Filing OWCP Claims in Covid-19 Cases
Letter carriers who develop COVID-19 while in the performance of their duties are entitled to workers' compensation coverage pursuant to the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA). Exposure to COVID-19 alone does not constitute a work-related injury entitling an employee to medical treatment under the FECA. The employee must actually be diagnosed with COVID-19 to potentially be afforded coverage.
However, in addition to letter carriers who have tested positive, letter carriers who are symptomatic for COVID-19, and have been working and have no history of family exposure should register and then file a CA-1 claim in ECOMP. You should also contact your installation and request a CA-16 Authorization for Examination and/or Treatment, which will pay for your first 60 days of medical bills. Letter carriers who are asymptomatic need not file a claim.
Given the nature of how quickly the virus can develop, registering in ECOMP is a good pre-emptive move for all letter carriers. You can register in ECOMP without filing a claim at https://www.ecomp.dol.gov/#/. Instructions on how to register in ECOMP can be found at: https://www.nalc.org/workplace-issues/injured-on-the-job.
When filling out the CA-1, question 13 asks for the cause of injury. Letter carriers must write COVID-19 so OWCP can categorize the claim for special handling.
Question 14 on the CA-1 asks for the nature of injury. When appropriate, letter carriers should write that their job as a letter carrier requires them to have in-person and close proximity interactions with the public on a frequent basis.
OWCP will require the letter carrier to provide a factual statement and any available evidence concerning exposure. Medical evidence establishing a diagnosis of COVID-19 is needed. The results of any COVID-19 testing should be submitted to OWCP if available. If you have encountered difficulty in obtaining such testing, OWCP will authorize such testing if you have a confirmed COVID-19 exposure at work.
Injured workers will need to provide medical evidence establishing that the diagnosed COVID-19 was caused by your work-related activities. For health and safety reasons, OWCP encourages injured workers to use telehealth to obtain medical evidence from a qualified physician.
Establishing causal relationship generally requires a qualified physician's opinion, based on a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that the diagnosed condition is causally related to employment conditions. This opinion must be based on a complete factual and medical background.
Letter carriers who have tested positive or are symptomatic for COVID-19, have been working and have no history of family exposure should contact their national business agent’s office and request the assistance of a Regional Workers’ Compensation Assistant (RWCA) when filing a claim for COVID-19 exposure.