Senator Susan Collins Seeks Reforms To Federal Workers Comp Program

Senator Susan Collins Calls For Review Of Federal Workers Comp Program

Press Release

January 11, 2011

Senator Collins suspects some recipients gaming the system, seeks reforms to bring overly generous federal system in line with states

U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has called for a thorough review of the program that provides federal employees with protection against loss of income from work-related injuries.

The Federal Employee Compensation Act (FECA) pays benefits to roughly 49,000 federal employees to ensure that injured employees receive income while they recuperate pending their return to work.  Senator Collins asked the Government Accountability Office to audit FECA and report on the length of time individuals remain on the program, the number of recipients who exceeded the standard federal retirement age, and how the federal program compares to state workers’ compensation best practices.  Senator Collins also asked GAO to compare records against the Death Master File and the civilian payroll database to search for deceased individuals receiving benefits or recipients “double dipping.”

“I am increasingly concerned that individuals with no intention of returning to work continue to receive these benefits,” said Senator Collins.  “At the U.S. Postal Service, for example, 1,000 employees currently receiving federal workers’ compensation benefits are 80 years or older.  Incredibly, 132 of these individuals are 90 and older and there are three who are 98.  This abuse may extend across the government where the Department of Labor regularly pays benefits to employees in their 70s, 80s, 90s, and even 100s.  The lack of benefit caps and requirements for regular third-party certifications of continued need further expose the FECA program to possible fraud.  If recipients are gaming this crucial benefit at taxpayers’ expense, they must be exposed and the underlying program must be reformed.”

FECA is more generous than federal retirement since on average employees on FECA receive nearly three quarters of their gross pay, tax-free.  Under FECA, there also is an annual cost-of-living adjustment.   By comparison, a federal employee with 30 years of service would retire under CSRS with an average of just over 56 percent of his or her gross pay, which is taxed.  Under this scenario, a retired federal employee would receive 27 percent less annually than a comparable federal employee on FECA.   FECA has no limits on the amount of time spent in the program or the amount of money given to recipients.  FECA has no caps or cut-off periods, which is why there are reported cases of recipients in their 90s and 100s still receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

16 thoughts on “Senator Susan Collins Seeks Reforms To Federal Workers Comp Program

  1. 1000 people over the age of 80 collecting OWCP? That is ridiculous. Retirement should be mandatory if you are over 65 and collecting OWCP. To many with no work ethic.

  2. in my office of 16 employees, half of the people are on limited duty or aren’t even here period. The boss gets so frustrated that she takes it out on the rest of us and demands that we go faster to make up for those that can’t work. A lot of us don’t even get to take our lunch breaks anymore to save time so we won’t be out in the dark.

  3. The REAL facts are a claimant gets 66-75% of their wage, tax free, at the time they go on OWCP. Lets take a person with no dependents as an example. Most individuals without dependents would make less money on OWCP than when they were working because the only make 66% of their pay, that leaves 33%+ left, do the math. These same injured workers would not pay even close to 33%+ in taxes when working. They would be better off, and should be paid, their full lose of wages and pay taxes. The injured worker on OWCP cannot even file taxes to take advantage of itemizing their annual tax write-offs.

    Fact: The injured worker pays a percentage of their health benefits, and the government pays the balance, not all of it.

    Fact: The average annual COLA is only 1.5% for any government employee, working or on OWCP’s roles There has been no COLA for about two years, except for our legislators, including the President. What about management, did they get COLA(?), one could probably bet that they did, and do. They are all getting their COLA and better benefits than America’s average citizens who is employed by the government. History has proven that the cost of living (inflation) increases 7% annually, and that is in good times, again, do the math.

    There are malingers in all systems, that is going to happen, so blame the doctors who are not being straight forward in their diagnosis or treatment of these individuals. Don’t blame it on and take it out on the proven injured workers.

    OWCP may not be the perfect system, but the workers didn’t create, Congress created it, and made it responsible to only itself. And it is, it allows management to make it work against those who are really injured. Blame the legislators who created it, and DOL for that matter. Again don’t fault the injured workers.

    Speaking of OWCP, what about the corruption within it. What about the lying doctors (who falsify medical reports/documents) they hire to get workers off the OWCP roles. It’s been said they get incentive bonuses for accomplishing that. What about management and OWCP employees complete disregard for the using the system properly. Management and most employees in government tend to bend the rules and manipulate them to serve their own agenda. That includes lying and twisting the facts to meet their own agenda to cheat the claimant. They are also known for mentally beating down injured workers until they finally give up. The list goes on and on.

    If a person is injured in the line of duty, or doing their job, and it is proven to be a legitimate work ending injury, why should they be punished for it. Many times those injuries are permanent and in many cases any work could or would injure them further. They don’t deserve to be cut off from their pay just because they are any age, and they don’t deserve to be forced to work irregardless of there injuries. Especially with the possibility of be injured worse than they already are. Take legislatures, that would never happen to them. Management and politicians work by different rules and benefits than the rest of the work force, and “Comp Facts” proves that.

    How can OWCP mirror the CSRS system. Fact: It doe not. OWCP is not a retirement system. FECA is there to protect the injured federal worker and to try to help them heal/recover and go back to work. Some injuries simply do not allow that to happen. Congress created FECA for those reasons, and it works when management and OWCP doesn’t manipulate it to fit their agenda.

    I am not saying the system does not need overhauling. In fact it does but not in the way some individuals suggest. The miss-users of the system are those who fake injuries, the doctors who let them, along with management and the OWCP employees who abuse it. There is where the systems faults lie.

    Senator Collins is a politician, so what does she know, absolutely nothing. Look at the present economy of our country, it was all created by legislators and management. If they couldn’t make it work right in the first place, what makes them think they can or gives them the right to try or make up new rules to fix it(?). NONE, absolutely none!

    The only way OWCP can be changed is to change FECA. Only Congress, who created it, can change FECA. And one person, yes even Senator Collins cannot.

    Fact: The “Comp Facts” are skewed!

  4. In any system like workers’ comp, there will be those who will abuse or use fraud upon the system but I venture to say that those numbers are far and few between.
    The thing that is more concerning is how many legitimately injured Federal worker are denied their rightful benefits because of the corrupt actions of some in OWCP against these honest workers. Just ask some of the injured workers from Okalahoma City, the World Trade Center, and the Embassy bombings in Africa. I beieve that if Collins/Congress want to look at the system why not shoot to look at both sides before you decide which side needs fixing. Maybe the side that she thinks needs fixing in reality is not the side with the problems.

  5. you talk about the injured employees not doing anything, and YOU have to pick up their slack, GIVE ME A F-cken Break! What about all of the healthy people who work @ the USPS (I MEAN STEAL THEIR PAY CHECK) every 2 weeks for doing NOTHING.. And you know the people who cry the most (like you) probably do the least, except worry about what everybody else is doing. So SHUT THE HELL UP!! and go back in the break room, CRYBABY!! or go into MANAGEMENT so you really don’t have to do $hit….

  6. listen up: folks that lie, deceive, and game a benefit system are morally wrong. to defend them is morally wrong. to disparage and question the motives of those who expose these abuses is foolish. it grieves me to hear so many people defending an ineficient system. and, by the way, wealth and capital is the fundamental source of jobs…don’t be dumb and vilify wealthy people…that is SO class warfare.

  7. Congress repealed a mandatory retirement age of 70 for federal and postal employees in 1979. As a consequence, OWCP recipients no longer had to retire.

  8. The facts are that the person injured in 1986 got their COLA annually throughout the period of time they were on compensation. Federal Workers’ Compensation is 75% if there are dependents or 66 2/3% if you have no dependents of the base salary tax free therefore those receiving Workers’ Compensation take home is most often more than if they were working and paying taxes. Those who had prior injury elected health and life benefits government portion continues to be paid by the federal government and all their medical cost associated to the injury are paid for life on or off the compensation. A lot of you need to do your research. This program is a farce to those who work and pay taxes and retire on a roller coaster of FERS (TSP 401K) system.

    The current W/C program was designed to mirror image the long forgotten CSRS retirement program and throughout time it was determined that system was not sustainable as it was far too generous pension system. It is time the Federal Workers’ Compensation Program be overhauled. When you can be diagnosed with bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome and never return to work because you elect to not have the corrective surgery and draw 75% tax free for the remainder of your life – the program is broken.

    Overhaul the System, it IS broken!

  9. An even bigger problem are the employees that come to work, but claim they can’t do anything and this goes on for years and sometimes even decades. Away from work many of these people can do anything. Some even brag about it, but it is too much of an effort for the USPS to do anything about it. Other people have to work extra hard to make up for the dead wood.

  10. Senator Susan Collins is just another run-of-the-mill crypto communist attempting to level down american workers to the least common denominator of pay and benefits. And when she’s through levellng us down here, in this country, she’ll find some poverty-stricken country to level our workers down to — China, Vietnam, etc. — a moveable feast of crypto communistic levelling. Such “representatives” of the American people really only represent the wealthy-with whom they have no problem. But then, the wealthy can defend themselves, can’t they. Communism for the working class, and extreme capitalism for the wealthy–a schizoid political/economic philosophy that seems to be gaining ground in the government of this country.

    There are so few people “gaming” this system that it is irrelevant. Her real target is the vast norm of workers who use workers compensation responsibly, something she cannot abide apparently because it is a working class benefit.

    Susan, go find real money to save by controlling the wealthy who game the system. But then, they’re a harder target, aren’t they? You attack 100-year-olds. Do you kick puppies for enjoyment in your spare time too?

  11. The way Congress is taking advantage of the American people with their fully paid salaries for life and their fully paid extremely cadillac health plans for life Senator Collins needs to look inward for some additional justice.

  12. That’s right . Injured employees get 75% of their salary when collecting comp and have dependents. However, that’s 75% of the pay they were making at the time of their injury. If you got hurt in 1986 when you were making $12.00 an hour and that debilitating injury keeps you from working the rest of your life, yep you can stay on comp for 75% of what you made then. Sounds like those disabled workers are killing the system while they exist below the poverty line. Make sure you punish the peopkle who are REALLY hurt too.

  13. Hey, she could be on to something here. I’m OK with changes, as long as I get the same workers comp benefits she gets. And as long as were at it, I want the same health insurance benefits at the same rates as what she pays!!

  14. May be small in the scheme of things, but when you’re receiving a golden parachute like Collins you’ll try to draw blood from a rock!

  15. Really 1000 employees, very small number in the scheme of things, and what is the dollar difference between there work comp payment and a regular retirement payment???. This doesn’t add up to much. The other cost is the tax savings for 1000 individuals. The honorable Ms Collins had no problem supporting tax breaks for millionaires who will do nothing with this extra money to help the job market, so why attack retired federal employees who spend every bit of the retirement checks to help the job market. The Honorable Ms. Collins is just plain wrong and is only interested in throwing up smoke screens so she can do her dirty deeds with out the middle class see what she is really up to, moving the tax burden from the rich to the middle class.

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