We hope that no employee is ever injured at work and that no employees ever experience an accident while employed by the Postal Service.  However, there is a chance that an employee will get hurt on the job and as a result of that injury will need medical assistance.  In addition, your injury may require you to request relief through the Office of Workers Compensation (OWCP).  The local OWCP office is located in Philadelphia.  It is the responsibility of this office to review your claim and determine eligibility.


This page is intended to provide information of a general nature.  When injured, APWU members are encouraged to contact a steward  for more in depth information and guidance.  Members who file claims without Union guidance do so at their own peril.


    Eligibility for OWCP

     There are five areas that are reviewed to determine eligibility.  They are:

  1. Timely filing of the claim:    Both traumatic and occupational injuries must be filed within three (3) years of the date of injury.  In the case of a traumatic injury the three year window begins when the employee first becomes aware of the condition or the last day of exposure / contact.  To receive Continuation of Pay (COP) for a traumatic injury, the employee must file a claim within thirty (30) days of injury.

  2. The Claimant must be a civil (federal) employee:    If you're a postal employee on the date of the injury you are covered.

  3. Must be able to demonstrate fact of injury:    Your must be able to pinpoint the incident, contact, or exposure and the medical evidence must support this position.

  4. Must be related to, and occur during, performance of duty:     There are a number of criteria that fit into the category of "performance of duties" including, but not limited to, actual work performed on the floor, horseplay, travel, and assaults.  Simply, if you are doing your job, you are covered.

  5. Must Demonstrate a "causal relationship" between work and injury:    The Claimant must show that the injury was caused by a work injury, aggravation of injury, acceleration of an injury, or a pre-existing condition.

    Controversion of Claim

     If your claim is reviewed and contains all the information listed above, you claim will, most likely, be approved.  There is nothing Postal Management can do to stop the approval process under these circumstances.  Postal Management in your facility has nothing to do with the approval or denial of your claim.  Local management can controvert, or challenge, your claim.  However, the OWCP claims reviewer will make the final decision based on all of the evidence.  It is our experience that management controverts 90% of all OWCP claims.  If management does controvert your claim, they must do so in writing and state the reason for the challenge.


    Notification of Injury / Seeking Treatment

     When injured at work you should report the injury to your immediate supervisor. You have the right to seek medical attention from your personal physician if such care is readily available.  If you cannot receive prompt treatment from your personal physician the Postal Service may take you for emergency treatment to their contract physician.  Only a serious health threatening situation grants management the right to force an employee to the postal doctor. While the Postal Service may take you to their physician for diagnosis / evaluation, you retain the right to seek treatment from your personal physician.  You are not required to sign a release for treatment at the hospital.  You should  inform the attending physician that you have been, or will be, treated by your personal physician and do not want treatment from him/her.  Upon your return to work, after receiving treatment from your personal physician,  management should not require you to visit the postal doctor.  If management gives you a direct order to to travel to the doctor, you should comply with that order and then contact your steward. 

    There may be a time when an employee is injured at work but does not seek immediate treatment.  The employee realizes, a few days later, that the injury is work related and then notifies management.  Lately, management has been telling employees that they must reports to work, even if they are injured, to complete the paperwork and possibly visit the postal doctor.  This is improper.  You are not required to report to work solely to fill out an OWCP form, or postal accident report forms.  Tell management to mail the OWCP forms to you and that you will fill out the Postal accident report forms upon your return to work.


   Choice of Physician

     Your choice of physician is a very important decision.  Think carefully before making an election.  The Postal Service will present you with a selection of physician form and tell you to sign it.  In many cases, the Postal Service has already filled out the form listing the postal doctor as the physician of choice and asks the employee to simply sign.  Do not be tricked!  This form indicates that you agree to have the postal doctors as your physician of record for your claim.  Do not sign this form!  Remember, the postal doctor has been told by management that there is always limited duty work regardless of how severe the pain.  Your best choice is your personal physician.  He/she knows you best and you are paying their bill, not the Postal Service.  Which doctor is truly looking out for your best interests.


    What to Fill Out

     As for what paperwork to complete , management will want you to complete all the paperwork after you report an injury.  They will present you with a number of papers telling you to, "Sign them.  They're just routine".  The Union advises you to sign nothing until you fully understand it's implications.  The decision to file, or not to file, an OWCP claim is the employees decision.  You are not required to complete a CA-1 (traumatic injury) or CA-2 (occupational illness).  Remember, the timeframe for filing a CA-1 for COP is 30 days.  Do not be bullied into signing anything on day #1. 

    What forms should you fill out?  A CA-1, CA-2, CA-2a, Ca-7, CA-20, or maybe a CA-1500?  The Union has Department of Labor Certified OWCP Specialist who can help you with your questions.  Do not rely on the Postal Service to look out for your best interests. If you have any concerns about signing documents ask to see a shop steward to protect your rights under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Employee Relations Manual (ELM), Section 540.  When in doubt call the Union Office at 610-882-3278.  Make sure a shop steward is aware of your injury.