the CA-16 within four hours of your request. 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 8311

LONDON, KY 40742-8300

 

Request a 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. Request several copies of the CA-17 completed by your supervisor so you can take one to every medical appointment. Take one copy to your doctor and have them complete the right (side B) of the CA-17, listing any medical restrictions. Once your doctor has completed the CA-17, make a copy or take a picture of the completed CA-17 and give the original to your supervisor.

Filing a Paper Form CA-1

If you cannot register in ECOMP, 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.

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 your shop steward for assistance.

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).

Continuation of Pay

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:

1.   File your claim within 30 days of the date of injury

2.   Begin losing time within 45 days of the date of injury and,

3.   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 calendar days of COP are waiting days and you must use either sick /annual leave or Leave Without Pay, LWOP. After the three waiting days you will continue to get paid every two weeks as if you were working.

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.

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. The CA-17 normally provides enough medical evidence for the Postal Service to make you a job offer and entitle you to COP.

Step 4: Once your claim has been filed

The Postal Service has 10 business days to send your CA-1 claim to OWCP. Once OWCP receives the claim you will be sent a Case Create notification on your ECOMP dashboard or by mail. The Case Create notice has important information on the next steps needed in the claims process. 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.

OWCP's goal is to return each injured employee to work as soon as he or she is medically able. A properly completed CA-17 should 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. Make sure your doctor understands the physical nature of your job.

Take a CA-17 to every medical appointment, copy or take a picture of the completed form and give the original 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.

If the Postal Service offers you a job and you are uncertain if you can perform all of the duties of the job, you have the right to take the job offer to your doctor. If you are told to accept or refuse the job offer immediately, accept the job and write “under protest” next to your signature. Refusing a job offer can lead to termination of your benefits. If your doctor believes the job offer exceeds your limitations, he or she must write a medical report listing the specific duties of the job 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 notify you in ECOMP or mail you a development letter requesting more information. Development letters often list a series of questions for both you and your doctor to answer. Development letters always give you exactly 30 days from the date on the letter to respond.

It is important that you act quickly to respond 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. Claim Accepted

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.

When your COP has ended you should file a CA-7 claim for compensation. Postal regulations require Postal Service Health Resource Management (HRM) provide you with form CA-7 when you are on COP and it appears you will not return to work after 30 days.

You can file a CA-7, from your ECOMP dashboard by clicking New Claim. Submit a completed CA-7 every two weeks.

If you file a paper CA-7, take a picture or make a copy and give it to your supervisor or HRM office. Attach 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 injured 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.

Job Offers/ Returning to Work

The Postal Service has an obligation to make every effort to find you work within your restrictions. A 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. You can also 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. Claim Denied

If OWCP denies your claim, the denial letter will list the basis for the decision so you know what you need to appeal 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. If your claim is denied contact a branch officer or National Business Agent’s office immediately for help in your 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 successfully file a CA-2 Claim for Occupational Disease or Illness with the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP), the injured letter carrier needs to 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).

The first step in filing a CA-2 is writing a work narrative. A doctor needs to read the narrative and write a medical report that links the diagnosed injury to specific work factors.

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, give a copy of it to your doctor.

OWCP requires a “rationalized” medical report that describes the causal relationship between specific work factors and the diagnosed injury. OWCP will not accept a claim for a pain diagnosis. A rationalized report must be based on objective medical evidence such as tests, x-rays, or MRIs. The doctor should describe how specific work factors (reaching, carrying etc.) caused, aggravated or accelerated the diagnosed injury.

A doctor’s opinion must be made with “reasonable medical certainty.” Reasonable medical certainty is a bureaucratic term required by OWCP. Terms like “likely, probably or possibly” are insufficient and will result in the claim being denied.

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 ask your general practitioner for a referral.

Step 3: Submitting the CA-2

Filing a CA-2 in ECOMP

Once you have the medical narrative describing the causal relationship between your work and your medical condition, you are ready to file a CA-2, Notice of Occupational Disease.

The best way to file a claim is to register and file your claim using ECOMP, OWCP’s electronic claim filing portal. Filing electronically saves time and makes it easier to manage your claim and communicate with OWCP. You can register and file a claim on your smartphone, tablet or computer. If you don’t have a device to file a claim, the Postal Service must allow you to file your claim on a postal computer.

As you fill out the CA-2, you will come to question 11; Date you first became aware of the disease or illness. You can use the most recent date your particular injury was diagnosed. Question 12 asks the date you first realized the disease or illness was caused or aggravated by your employment. That would the date on your doctor’s medical report on causation.

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.

If you must file a paper form, you can print the form from OWCP’s website here or request the form from your supervisor.

Once you 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 8311
London, KY 40742 

The best way to send documents to OWCP is to directly upload the documents via OWCP’s web portal, ECOMP. Go to: https://www.ecomp.dol.gov/#. On the web page look under Need to Upload a Document, click on the blue Upload Documents icon. Follow the instructions on the next page. Once a document is uploaded, OWCP will assign a Document Control Number (DCN). Record the DCN and the date and time of the upload.

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.

Step 4: Once your claim has been filed

The Postal Service has 10 business days to send your CA-1 claim to OWCP. Once OWCP receives the claim you will be sent a Case Create notification on your ECOMP dashboard or by mail. The Case Create notice has important information on the next steps needed in the claims process. 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.

OWCP's goal is to return each injured employee to work as soon as he or she is medically able. A properly completed CA-17 should 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. Make sure your doctor understands the physical nature of your job.

Take a CA-17 to every medical appointment, copy or take a picture of the completed form and give the original 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.

If the Postal Service offers you a job and you are uncertain if you can perform all of the duties of the job, you have the right to take the job offer to your doctor. If you are told to accept or refuse the job offer immediately, accept the job and write “under protest” next to your signature. Refusing a job offer can lead to termination of your benefits. If your doctor believes the job offer exceeds your limitations, he or she must write a medical report listing the specific duties of the job 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 notify you in ECOMP or mail you a development letter requesting more information. Development letters often list a series of questions for both you and your doctor to answer. Development letters always give you exactly 30 days from the date on the letter to respond.

It is important that you act quickly to respond 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. Claim Accepted

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.

When your COP has ended you should file a CA-7 claim for compensation. Postal regulations require Postal Service Health Resource Management (HRM) provide you with form CA-7 when you are on COP and it appears you will not return to work after 30 days.

You can file a CA-7, from your ECOMP dashboard by clicking New Claim. Submit a completed CA-7 every two weeks.

If you file a paper CA-7, take a picture or make a copy and give it to your supervisor or HRM office. Attach 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 injured 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.

Job Offers/ Returning to Work

The Postal Service has an obligation to make every effort to find you work within your restrictions. A 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. You can also 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. Claim Denied

If OWCP denies your claim, the denial letter will list the basis for the decision so you know what you need to appeal 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. If your claim is denied contact a branch officer or National Business Agent’s office immediately for help in your appeal.

 

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.

OWCP appeals

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.

Schedule Awards

Submitting the Schedule Award Request: download here 

Tools for managing your OWCP claim

OWCP Forms

Form CA-1

Form CA-2

Form CA-7

Form CA-17

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.

ECOMP

ECOMP is OWCP’s electronic document filing portal for injured workers. This is the fastest way for you to upload documents and medical information directly to your file.

Registering with ECOMP

Prior to registering with ECOMP you should click on HELP on the upper right corner of the page. A drop-down menu has a User Guide for Injured Workers. There are step-by-step instructions and instructional videos on registering in ECOMP and filing claim forms.

Take the time to read the written description or watch the video.

When registering in ECOMP you will be asked what Government Organization you work for. Be sure to scroll down and choose the United States Postal Service. 

Once you have registered, you can sign in and file a claim. The website refers to filing an OSHA 301 report, as a postal employee you do not need to file an OSHA 301 report prior to filing a claim. When filing a CA-1 or CA-2 be sure to choose the United States Postal Service as your employing agency. A drop-down menu will ask you what state you are from. Choose the Postal District you work in.

Filing claims via ECOMP has advantages over filing a regular paper claim with your supervisor. Unlike the paper form, which has a limited space for describing the cause of the injury, ECOMP allows the injured worker to write a detailed statement describing the cause of the injury; what happened and why.

When you file a claim using ECOMP, OWCP sends a copy of the claim to your supervisor and the USPS Health Resource Management (HRM) office. The postal service then has ten working days to complete their portions of the form and submit it to OWCP.

Uploading documents

To access the system, log on to https://www.ecomp.dol.gov/

The left side of the page asks “Have you been hurt on the job?” Just below that is “Need to upload a document?”

Click on the blue Upload Documents icon.

The Upload Documents to Case page will open, asking for the case number, last name of the claimant, date of birth and date of injury. Once that information has been entered, follow the instructions to choose the document you want to upload.

You must scan a document to your computer before uploading it. If you are requesting information from OWCP or are providing requested information, be sure the document is signed and dated. There is a ten-page limit for each ECOMP upload. Use multiple uploads for longer files.

You will get a document control number (DCN) for every uploaded document. Either print the screen or record the DCN numbers for your file. The DCN numbers may be used to verify dates of submission for important documents, appeals etc.

You will find that once you are comfortable using ECOMP, you have the ability to add medical updates and answer OWCP requests in a fraction of the time it takes to print and mail them.

OWCP time limits are absolute, and OWCP normally gives a claimant 30 days to respond to a request. Thirty days go by quickly, and ECOMP can give you extra time to get necessary medical reports from your doctor.

Requesting your claim file

Once you have filed your claim and been assigned a claim number, OWCP will build a digital file containing all documents they have received related to your claim. The only way to access your entire file is to write to OWCP and request a copy of your file. OWCP will send you a CD containing everything in your file up to the date they copy the file. If you upload the request on ECOMP, you can usually get your file within one month.

You will want to request your file after there has been a decision in your case. Having a copy of the claim file is essential for appealing a denial and managing an accepted case.

There are two other ways to access your OWCP case information online.

Help with Billing Issues

OWCP’s bill payment system is handled by CNSI, a private contractor who processes bills and medical authorization requests. In most cases, claimants or their doctors can call CNSI at 844-493-1966 and get billing problems solved.

Once a doctor registers with CNSI, they are prohibited from requesting reimbursement from the injured worker. Doctors, hospitals and collection agencies seeking payment should be referred to CNSI.

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:

https://www.osha.gov/ whistleblower/WBComplaint.html.

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. 

Useful links


NALC National Business Agent offices

You can find your national business agent’s office here

The NALC/OWCP folder

Workers’ compensation claims generate a lot of documents from doctors, the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) and the postal service. Keeping track of those documents is essential for successfully filing and maintaining OWCP claims. The NALC has developed a folder for injured workers and their representatives to use in the OWCP claims process.

The OWCP folders offer injured workers a place to store documents and valuable information for successfully filing a claim.

The front of the folder has a place to list important contact information, claim facts like type of claim (CA-1, CA-2), claim number and date of injury. There is also check boxes for possible postal grievances and OWCP appeals.

The inside of the folder has checklists for important documents necessary in CA-1 traumatic injury and CA-2 occupational disease claims. Explanations of OWCP appeal routes are also on the inside page.

Branches can order OWCP folders from the NALC’s supply department by calling (202) - 393-4695.

FECA COLA

April 13

Contract COLA: Accumulated COLA is $562 through March 2021

The projected accumulation toward the fourth regular COLA under the 2019-2023 National Agreement stood at $562 annually in April following the release of the March 2021 Consumer Price Index.

On April 13, 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W, 1967=100) stood at 771.287 in March, 25.911 points above the base level of 745.376 in July 2019. The accumulated COLA through March stood at 27 cents per hour or$562 annually.

The fourth COLA will be based on the increase in the CPI-W between the base index month and July 2021, less any previously calculated COLAs, and will be payable the second full pay period following the release of the July 2021 index. The three COLAs that have been calculated under the 2019-2023 National Agreement, totaling 49 cents per hour, are as follows: 1st COLA, 8 cents per hour ($166 annually), 2nd COLA, 9 cents per hour ($188 annually), and the 3rd COLA, 20 cents per hour ($416 annually). The third COLA will be effective February 27, 2021, the second full pay period following the release of the January 2021 CPI. All three COLAs will paid retroactively to their contractual effective dates.

2022 Retiree COLAs Projection: 2.2% as of March 2021

The 2022 COLAs for CSRS and FERS benefits are based on the increase in the average CPI-W between the 3rd quarter of 2020 (253.412) and the 3rd quarter of 2021 (TBA).

Based on the March 2021 CPI-W (1982-84) of 258.935 the 2022 CSRS and FERS COLAs are currently projected to be 2.2%. The 2022 retiree COLA calculation will be finalized in October 2021 with the release of the CPI-W for September 2021.

CSRS annuities receive full COLAs; COLAs for FERS annuities are payable for retirees 62 and older and may be reduced by up to one percentage point from the increase in the CPI.

2022 FECA COLA Projection: 1.9% as of March 2021

Based on the release of the February 2021 CPI-W (1982-84=100), the 2022 FECA COLA projection is 1.9%. The March 2021 CPI-W of 258.935 was 1.9% above the December 2020 base index (254.081). The 2022 FECA COLA calculation will be finalized when the December 2021 CPI-W is published during the month of January 2022.

FECA COLAs are applicable only in cases where death or disability occurred more than one year prior to the adjustment’s effective date.