DOL OWCP - all about Office of Workers' Compensation Program


- all you need to know about Workers' Compensation Programs

Think about a situation that you are a US citizen and are busy working in your office, but due to unforeseen circumstances, you met with an accident that gave you a long-lasting injury or catches a fatal disease which ultimately deprives you of going back to the workplace. In this case, the Department of Labor's (DOL) Office of Workers' Compensation Program (OWCP) will be responsible for compensating you for the work-related disability and reaching out them will be a right option for you.

OCWP key motto is to safeguard the interests of workers, who have faced an injury in job premises, by providing necessary reimbursement to them. To achieve this motive, DOL OWCP offers income replacement benefits, vocational rehabilitation opportunities, provide medical treatment and other assistances to the workers who have suffered either an on-job injury or an occupational disease. However, if you do not know enough about OWCP then this guide will help you to better understand how it works and what compensation services they have to offer to injured labors.

How Does the program work

The OWCP was established by the US Department of Labor in the year 1916. From its inception, the program is dedicated for administering the workers' reimbursement program, which is associated with providing the benefits for occupational injuries and illnesses to the federal employees as well as to the other selected/eligible employee groups. Additionally, OWCP also responsibly manages the funds allocated for this purpose. The authority is aimed to provide the compensation to workers who fulfill the following criteria after undergoing the work-related injury or sickness:

  • Failing to receive income because for being out of work.
  • Reduced chances to return back to work.
  • Loss of pay due to permanent disability.
  • Temporary or permanent displacement from the former employment.
  • Reduced capacity to get a new job.
  • The acute need for passable medical care.

Thus, if someone gets injured and meets the criterion developed by OWCP then he/she can claim the reimbursement services granted by the government-based entity. OWCP compensatory services could significantly soothe the pain of the worker caused by facing the adversary at the workplace.

Types of Claims which could be made Under DOL OWCP and Respective Procedure Compensation Claim for Traumatic Injury

The federal employees can raise a traumatic injury claim caused by the incident/accident. The traumatic injury can be defined as the wound that happens to labor due to accident occurred at the workplace. This claim is denoted by CA-1 i.e. federal employee's notice for traumatic injury and the continuance of pay/reimbursement. The claim must be initiated by the worker within thirty days of injury. Then the supervisor needs to review the injury claim within ten days. Moreover, the claim should encompass doctor's notes and required treatment details. Finally, the claim must be submitted electronically to DOL.

Compensation Claim for Occupational Illness/Disease

This type of recompense claim usually occurs due to illness or disease being caught by labor in his/her work environment. Occupational illness claim come under type CA-2 i.e. notice for occupational disease and the corresponding claim for recompense. The claim has to be embarked by the employee within thirty days after knowing about the disease. Then the claim must be forwarded to the supervisor of the organization so that he can review it within the time span of ten days. After reviewing and analyzing the claim, the supervisor will forward it to the human resource department. Similar to traumatic injury, the claim must contain the doctor's notes and related treatment procedure.


Office of Workers' Compensation Program has initiated four major programs, which fulfils the mission of giving compensation to workers who get injured or ill at the office. These programs are as follows:

Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) Program

The FECA program covers all civilians and citizens of the US who are employed, except those who get a salary from the nonappropriated funds. The program was established in 1916 and has celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016. FECA provides income-loss compensation, return-to-work assistance, medical treatment, and vocational rehabilitation to injured federal civilian employees as well as other chosen groups. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, approximately 89.5 percent of federal employees with lethal injuries returned back to work within a time span of only two years after their injury. The compensation claim under FECA has five requirements:

  • Ensure timely filing of the claim.
  • The worker has to be a federal civilian employee.
  • The fact of injury must be present with the claim.
  • Performance of duty.
  • Causal relationship.

Long-shore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (long-shore)

This program provides relatable benefits to wounded private sector labors who are employed in a maritime or related job. This comprises of local and overseas contract personnel who underpin the U.S. government in abroad. Long-shore program has received more than 24,000 new injury claims in FY16. Over the last five years, this program has successfully facilitated the wage replacement compensation, provided medical treatment assistance, and vocational rehabilitation benefits to about 73,000 injured workers belonging to the private sector and also the death benefits to their dependents.

The Black Lung Benefits Act (Black Lung)

The Black Lung venture of DOL OWCP is responsible for providing the monetary compensation and medical benefits to miners who have caught coal mine pneumoconiosis aka “the black lung disease”. In FY 2016, this program has provided reimbursement and medical benefits to nearly 32,000 recipients.

Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Act

The Energy Act was passed in the year 2001. The act ensures the delivery of the wage-loss payment and medical benefits to employees (or their dependents) belonging to the Department of Energy (DOE). This program is developed especially for the ones who are diagnosed with cancer and any other vocational illnesses caused by exposure to harmful radiations or toxic substances.

OWCP Performance

Since 1996, Disability Management (DM) practices have lessened the time frame between reporting of new injury case and correspondingly return-to-work. This is because of the current practice of OWCP, which urges that as soon as a new injury claim has been reported the nurse will immediately meet the wounded worker and serve him/her as the human face of Office of Workers' Compensation Program. After analyzing the case, the nurse will coordinate the medical care and resolve the return-to-work issues. If this tactic does not ensure an early return to work, then the case will be shifted to the vocational rehabilitation department to provide an intensive medical intervention. Vocational rehabilitation counselors are responsible for helping the injured workers to swiftly find a new job. In this perspective, the counselors arrange training to find adequate employers for labors. Furthermore, the Periodic Roll Management (PRM) staff will reassess the changes in the medical condition of the worker after some time and accordingly suggest the treatment to them.

Table 1 below shows the performance of Office of Workers' Compensation Program based on a number of claims reported each year i.e. 113,782, 114,316, 112,332 claims for the years 2013, 2014, and 2015 respectively. The results quite promising and organization will continue to improve its position. This signifies that so far OWCP venture has benefited numerous workers in the US.

Table 1: OWCP Disability Management and Periodic Roll Performance for 2013, 2014, & 2015

FY 2015

FY 2014

FY 2013

Disability Management

Number of injured employees who return back to work due to timely nursing intervention.




Placement of number of injured labors in a novel or previous job by rehabilitation counselors.




Periodic Roll Reviews

Number of disability cases that have either been resolved or reduced to an extent that adjustment of benefits or return to work was possible.




Savings as a result of adjustment or termination of benefits because of PRM.

$2.3 Million

$2.4 Million

$2.8 Million

OWCP's Strategic Goals for Future

It has been estimated that for the forthcoming five years, approximately one million labors (or their immediate family members) will depend on OWCP to seek out the benefits for on job-related injury or disease. During this difficult period, DOL will recompense over $22.5 billion regarding wage loss, medical treatment, and rehabilitation for suffering workers. To successfully meet these objectives, OWCP will further improve its operations and management structure by complying with the following five strategic goals:

  • To improve the claims review, payment, issue resolution, and adjudication.
  • Enhance the recovery of affected employees and correspondingly prompt employment services.
  • Encourage alliance with stakeholders.
  • Develop and retain a talented workforce.
  • Revamp governance structure and improve agency-wide operations.


Up till now, the program has helped several US employees to get their reimbursement after being subjected to the injury or disease during job chores. In pursuit of attaining this motive, a government entity has established a criterion, which entails those people who have suffered a fatal occupational injury/illness and are a federal employee. The workers who satisfy this criterion should understand the guidelines that are needed to be followed in case of either injury or illness.

Apart from that OWCP has four ventures i.e. FECA, Long-shore, Black Lung and Energy Act and they are doing well in their respective areas of work. The workers based on their condition should opt for the suitable OWCP program. Moreover, the performance of OWCP is quite promising and a large number of people are returned back to work after injury/illness. Additionally, Office of Workers' Compensation Program will further enhance its services and governance structure in order to proliferate its performance. - Shayyan  - author / writer

Shayyan has completed his master in Law from University of Melbourne along with a year of experience as a law professor in Melbourne. He is very opinionated and believes in the saying that a pen is mightier than a sword. Since his early life, he has served greatly to make the world a better place by writing worthy articles regarding political, legal, and social problems. During his leisure time, he loves to travel and learn about new cultures, languages and societies - logo

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