Workers' Compensation

Selected Comparisons of Federal and State Laws Gao ID: GGD-96-76 April 3, 1996

Concerns have been raised that workers' compensation benefits authorized under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act may provide federal workers having job-related injuries with more generous benefits than other federal or state workers' compensation programs. This report compares (1) monetary benefits authorized by the act with those authorized by other workers' compensation laws and (2) other significant benefit provisions of federal and state workers' compensation laws, such as those involving waiting periods, physician choice, and coverage of occupational diseases.

GAO found that: (1) FECA provides the same types of benefits to injured federal workers as those provided by states, the Longshore and Harbor Worker's Compensation Act (LHWCA), and the District of Columbia workers compensation laws; (2) the principal workers' compensation benefits paid to claimants under all of these laws are compensation and medical benefits; (3) less than 1 percent of FECA long-term beneficiaries receive compensation based on the authorized maximum benefit amount; (4) whereas FECA provides claimants with dependents additional benefits, other worker compensation plans do not; (5) an increase in benefits for dependents is provided when the claimant exceeds the authorized maximum benefit level; (6) FECA provides federal workers suffering from traumatic injuries with immediate salary continuation benefits for 45 days before a 3-day waiting period begins; and (7) under LHWCA and other state laws, injured workers must be out of work for 3 to 7 days before they can receive wage-loss benefits, and if they are ineligible for those benefits, their employers may offer them salary continuation or paid sick leave.

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