Federal Employment Compensation Act
FECA provides workers' compensation coverage to three million Federal and Postal
workers around the world for employment-related injuries and occupational diseases.
Employees injured in the performance of duty are given workers' compensation benefits,
which include wage-loss benefits for total or partial disability, monetary benefits for
permanent loss of use of a schedule member, medical benefits, and vocational
Benefits include wage replacement, payment for medical care, and where necessary,
medical and vocational rehabilitation assistance in returning to work. This Act also
provides survivor benefits to eligible dependents if the injury causes the employee's
Coverage of the Act
In general, the Federal Employees Compensation Act covers any civilian officer or
employee of any branch of the government of the United States. The Act also extends
coverage to certain classes of individuals who render a personal service to the United
States, such as Peace Corps or VISTA volunteers; those enrolled in the Job Corps; some
members of the Civil Air Patrol and the Reserve Officers Training Corps; some federal
jurors and even non-federal law enforcement officers injured or killed in connection with
An employee is entitled to medical, surgical and hospital services and supplies needed for
treatment of an injury as well as transportation for obtaining care.
Choice of physician
The injured employee has initial choice of physician and may select any qualified local
physician or hospital to provide necessary treatment or may use agency medical facilities
if available. Except for referral by the attending physician, any change in treating
physician after the initial choice must be authorized by OWCP. Otherwise, OWCP will
not be liable for the expenses of treatment.
Payment for chiropractic services is limited to treatment consisting of manual
manipulation of the spine to correct a subluxation as demonstrated by x-ray to exist. If the
physician selected has been excluded from participating in the Compensation Program
the OWCP District Office will advise the employee of the exclusion and the need to
select another physician.
In FY 2006, 139,874 new cases were created. The program provided 264,000 workers
and survivors approximately $2.4 billion in benefits for work-related injuries or illnesses.
Of these benefit payments, over $1.6 billion was for wage-loss compensation, $668
million for medical and rehabilitation services, and $129 million for death benefit
payments to surviving dependents.
Compensation for Temporary or Total Disability
Conditions to be fulfilled to avail compensation
If you are an injured worker, you can expect timely adjudication of your
1. For traumatic injuries, this means a decision within 45 days of receipt in all but
the most complex cases.
If disability continues beyond 45 days or the employee is not entitled to
continuation of pay, the employee may use sick or annual leave or enter a leave
without pay status and claim compensation from OWCP.
2. For simple occupational illness cases, a decision will be issued within 90 days of
3. For most occupational illness cases, which require more extensive evidentiary
development, a decision should be forthcoming within six months of receipt.
4. For very complex occupational illness cases, a decision should be rendered within
10 months of receipt.
Compensation for loss of wages
Compensation for loss of wages may not be paid until after a three-day waiting period,
except when permanent effects result from the injury or where the disability causing
wage loss exceeds 14 calendar days. Compensation is generally paid at the rate of 2/3 of
the salary if the employee has no dependents and 3/4 of the salary if one or more
dependents are claimed.
Definition of ‘dependent’
The term "dependent" includes a husband, wife, unmarried child under 18 years of age,
and a wholly dependent parent. An unmarried child may qualify as a dependent after
reaching the age of 18 if incapable of self-support by reason of mental or physical
disability, or as long as the child continues to be a full-time student at an accredited
institution, until he or she reaches the age of 23 or has completed four years of education
beyond the high school level.
Compensation for Permanent Effects of Injury :-
Injury as defined under the relevant provision
The Act provides a schedule of benefits for permanent impairment of certain members,
functions and organs of the body such as the eye, arm, or kidney and for serious
disfigurement of the head, face or neck.
In addition, compensation for loss of earning capacity may be paid if the employee is
unable to resume regular work because of injury-related disability. This compensation is
paid on the basis of the difference between the employee's capacity to earn wages after an
injury and the wages of the job he or she held when injured.
OWCP may arrange for vocational rehabilitation and provide a maintenance allowance
not to exceed $200 per month. A disabled employee participating in an OWCP-approved
training or vocational rehabilitation program is paid at the compensation rate for total
disability. If the employee's condition requires a constant attendant, an additional amount
not to exceed $1500 per month may be allowed.
Compensation for Death :-
Amount of compensation
If death results from an injury sustained in the performance of duty, the United States
shall pay a monthly compensation equal to a percentage of the monthly pay of the
deceased employee in accordance with the following schedule:
If no child is eligible for benefits, the widow or widower's compensation is 50 percent of
the employee's pay at the time of death, if death was due to the employment-related
injury or disease. If a child or children are eligible for benefits, the widow or widower is
entitled to 45 percent of the pay and each child is entitled to 15 percent. If children are
the sole survivors, 40 percent is paid for the first child and 15 percent for each additional
child, to be shared equally. Other persons such as dependent parents, brothers, sisters,
grandparents, and grandchildren may also be entitled to benefits. The total compensation
may not exceed 75 percent of the employee's pay or the pay of the highest step for GS-15
of the General Schedule, except when such excess is created by authorized cost-of-living
Burial expenses not to exceed $800 are payable. Transportation of the body to the
employee's former residence in the United States is provided where death occurs away
from the employee's home station. In addition to any burial expenses or transportation
costs, a $200 allowance is paid for the administrative costs of terminating an employee's
status with the Federal Government.
Compensation to spouse
Compensation to an employee's surviving spouse terminates upon his or her death or
remarriage. A widow or widower's benefits continue, however, if the remarriage takes
place after the age of 55. Awards to children, brothers, sisters and grandchildren
terminate at the age of 18, unless the dependent is incapable of self-support, or continues
to be a full-time student at an accredited institution, until he or she reaches the age of 23,
or has completed four years of education beyond the high school level.
Cost-of-Living Increases :-
Measurable according to the Consumer Price Index -
Compensation payments on account of a disability or death which occurred more than
one year before March 1 of each year are increased on that date by any percentage change
in the Consumer Price Index published for December of the preceding year.
Compensation schedule as reproduced from the Act is as follows:
If there is permanent disability involving the loss, or loss of use, of a member or function
of the body or involving disfigurement, the employee is entitled to basic compensation
for the disability, as provided by the schedule in subsection (c) of this section 8.107, at
the rate of 662/3 percent of his monthly pay
(1) Arm lost 312 weeks' compensation.
(2) Leg lost 288 weeks' compensation.
(3) Hand lost 244 weeks' compensation.
(4) Foot lost 205 weeks' compensation.
(5) Eye lost 160 weeks' compensation.
(6) Thumb lost 75 weeks' compensation.
(7) First finger lost 46 weeks' compensation.
(8) Great toe lost 38 weeks' compensation.
(9) Second finger lost 30 weeks' compensation.
(10) Third finger lost 25 weeks' compensation.
(11) Toe other than great toe lost, 16 weeks' compensation.
(12) Fourth finger lost 15 weeks' compensation.
(13) Loss of hearing--
(A) complete loss of hearing of one ear, 52 weeks' compensation
(B) complete loss of hearing of both ears, 200 weeks' compensation.
(14) Compensation for loss of binocular vision or for loss of 80 percent or more of the
vision of an eye is the same as for loss of the eye.
(15) Compensation for loss of more than one phalanx of a digit is the same as for loss of
the entire digit. Compensation for loss of the first phalanx is one-half of the
compensation for loss of the entire digit.
(16) If, in the case of an arm or a leg, the member is amputated above the wrist or ankle,
compensation is the same as for loss of the arm or leg, respectively.
(17) Compensation for loss of use of two or more digits, or one or more phalanges of
each of two or more digits, of a hand or foot, is proportioned to the loss of use of the hand
or foot occasioned thereby.
(18) Compensation for permanent total loss of use of a member is the same as for loss of
(19) Compensation for permanent partial loss of use of a member may be for
proportionate loss of use of the member. The degree of loss of vision or hearing under
this schedule is determined without regard to correction.
(20) In case of loss of use of more than one member or parts of more than one member as
enumerated by this schedule, the compensation is for loss of use of each member or part
thereof, and the awards run consecutively. However, when the injury affects only two or
more digits of the same hand or foot, paragraph (17) of this subsection applies, and when
partial bilateral loss of hearing is involved, compensation is computed on the loss as
affecting both ears.
(21) For serious disfigurement of the face, head, or neck of a character likely to handicap
an individual in securing or maintaining employment, proper and equitable compensation
not to exceed $3,500 shall be awarded in addition to any other compensation payable
under this schedule.
(22) For permanent loss or loss of use of any other important external or internal organ of
the body as determined by the Secretary, proper and equitable compensation not to
exceed 312 weeks' compensation for each organ so determined shall be paid in addition
to any other compensation payable under this schedule.
Settlements with Third Parties :-
Third party - Other than United States
Where an employee's injury or death in the performance of duty occurs under
circumstances placing a legal liability on a party other than the United States, a portion of
the cost of compensation and other benefits paid by OWCP must be refunded from any
settlement obtained. OWCP will assist in obtaining the settlement and the Act guarantees
that the employee may retain a certain proportion of the settlement (after any attorney
fees and costs are deducted) even when the cost of compensation and other benefits
exceeds the amount of the settlement.
The Air Force Injury Compensation Program is based on the Federal
Employees' Compensation Act (FECA). FECA provides monetary compensation,
medical care and assistance, vocational rehabilitation, and retention rights to all
Federal employees who sustain disabling injuries, including occupational disease
or illness, as a result of their employment regardless of the type of appointment or
length of employment.
Appeal Rights :-
An employee or survivor who disagrees with a final determination of OWCP may request
an oral hearing or a review of the written record from the Branch of Hearings and
Review. Oral and/or written evidence in further support of the claim may be presented.
The employee may also request a reconsideration of a decision by submitting a written
request to the District Office which issued the decision. The request must be
accompanied by evidence not previously submitted. If reconsideration has been
requested, a hearing on the same issue may not be granted. The employee or survivor
may also request review by the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB).
Because the ECAB rules solely on the evidence of record at the time the decision was
issued, no additional evidence may be presented.
Liability under the Act
The liability under the Act is exclusive as per the respective provisions of this Act and
irrespective of any other liability under any other legal proceeding.
Administration of FECA :-
The Federal Employees' Compensation Act provides workers' compensation coverage to
three million Federal and Postal workers including wage replacement, medical and
vocational rehabilitation benefits for work-related injury and occupational disease.
FECA's low administrative cost means that overhead is only 4% of benefits, and Federal
workers compensation costs are only 1.8% of total Federal and Postal payroll, compared
to 2.3% for private insurance and state funds. FECA is:
A COST-EFFECTIVE SELF-INSURANCE SYSTEM
FECA is a highly cost-effective self-insurance system. Overhead is low, and, the
Federal government avoids time-consuming and expensive litigation, which in
some non-Federal workers' compensation systems can amount to as much as 46%
PUTTING CUSTOMERS FIRST
FECA is a customer-service-oriented, high performance workplace.
A NON-ADVERSARIAL SYSTEM
Disputes under the FECA are resolved through informal conferences or formal
reconsideration at the district office level, through administrative hearing, or
review by the independent Employees' Compensation Appeals Board whose
decision is final. Thus employers avoid high legal costs and time-consuming
litigation. The very heavy expense which is a common feature of the non-Federal
Worker’s Compensation systems is absent here.
How the Program is Funded ?
Employing agencies are responsible for reimbursing the Division of Federal Employees'
Compensation for their workers' compensation expenses. This reimbursement occurs
once each year through the chargeback process.
The administrative cost of the services provided by the Division of Federal Employees'
Compensation is very low. Overhead is just 4% of benefits, and Federal workers'
compensation costs are only 1.8% of total Federal and Postal payrolls, compared to 2.3%
for private insurance and state funds.
Also, because disputes in claims under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act are
resolved administratively, the Federal government avoids time-consuming and expensive
litigation, which in some non-Federal workers' compensation systems can account for as
much as 46% of payout.