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Monday, June 22, 2015

Help For Those That Need It

Do you need help with your OWCP claim but just can’t afford the attorney or representative’s costly retainer and hourly rate? 

I can drastically minimize those fees by ghostwriting whatever you require, helping you with a strategy, review your documents and/or do the research for you to help you help yourself.

From a simple letter to an appeal, no job is too large or too small and my fees are a fraction of what you’ll be charged by an attorney or representative because I charge based on what you need. 

It doesn't matter if you need help with one issue or multiple issues, I can supply what you need to help you resolve your claim issues at a reasonable fee.

For those who cannot afford the high price of a full-service attorney or representative, contact OWCP advocate Jesse Slade for a more budget minded approach to help with your OWCP claim and get the help you need at an affordable price.

Jesse Slade is the alternative to high-priced attorneys and representatives. 


Contact Jesse at: owcpslayer@gmail.com



Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pain...In Your Report

Most physicians don't understand OWCP's requirements when writing a report for them. This is a topic we have discussed before.

Most physicians will write the reports they're used to writing. These reports work in just about any other system, so unless the physician understands OWCP, they believe the same report is good enough for OWCP.

As a lot of you know, this is not the case and a lot of times you, as the claimant must educate your physician on what OWCP requires from him or her. One of the biggest reasons I see for discounting your physician's report is the use of the word-PAIN.

Of course you have pain, you've been injured. Of course you tell your physician about your pain, s/he's your doctor. Of course your doctor is going to tell OWCP about your pain. Your doctor might say you can't work because of the pain. The problem is, OWCP has determined pain is a symptom. As far as OWCP is concerned, your pain is your problem not theirs.

OWCP will not accept claims where your physician only discusses your pain, even if there's a diagnosis. OWCP will not accept pain as a reason for not working. OWCP will not accept pain as a reason because your pain is your problem...it's a Symptom not a medical diagnosis.

The Employees Compensation Appeals Board, (ECAB or the Board) backs OWCP on this topic which means OWCP has every right to deny your claim based on a report that revolves around pain.

Your physician can certainly discuss your pain, but more important is for the physician to discuss the source of your pain. Where the pain is coming from. What is causing your pain. Why you have pain.

In most cases, this is not difficult to do, most claimant's know where their pain is coming from, what's causing the pain, so it isn't difficult for a physician to relate why you have pain (again-in most cases). It's just that the physician doesn't know that's what OWCP requires.

Too many claimants are having a difficult time finding and keeping physicians that are willing to deal with OWCP's stringent requirements. Many physicians become frustrated with OWCP. Many quit or say they'll never take another OWCP claimant.

Claimants need to keep the physicians they've got. So help your physician by letting them know what OWCP requires.

This is especially important when it comes to the requirements of medical reports, so let your physician know that while s/he can discuss pain, it's important to let OWCP know where the pain is coming from. What is causing your pain. Why do you have pain. What is the diagnosis that causes your pain.

For more on medical report requirements, see these articles:

http://theowcpclassroom.blogspot.com/2011/03/narrative-reports-your-physician.html
http://theowcpclassroom.blogspot.com/2011/07/more-on-medical-narratives.html





Thursday, February 26, 2015

Calculating A Schedule Award

You've had your impairment rating, submitted your rating and your CA-7 and OWCP has approved your percentage of loss...so how much will your schedule award pay you?

First, use the chart below to determine the maximum number of weeks allowed for the impaired body part. 

Schedule awards are paid at your compensation rate of either 66 2/3% (no dependents) or 75% (with dependents). 

To calculate the schedule award payment, multiply your actual percentage of impairment of the affected body part by the maximum number of weeks from the chart below. This will determine the number of weeks you're entitled to.

Then multiply the number of weeks you're entitled to by your weekly pay rate and multiply that result by your compensation rate of either 66 2/3% (no dependents) or 75% (dependents). This will give you the approximate amount of your schedule award.

Examples:

In this example there is a 10% impairment rating of the hand with a 75% compensation rate and a weekly pay rate of $500.00:

10% (your actual percentage of impairment) X 244 weeks (100% loss of use of the hand) = 24.4 weeks

24.4 weeks X $500.00 (weekly pay rate) X 75% (compensation rate) = $7,320.00


In this example there is a 15% impairment rating of the arm with a 66 2/3% compensation rate and a weekly pay rate of $500.00:

15% (your actual percentage of impairment) X 312 weeks (100% loss of use of the arm) = 46.8 weeks

46.8 weeks X $500.00 (weekly pay rate) X 66 2/3% (compensation rate) = $15,600.00

*When the compensation rate is 66 2/3% multiply the compensation rate by 66.666666667%

COVERED MEMBERS AND

MAXIMUM NUMBER OF WEEKS PAYABLE FOR TOTAL (100%) LOSS:
  • Arm 312 weeks
  • Leg 288 weeks
  • Eye 160 weeks
  • Hearing (one ear) 52 weeks
  • Hearing (both ears) 200 weeks
  • Hand 244 weeks
  • Thumb 75 weeks
  • 1st Finger 46 weeks
  • 2nd Finger 30 weeks
  • 3rd Finger (ring finger) 25 weeks
  • 4th Finger (pinky finger) 15 weeks
  • Foot 205 weeks
  • Great Toe 38 weeks
  • Toe (other than great toe) 16 weeks
  • Vulva-Vagina-Uterus-Cervix 205 weeks
  • Breast 52 weeks
  • Ovary (includes Fallopian tubes) 52 weeks
  • Penis 205 weeks
  • Testicle 52 weeks
  • Larynx-Tongue 160 weeks
  • Kidney 156 weeks
  • Lung 156 weeks
  • Skin 205 weeks

Even if your accepted injuries are not on this list, you may still be entitled to a schedule award if the accepted injury caused impairment to a covered body part. For instance if you have a spinal injury which is not a covered member, you may have nerve damage caused by the spinal injury that affects your arm(s) and/or leg(s). The nerve damage could entitle you to a schedule award under the hand, fingers, arm, leg, foot and/or toes. The same would be true for a brain injury or other body parts that are not covered for a schedule award. 

You may not collect both a schedule award and OWCP compensation at the same time if the compensation and the schedule award are for the same body part and/or extremity. For example if you are collecting OWCP compensation due to a right shoulder injury you cannot collect a schedule award for an impairment to the right hand since it is the same extremity-the right arm. 

In this case, OWCP will suspend (stop) compensation until the schedule award is paid and then compensation will resume.

Your actual schedule award payment may vary slightly but this method gives you an idea of what payment to expect from your schedule award.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Representative Rant

While I was doing some research, I stumbled onto a website by accident. Normally, if this happens I just go back to my research but something about the material I was reading on this website caught my attention. Imagine my surprise when a couple of paragraphs in I realized I was reading my own work!

Turned out a husband and wife (who I will call Mr. and Mrs. X out of Dallas, Texas) who are in business representing claimants with their OWCP claims had stolen articles from this blog and were pawning them off as their own work. Their website even claims their material is copyrighted which is ironic since at least some of their articles were stolen from me over a year ago. I shouldn't have been surprised since it turns out Mr. X, the one who is identified as the person who posted the articles, states he is a retired claims examiner.

After reading through all ten articles posted on the website, it became clear that they stole my material for half their posted articles in their attempt to get your business. 

I immediately sent an email to them and demanded they remove the material they stole from this blog.

Over the next two days I went back and forth with Mrs. X. In response to my demand to remove my material from their website, the first email I received stated; “Would you kindly advise me what material you are talking about and I will remove immediately.” This is a telling statement. Had I received this demand I would have told the person where to go since I know with certainty I have written all of my own material with the exception of one guest article. Yet Mrs. X was quick to state as soon as I identified the material it would be removed.

Then, in typical claims examiner fashion, the opinion reversed itself. I received an email that stated in part; Mr. X “nor myself have ever knowingly stolen material from any website.” Which I again found ironic since half their articles were stolen from this blog and were nearly word-for-word what I’d written years before they posted it to their website.

If they didn't knowingly steal my work, where did it come from? Did it just appear by magic on their website? Did internet fairies put it there when Mr. and Mrs. X weren't looking? Are they saying they don’t know what is posted to their website or that it might be stolen? Are they saying they’re not aware of who posts on their website? Are they saying it was a mistake that Mr. X took credit for posting the articles? 

And if they've never “knowingly” stolen from another website, why was the first response that they would remove the material? Ultimately, what is posted on a business website is the responsibility of the business owner and most business websites have a limited number of people who can post written material without the business owner’s knowledge. Obviously, I didn't believe Mrs. X.

The new email also stated I would need to provide comparisons of all the material I believed was "close" in content to mine. Since most of what they had stolen was word-for-word, cut and pasted, obviously we weren't talking "close" in content, we were talking blatantly plagiarized.

I wasted my time in preparing a side-by-side comparison of my article regarding medical narratives which I posted July 29, 2011 and their article which claimed to be posted by Mr. X on January 21, 2014. I sent this side-by-side comparison and also listed four other articles that were obviously stolen from me, but wasn't going to waste more time doing more side-by-side comparisons for them.

In response to the side-by-side comparison, I received an email which states; “The specific article you have sent by attachment will be removed within 48 hours.” It would appear that I proved my article was in fact plagiarized and posted to their website, otherwise why would they remove it?

After some more back and forth with Mrs. X, I received an email that stated; “I have requested that our website designer remove all articles for re-write.” Re-write? They certainly didn't write five of the articles in the first place...I did. Interesting, since I alerted them that five of their ten articles were stolen from me, why would they remove all of their articles? Makes me wonder where the other five came from. And they did remove them. As of February 05, 2015 the entire ‘article’ section disappeared from their website. But the damage was already done. How much revenue was generated for them by using material plagiarized from me?

When I made my displeasure known to Mrs. X and told her I would be blogging about the incident, the final email I received stated; “I would suggest that before you proceed to attempt to hurt our business, you carefully consider repercussions.”

Excuse me? Typical claims examiner thinking. They steal my work and claim it for their own, generate revenue for themselves by using my work, get caught in their lies and are now concerned I might harm their business? Apparently they didn't consider the harm they did to my business or the repercussions by using my material to advance their income and increase their business using my stolen material for more than a year.

Obviously, they don’t know me very well…because like any claims examiner, retired or not, their little threat didn't faze me, I had truth on my side and as proof of that, you’re now reading the article I said I’d write.

You'd think as a 'retired' claims examiner Mr. X would be knowledgeable enough to compose and write his own articles and wouldn't have to plagiarize them from me or anyone else. At the very least you’d think Mr. and Mrs. X would know where their articles came from if they didn't write them on their own. Makes me wonder if they write their own appeals. Makes me wonder what else might be stolen from someone with the skills they might not have.

You'd think they wouldn't need to steal my material in their attempt to gain your business. You'd think Mr. X would know more about OWCP policy, procedure and regulations than I could possibly ever know since he is a 'retired' claims examiner. A claims examiner who wrote how many formal decisions denying benefits to claimants? A 'retired' claims examiner who is now in business to take your money to overturn the decisions written by his fellow claims examiners.

It would seem my thinking is correct since Mr. X claims that as a retired claims examiner he has insider knowledge regarding the internal operations of OWCP. He is also adamant that a claims examiner is not your friend, another little tidbit of irony.

Well here’s my question, if a retired claims examiner has all that insight into the internal workings of OWCP why were my articles stolen in an attempt to get more business? He has insider knowledge so why can’t he write his own articles in his attempt to get more business? Also, if the claims examiner is not your friend while they’re working for OWCP, how does retiring turn the claims examiner into your friend?

I'm all for a person making a living and this blog proves I care about what happens to claimants under the broken OWCP system, but I am not okay with 'retired' claims examiners who were responsible for so many horrible decisions that affected claimant’s lives now out there trying to drum up business from those very same claimants and using my stolen articles to do it. To me, this amounts to claims examiners still taking advantage and getting paid for it…again.

Being the thorough person I am, and the fact that Mr. and Mrs. X stole their articles from me and made me mad, I wondered if there was more being sold to claimants by Mr. and Mrs. X.

Reading the website, Mr. X sounded proud of being a "retired" claims examiner, touting his vast experience and expertise of the inner workings of OWCPland. Twice on his website, Mr. X claims that he consistently wins cases at all three appeal levels. You would hope so since Mr. X is a retired claims examiner, who should know better on what is required to reverse a bad decision than an ex claims examiner? So, I searched the ECAB for any decisions where Mr. X served as a claimant’s representative. 

I found ten ECAB cases where Mr. X was the representative for the claimant. Out of these ten cases only ONE was a reversal which is an outright win for the claimant. There were also TWO that were sent back (remanded) to OWCP for further development, not quite a win but not a total loss, at least not yet. 

This left seven ECAB appeals that Mr. X lost (affirmed). That got me wondering what Mr. X considers consistently winning since in seven of the ten ECAB cases Mr. X lost the claimant's appeal at the ECAB level. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't call outright losing 70% of cases consistently winning at the ECAB level. And we may never know what happened to the two remanded cases sent back to OWCP. One reversal out of ten appeals a 10% actual win record is not consistently winning, at least not to me, but apparently it is to Mr. X and he wants you to believe it too. It's unfortunate there isn't a way to check the other forms of appeals to see what his actual win/loss record is on those levels. 

I've said it before and I’ll say it again, by the time a claimant is looking for help, they are in a very vulnerable situation and some people will take advantage of that. 

Bottom line, be careful who you hire. Not everyone is as honest as they claim to be. Not everyone is as knowledgeable as they claim to be. And for Mr. and Mrs. X, you can believe that I will be watching you from now on.

Since ECAB decisions are published and are not copyrighted material and are open to public viewing, here are the ten ECAB cases I’m talking about:


These were the five stolen articles:




Monday, October 6, 2014

ICD-10 Codes

The implementation of ICD-10 codes has been delayed until October 01, 2015

Sunday, April 27, 2014

New OWCP Classroom Question Forum

For reasons unknown The OWCP Classroom Forum was deleted!

I've created a new forum for questions, answers and general help.

Here's the new forum address: 

http://theowcpclassroom.freeforums.net/

Hope to hear from anyone needing help!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Physical Demand Definitions

OWCP has adopted the following definitions from the Selected Characteristics of Occupations Defined in the Revised Dictionary of Occupational Titles (where applicable), which should be used when comparing the claimant’s established work restrictions to the physical requirements of positions identified in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.

These definitions indicate the absence or presence and frequency of the physical demand components requested on the OWCP-5b and OWCP-5c.

While these definitions are used by OWCP under Vocational Rehabilitation, they can also be used to determine if a job offer is within the claimant’s physical restrictions if the claimant’s strength level has been decided (such as after an FCE).

STRENGTH LEVEL:

Sedentary Work - Sedentary Work involves exerting up to 10 pounds of force occasionally or a negligible amount of force frequently to lift, carry, push, pull, or otherwise move objects, including the human body. Sedentary work involves sitting most of the time, but may involve walking or standing for brief periods of time. Jobs may be defined as sedentary when walking and standing are required only occasionally and all other sedentary criteria are met. 

Occasionally: activity or condition exists up to 1/3 of the time. Frequently: activity or condition exists from 1/3 to 2/3 of the time.

Light Work - Light Work involves exerting up to 20 pounds of force occasionally or up to 10 pounds of force frequently, or a negligible amount of force constantly to move objects. Physical demand requirements are in excess of those for sedentary work.

Even though the weight lifted may be only a negligible amount, a job/occupation is rated as light work when it requires: (1) walking or standing to a significant degree; (2) sitting most of the time while pushing or pulling arm or leg controls; or (3) working at a production rate pace while constantly pushing or pulling materials even though the weight of the materials is negligible. (The constant stress and strain of maintaining a production rate pace, especially in an industrial setting, can be and is physically demanding of a worker even though the amount of force exerted is negligible.)

Medium Work - Medium Work involves exerting 20 to 50 pounds of force occasionally or 10 to 25 pounds of force frequently or an amount greater than negligible and up to 10 pounds constantly to move objects. Physical demand requirements are in excess of those for light work.

Heavy Work - Heavy work involves exerting 50 to 100 pounds of force occasionally, or 25 to 50 pounds of force frequently, or 10 to 20 pounds of force constantly to move objects. Physical demand requirements are in excess of those for medium work.

Very Heavy Work - Very Heavy Work involves exerting in excess of 100 pounds of force occasionally, or in excess of 50 pounds of force frequently or in excess of 20 pounds of force constantly to move objects. Physical demand requirements are in excess of those for heavy work.

Limits of Weights Lifted/Carried/Pushed/Pulled
Rating
Occasionally
Frequently
Constantly
Sedentary
* - 10
*
N/A
Light
* - 20
* - 10
*
Medium
20 - 50
10 - 25
* - 10
Heavy
50 - 100
25 - 50
10 - 20
Very Heavy
100 +
50 +
20 +
* = negligible weight; N/A = Not Applicable

The range excludes the lower number and includes the higher number, i.e., the range 10 - 25 excludes 10 (beginning at 10+) and includes 25, the range 25-50 excludes 25 (beginning at 25+) and includes 50.

Presence and/or Frequency of Other Physical Demands
this chart should be referenced to determine the frequency of demands for the remaining physical components of a given job.

Code
Frequency
Definition
Max hrs./8 hr. day
N
Not Present
Activity/condition does not exist
0
O
Occasionally
Activity/condition exists up to 1/3 of the time
2 hrs. 40 min.
F
Frequently
Activity/condition exists from 1/3 to 2/3 of the time
5 hrs. 20 min.
C
Constantly
Activity/condition exists 2/3 or more of the time
8

REACHING:
Extending hand(s) and arm(s) in any direction, including overhead reaching or reaching above shoulder level.
TWISTING:
Turning, twisting, contorting, or flexing the torso in any direction towards the right or left.
BENDING/STOOPING:
Bending body downward and forward by bending the spine at the waist, requiring full use of the lower extremities and back muscles.
OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE AT WORK:
Driving any vehicle while in performance of the work duties.
REPETITIVE MOVEMENTS OF ELBOWS (HANDLING):
Seizing, holding, grasping, turning, or otherwise working with the hand or hands using the whole arm.
REPETITIVE MOVEMENTS OF WRISTS (FINGERING):
Picking, pinching, or otherwise working primarily with fingers and wrists rather than the whole arm as in handling.
SQUATTING (CROUCHING):
Bending of the body downward and forward by bending the legs and the spine.
KNEELING:
Bending the legs at knees and coming to rest on one or both knees.
CLIMBING:
Ascending or descending ladders, stairs, scaffolding, ramps, poles, and the like by using the feet and legs or the hands and arms. Body agility is emphasized.

Environmental Conditions Definitions:

This chart should be referenced to determine the frequency of exposure of the listed environmental components.

Code
Frequency
Definition
Max hrs./8 hr. day
N
Not Present
Activity/condition does not exist
0
O
Occasionally
Activity/condition exists up to 1/3 of the time
2 hrs. 40 min.
F
Frequently
Activity/condition exists from 1/3 to 2/3 of the time
5 hrs. 20 min.
C
Constantly
Activity/condition exists 2/3 or more of the time
8

EXPOSURE TO TEMPERATURE EXTREMES:
Exposure to outside atmospheric conditions and/or non-weather related hot and/or cold temperature.
EXPOSURE TO AIRBORNE PARTICLES:
Exposure to conditions such as dusts, smoke and/or poor ventilation that affect the respiratory system, eyes and/or the skin.
EXPOSURE TO GASES/FUMES:
Exposure to conditions such as fumes, noxious odors, mists, and gases that affect the respiratory system, eyes and/or the skin.
EXPOSURE TO ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION:

Exposure to electromagnetic radiation that affects cardiovascular devices.