Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation (DFEC)
Impact of USPS Data Suspension
The Department of Labor (DOL)’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) is required to gather information on individuals in order to fulfill its mission of administering the workers’ compensation program for federal employees. This includes collection of personal and medical information under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). The FECA, which is administered by the Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation (DFEC) within OWCP, provides a variety of benefits to federal civilian employees who sustain workplace injury or illness.
As the administrator of the FECA, OWCP has the exclusive authority to control access to and disclosure of FECA records, including those in possession of the federal agencies who employ our injured workers. Although the United States Department of Justice has confirmed OWCP’s exclusive authority over FECA records, the Unites States Postal Service (USPS) disagrees and is unwilling to abide by DOL’s rules and restrictions on disclosure of FECA claim documents. As a result, USPS has refused to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with DOL in order for USPS to receive FECA data electronically. DOL takes its privacy stewardship responsibilities seriously and has taken steps in order to protect the privacy of USPS employees who submit medical and personal information in connection with an application for FECA benefits. Because we have been unable to resolve this disagreement and because USPS has not signed the MOU, DOL is suspending USPS access to electronic case information as well as the transmittal of certain FECA information to USPS, except in those limited circumstances required for FECA claims administration to avoid unduly penalizing USPS employees.
Specifically, OWCP notified USPS that, as of July 1, 2013, we will suspend the electronic transfer of FECA information and documents to USPS, suspend USPS access to the Agency Query System, and suspend access to specific case documents through electronic kiosks in DFEC District Offices. In addition, we will limit access to copies of correspondence sent to a claimant. Information required by the USPS Office of Inspector General and the Postal Inspection service for investigatory activities within the scope of their authority will continue to be provided.
We have taken this step in order to protect the privacy of our injured workers but are committed to minimizing the impact of this decision on USPS employees. There will be no change in entitlement to benefits for these employees and we will continue to provide USPS employees the necessary information concerning their application for benefits. When OWCP suspends data transfer, USPS may experience difficulties with USPS sponsored programs such as pharmacy (PMSI), Durable Medical Equipment (Coventry) and physical therapy (Align Networks) for those USPS employees who have active FECA claims as well as those who experience new injuries. Precisely how and for what timeframe these voluntary programs are impacted is largely in the hands of USPS. USPS employees remain able to obtain these benefits through an authorized medical provider if there is an impact.
In terms of immediate effects on USPS employees, to the extent USPS employees rely on USPS injury compensation specialists to obtain information about their FECA claims (such as compensation payments and medical bill inquiries), much of this information is also available (and will continue to remain available) to them through the Claimant Query System (CQS) and through the Call Centers in the OWCP FECA district offices. If some employees are unfamiliar with the CQS system, OWCP staff will be available to assist claimants in accessing information regarding their claim.
In an effort to minimize the disruption to our injured workers, DFEC is posting information describing the process for obtaining benefits on its webpage. The website will contain specific information for USPS employees, USPS Injury Compensation Staff, and medical providers.
Information for Employees of the USPS
If your agency injury compensation specialist is unable to provide you information regarding your workers’ compensation claim, there are several avenues available to you.
- The Claimant Query System (CQS) provides information on your claim including, accepted conditions, medical bill payment status, wage loss compensation status, and a case history status. Information on how to utilize the CQS system can be found here: http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/CQS061709.pdf
- The automated telephone system used by DFEC provides basic information on your claim 24-7 such as the current claim status, the status of recently submitted claims for compensation, as well as general information.
- During business hours, you can also navigate the phone system and ask to speak with a claims representative who will assist you with inquiries about your claim. Contact information for our servicing district offices can be found here: http://www.dol.gov/owcp/contacts/fecacont.htm
If you experience difficulty with your pharmacy, physical therapy, or durable medical equipment card, give your FECA claim number to the medical provider and have them bill OWCP through the central bill pay system (ACS). Our website contains information for providers including how to register with ACS. For more information on obtaining medical benefits, please see http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/regs/compliance/infoinjuredwrkers.html
Information for Medical Providers
If you have been providing contract medical services to USPS injured workers under the FECA and are not able to bill through your third party carrier, you may register with our central bill pay service (ACS) in order to seek authorization and obtain payment. Information for medical providers can be found here: http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/medicalprovider.htm
Information for USPS Injury Compensation Staff
Because the US Postal Service has not signed a required OWCP Memorandum of Understanding for data/document exchange, the Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation (DFEC) is unable to share some information with the USPS. USPS will continue to receive documents concerning claims adjudication and return to work. For additional information, please read the background document on the DFEC website and contact the USPS with any questions. Please note that the FECA regulations (20 C.F.R §10.118a) state that “The employer is responsible for submitting to OWCP all relevant and probative factual and medical evidence in its possession, or which it may acquire through investigation or other means.” The USPS is not relieved of this regulatory requirement.