Federal employee advocates to Congress: Don’t cut workers’ comp
A federal employees group has reiterated its opposition to potential changes to workers’ compensation laws, saying the update would result in huge benefits cuts to retirees who have been injured on the job.
The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association pointed to a provision included in the Senate’s postal reform bill that calls for a cut in the benefits to all retirement-age employees collecting workers’ compensation.
The bill would modify the 1916 Federal Employees Compensation Act, which currently provides workers disabled on the job 66 2/3 percent -- or 75 percent if they have dependents -- of the salary they earned while working, plus related medical expenses for their entire lives. The change would provide eligible former employees with 50 percent of their former salary and eliminate the additional benefits for those with dependents.
A recent Government Accountability Office report found the changes would result in workers’ compensation recipients collecting 31 percent to 35 percent less than retirees collecting benefits through the Federal Employees Retirement System.
“On behalf of the nearly 5 million federal employees and annuitants represented by the NARFE,” president Joseph Beaudoin wrote in a letter to Congress, “I respectfully urge you to oppose any legislation that includes substantial and unfair reductions in federal workers’ compensation benefits.”
Beaudoin said he instead supports the Federal Workers’ Compensation Modernization and Improvement Act, which passed the House in November 2011. The bill would streamline the claims process for those workers who sustain a traumatic injury in a designated armed conflict zone, label injuries sustained due to terrorism as war-risk hazards, and provide $6,000 in benefits for funeral expenses and $50,000 in compensation for facial disfiguration. It also would permit physician assistants and nurse practitioners to certify disability for traumatic injuries and ensure that they are reimbursed for their services. In addition, it would allow the Labor Department, which administers workers' compensation, to verify federal employees' salaries against Social Security Administration data and to collect administrative fees from employing agencies.