Multiple Problems With the 1974 Amendments to the Federal Employees' Compensation Act

Gao ID: HRD-79-80 June 11, 1979

The number of lost-time injury claims filed by federal workers increased sharply following legislative changes in 1974 which allowed employees' pay to continue uninterrupted for 45 days after a traumatic injury and gave them free choice of a physician.

Removal of a previously required waiting period has encouraged employees to file claims for minor and frivolous injuries and for injuries of short duration. A random selection of 410 continuation-of-pay (COP) claims showed that, based on the duration of the injuries and on other available factors, as many as 46 percent of all claims might have been eliminated by a 3-day waiting period. Lacking agency controls, the free-choice-of-physician provision has contributed to COP abuse. The Department of Labor has not provided employing agencies with sufficient authority to carry out their responsibility for managing injury claims; and the degree of management varies widely among agencies. A large backlog of claims in Labor's district offices has hindered the COP program; while short-cuts taken to try to control the volume of claims has allowed erroneous and unsupported claims to get through the system.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: Morton E. Henig Team: General Accounting Office: Human Resources Division Phone: (202) 275-5365

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