Federal Workers Compensation Appeal Rights
Federal Workers Compensation is an entirely different system than your traditional state workers compensation. Federal Workers Compensation is for employees of the Federal Government and claims are handled by the Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP) within the US Department of Labor and Industry.
So, what happens in you are an injured Federal Government employee, you get injured at work, and OWCP subsequently denies your claim? Does a Federal Government employee have any appeal rights? The answer is — YES, they do. Essentially, there are three appeal avenues. All three carry different ramifications and timelines.
- Request for an Oral Hearing or Written Record Review. An injured Federal employee can request an oral hearing or a written record review with the Branch of Hearings and Review. This avenue has a deadline of 30 days from the date of the final decision by OWCP. Testimony at oral hearings can be done in person or by telephone, teleconference, or video conference. Hearings are often useful because a Hearing Representative from outside the District Office that denied the claim will evaluate the Decision. The in injured worker CAN submit new evidence at the hearing, either through testimony or documents. The Hearing Representative will usually ask questions. If the injured worker chooses to, he/she can opt to waive the right to appear and instead request a Review of the Written Record. Unless a decision is reversed, a claimant will only have one chance at a hearing. It could take 8 or more months to get an oral hearing scheduled. Finally, a Hearing must be requested BEFORE any Reconsideration on the matter. If a Reconsideration has already been filed on the same matter, the there is no right to an Oral Hearing.
- Request for Reconsideration. An injured worker can also file a Request for Reconsideration. You can certainly submit additional evidence or legal arguments to establish your claim, within a reconsideration. A reconsideration request must be made within one year of the date of the OWCP decision. Reconsideration will be handled by supervisory claims examiners located in the same District Office that issued Decision denying the claim.
- Appeal to the Employees Compensation Appeal Board (ECAB). The ECAB is an appellate body in the Department of Labor separate and apart from OWCP. This should be the LAST appeal resort, because the ECAB decision is FINAL. The ECAB WILL NOT consider new evidence. Thus, this level of appeal should not be completed until such time that there is no new evidence that would support the claim. Request for review by the ECAB must be made within 180 days from the date of this decision. You can appeal tot he ECAB a decision of an OWCP hearing representative, an OWCP decision from an Oral Hearing or review of the written record, or following a decision on a Motion for Reconsideration. Time frame wise, the ECAB usually takes 10 to 12 months to issue its decision. It is important to note that once ECAB makes a final ruling on your case, you cannot appeal it and you cannot seek recourse from another federal agency. It is final.
Those are the three avenues to appeal a Federal Workers Compensation denial.
Each level of appeal has its own complexity. If you are an injured Federal employee and your claim has been denied, and you are a Pennsylvania or Maryland resident, call Mooney & Associates today for a consultation on how we can help you. You can contact Mooney & Associates at 717-200-HELP or 1-877-632-4656.