The distinction between the Office of Workers’ Compensation Program (OWCP) and Federal and Postal Disability Retirement benefits under either FERS or CSRS from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is one which must be clearly made so that a Federal or Postal worker does not confuse the two; for, in confusing the two, there are numerous instances in which the Federal or Postal worker believes that he/she is receiving one or both — as the Statute of Limitations has already run out or is about to run out. OWCP is a separate, distinct, and independent benefit from OPM Disability Retirement benefits.
It is administered by the Department of Labor, and is designed to provide for temporary compensatory benefits based upon an on-the-job injury (as opposed to the issue being “neutral” and irrelevant in a Federal Disability Retirement application under FERS or CSRS), or an occupational illness or disease, and is meant to allow for a period of time in which the injured Federal or Postal Worker can recuperate or become rehabilitated, then return back to work. There is no designated time-frame as to how long a medical condition must last (whereas for OPM Disability Retirement benefits, a medical condition must last for a minimum of 12 months).
The distinctions are important to keep in mind for many reasons, if merely to understand that a person who has filed for OWCP benefits has NOT concurrently satisfied the filing requirements for OPM disability retirement benefits. One must affirmatively file for,and prove by a preponderance of the evidence, that one is eligible and entitled to OPM disability retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS. Complacency in the receipt of OWCP payments may shockingly come to an end one day; it is a good idea to prepare, formulate, and file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits under FERS or CSRS.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire