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