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What Should You Know About Potential Changes To Federal Workers Comp Coverage?

If you work for the United States federal government or one of its many agencies, you've likely traded dreams of a high salary for the job security, potential pension, and other generous benefits afforded to you as a federal employee. However, proposed changes to the workers compensation program that covers federal employees may soon affect you if you're injured or made ill while on the job. Read on to learn more about these proposed changes, as well as how they may impact a future workers compensation claim. 

How does the federal workers compensation program work?

Each state requires its employers of a certain size to carry workers compensation insurance coverage -- insurance designed to help compensate employees for medical expenses and lost wages stemming from an injury or illness that occurs on the job. Often, this coverage is administered through the state, but in some cases it may be privately purchased by each individual company. 

Although there are federal employees working in each of the fifty states (and the District of Columbia), these employees aren't covered by their state workers comp coverage -- but instead the federal workers compensation system, which has long been known to provide more generous benefits than those available under most state workers compensation programs.

What changes are being proposed to the federal workers compensation system? 

Currently, if a federal employee is injured on the job -- or while traveling to an alternate office location at the instruction of his or her employer -- this employee may qualify to receive between 66 and 75 percent of his or her base pay in workers compensation benefits until he or she has recovered enough to return to work. (Workers without dependents receive 66.6 percent of base pay while on medical leave, while those with dependents receive 75 percent of base pay). These workers compensation benefits can also cover any out-of-pocket medical expenses associated with the incident. 

If a federal employee is injured or made so ill on the job that he or she is unable to return to work, this workers comp coverage will eventually transition to short- or long-term disability insurance, and then likely eventually to Social Security Disability. 

Some critics of the federal workers compensation program argue that the high benefits rate doesn't provide the proper incentive for workers to return to work -- believing that some workers would rather receive 66 to 75 percent of their pay for staying home rather than 100 percent of their pay for working. With this objective in mind, the U.S. Department of Labor recently put forth a proposal to cap the amount of pay available under workers compensation at 70 percent for all workers -- effectively increasing the workers comp coverage available for singles, but lowering this coverage for families. 

What should you do if you suffer an injury at work?

Currently, this plan is still a proposal -- however, it does seem apparent that money-saving changes will soon be made to the federal workers compensation program. Because the easiest way to save money on workers comp claims is to lower the benefit amount, it's possible that the days of 75 percent of (tax-free) base pay could be coming to an end.

If you're injured and file a workers compensation claim before any changes are finalized, the current payment structure (rather than the proposed future structure) should still apply to your claim. It's always important to notify your employer as soon as you can after a workplace injury so that the proper documentation can be filed and you can be put into the system (and set to receive benefits) as quickly as possible. If you fail to notify your employer of a workplace injury for a few weeks or months, your workers compensation claim may be denied -- even if you were clearly hurt while on the job. For more information, contact a legal professional from a site like http://toddeast.com/.