Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Schedule Awards-New Lie

In the latest liar, liar pants on fire files, OWCP is telling claimants in certain situations that they have no claim to a schedule award. I’ve been hearing this story more and more lately.

Claimants entitled to a schedule award are filing their CA-7’s and impairment ratings only to get a letter from OWCP which states the claimant is not entitled to a schedule award because they have not reached Maximum Medical Improvement, (MMI) because they are not working and they are receiving OWCP wage-loss compensation.

This letter states that a schedule award cannot be paid concurrently with wage-loss compensation or if the claimant is still receiving treatment. The letter ends by telling the claimant no further action will be taken to process their schedule award.

While it is true that a claimant cannot receive payment for wage-loss compensation and a schedule award at the same time (concurrently), a claimant can be at MMI and file for and receive a schedule award if they are not working and are still receiving treatment.

OWCP regulations indicate that if a claimant is not working and is receiving wage-loss compensation, the wage-loss compensation will be suspended while the schedule award pays out and when the schedule award is paid, the wage-loss compensation will be resumed.

Personally, I believe this is just the latest tactic of lying to claimants so that claimants will give up on their schedule awards. If you receive this letter, know that this information is not true.

These are the regulations that should be brought to OWCP’s attention should you receive this letter. I’ve written them below in letter form so that if necessary, you can copy and paste into your letter to OWCP.

If you have to write this letter to OWCP bringing the regulations to their attention, you should also ask for written confirmation that OWCP is in fact going to properly process your schedule award.

These are the regulations that apply:

There is no provision under the Act that hinders a claim for a schedule award if a claimant still requires treatment for their injuries. A claimant can be rated for permanent impairment on the current findings. The FECA manual states:

“A schedule award may be payable based on contemporaneous medical evidence of record showing a peak or plateau in the claimant's recovery status, even if the claimant's condition is likely to deteriorate. Payment of an increased award based on additional impairment may be considered at a later date.” See FECA manual part three at 3-0700-3(b).

There is no provision under the Act that indicates a claimant is required to be released back to work in order to claim a schedule award. In point of fact, the FECA manual states:
“If payment for TTD is interrupted to pay a schedule award, such TTD payments must be resumed at the end of the schedule if the claimant has not been reemployed or rated for LWEC at the time the award ends. See FECA manual part two at 2-0808-7(5) and Goldie Washington, 31 ECAB 239 (1979).

A schedule award is not payable concurrently with wage-loss compensation, however a schedule award is payable consecutively with wage-loss compensation. The FECA manual states:

“A schedule award is payable consecutively but not concurrently with an award for wage loss for disability for the same injury. See FECA manual part two at 2-0808-4(3).