Like non-federal employees, those employed by the federal government are entitled to workers compensation benefits if they are injured at work. It is important, however, that the injured federal worker not confuse the Continuation of Pay (COP) benefit, a form of disability compensation, as indication that their Office of Workers Compensation (OWCP) claim has been accepted. Federal workers must know that part of the application process for COP overlaps the application process for federal workers compensation.
Although easily confusing, the COP benefit is provided by the employing agency to an employee with a traumatic work related injury. Those with occupational disease claims must use a different form to apply for federal workers compensation, the CA-2, Notice of Occupational Disease and Claim for Compensation form, and these individuals are not entitled to receive COP.
To further understand the different benefits and determine what you may or may not be eligible for, we should explain COP. COP, or Continuation of Pay, is a benefit that allows for a federal employee to receive up to 45 calendar days of their regular pay due to disability. This benefit is paid as salary rather than compensation and is subject to typical payroll deductions like retirement contributions and income taxes. This pay rate does not allow for Sunday pay or lost overtime wages, but will include missing night differential, hazard, premium and holiday pay.
The injured employee must file the CA-1, the Federal Employee’s Notice of Traumatic Injury and Claim for Continuation of Pay/Compensation form, within 30 days of the injury. An employing agency will not authorize COP benefits or medical care without a signed CA-1.
When a federal worker suffers a traumatic injury, they do not have to use their accumulated leave time. The exception to this occurs if the employee’s COP is terminated as a result of financial circumstances and the employee then must use the CA-7, the Claim for Compensation Due to Traumatic Injury or Occupational Disease form, to apply for accumulated leave time, leave without pay and workers compensation. Remember, the federal workers compensation is non-taxable pay – 66% of your regular pay if you have no minor dependants or 75% if you do have minor dependants.
Check back next week for more information about COP.