DOL Releases Final Rule Updating Procedures for Federal Workers’ Compensation Act Claims

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs released a final rule Tuesday that revises and modernizes the procedures used in administering claims under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act. The rule, published in the June 28 Federal Register, modernizes those procedures to increase fairness and efficiency, updates the regulations to account for recent statutory changes and incorporates advances in technology that preserve administrative resources.

“This is the first substantial change to the FECA regulations since 1999,” said OWCP acting Director Gary Steinberg. “The new regulations take advantage of technological and other changes that will improve the fairness and efficiency of the claims process.”

The rule also clarifies a number of current practices. Updates include acknowledging reorganization within the department and incorporating statutory changes, such as the new FECA death gratuity benefit. Changes also have been made to existing policies to improve the benefit program and lessen burdens on claimants.

Additionally, the rule adds the skin as a covered organ retroactive to Sept. 11, 2001, under the act’s schedule award provision, providing up to 205 weeks of compensation for burns, cancers, and other medical conditions that impair the skin’s function. The administrative and procedural changes include requiring employing agencies to file claims electronically by the end of 2012 and allowing for the use of video and teleconferences in hearings, as well as changes to the medical approval and procurement procedures.

The final rule can be viewed at;   http://s.dol.gov/GI.