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Friday, January 5, 2018

OWCP Periodic Roll payment schedule 2018

OWCP's 2018 payment schedule is now accessible on the web. It can become confusing to understand what date the next payment is due from OWCP as they issue payments on a 28 day cycle, 13 times a year. Here is a link to the 2018 payment schedule:

https://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/regs/compliance/Periodic-Roll-Payment-Schedule.htm

Friday, December 8, 2017

OWCP's medical bill processing web portal - new address effective December 31, 2017



Effective December 31, 2017, the web address for OWCP’s medical bill processor (currently Conduent) will change. The web address “https://owcp.dol.acs-inc.com” will no longer be valid for access to the Web Bill Processing Portal.  

The new web address is https://owcpmed.dol.gov
 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Arnold Berman - Did OWCP decide your schedule award based upon a report from this doctor? If so, there seems to be a good chance he got it wrong.

When you suffer a permanent injury to a body part, you are often due a schedule award for that permanent condition. Your impairment rating should be for all of the conditions impairing the rated body part, not just the accepted condition. OWCP sends files to doctors to review the schedule award requests. They call those doctors District Medical Advisors (DMA). A DMA reviews your file and writes a memo advising OWCP whether or not your rating was done correctly and your schedule award is processed based upon those memos. Unfortunately, Arnold Berman has continued to make basic errors in his reports regarding concepts that are so well established that OWCP ran a special training program this past May and required all of the DMAs to attend so that they would not continue to make the same types of basic errors over and over. It is unclear why, even after that training, Arnold Berman continues to make such errors that result in a lower rating than what someone is entitled to receive. OWCP has recognized in this most recent case that Arnold Berman failed to follow the basic concepts applicable to the case and arranged for some sort of remedial training so that this hopefully does not continue to occur.

If your schedule award is based upon a DMA memo by Anold Berman, there is a good chance he rated you lower than what you should have been rated.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Why did OWCP send me a letter telling me to meet with a Quality Assurance Specialist ("QAS")

I recently heard of a claimant whose benefits are handled by the Cleveland OWCP office who received a letter demanding that the claimant travel 4.5 hours to meet with an individual who was identified as a Quality Assurance Specialist (QAS). This time the letter did not provide the name of the person the claimant was to meet with. The last time I saw a letter like this, the person identified as the QAS was actually a criminal investigator from USDOL.

Its not clear whether the persons receiving these letters are being specifically targeted or perhaps this is just the usual routine over the top OWCP bullying techniques.

When OWCP sends you a letter telling you to do something, if there is an explicit threat that if you don't cooperate your benefits will be sanctioned, then you cannot ignore the letter. However, if the letter does not give you notice that there is a penalty for not responding, then you may want to consider whether or not you respond.

The fact that the person acting as a "QAS" in the previous such communication I reviewed regarding this was in reality a criminal investigator, makes me concerned that if you receive a letter like this, you may want to have a lawyer handle your communications regarding the request that you meet with the "QAS" person.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Under limited circumstances you can get reimbursed for attorney fees and other unreimbursed expenses related to your OWCP claim

This is a topic I posted some years ago, but its important and bears repeating. If you are receiving a check from OWCP and are also entitled to Social Security Disability payments from SSA, you may be able to recover your attorney fees from SSA if your Social Security disability check is being offset (reduced) because you are receiving a check from OWCP. This also applies to other expenses related to your workers compensation such as paying for medical reports.

SSA has a document available online explaining how to report attorney fees paid in connection with receiving wage loss benefits from OWCP. The attorney fees (and other qualifying expenses) will be used to reduce the offset amount. Please click on the link below to SSA POMS - DI 52150.050 - Excludable Expenses, and carefully follow SSA's instructions:

https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0452150050
If this link does not work, do a google search for the document number  "POMS 0452150050"

Saturday, September 23, 2017

How do I find out the injury codes that OWCP has approved on my federal workers compensation case?

I frequently speak to OWCP claimants who do not know what specific medical conditions their case is approved for. This can lead to problems when it turns out your case was only approved for a minor condition or aspects of your injuries were never accepted. This is also important information to share with your doctors as bills will not get paid, surgery will not get authorized, and a multitude of other problems can arise if your doctors are not using the codes your case is approved for or explaining in reports why the coding needs to be corrected.

If you are not sure what medical conditions your case is approved for, you can now view that information through OWCP's Claimant Query System (CQS) system. Many current federal employees are able to access CQS through the National Finance Center (NFC) website:

https://www.nfc.usda.gov/index.php


However, if you do not have NFC access, such as anyone who is no longer a federal employee, you can log in directly to the CQS system by following this link:

https://owcpconnect.dol.gov/owcplogin/?site=cqs

It is important to make sure that your doctors are aware of the exact accepted medical conditions from your case and that you make sure that if conditions need to be upgraded or added to your case, that you arrange for your doctor to provide a good narrative report explaining how the additional condition(s) relate to the mechanism of how you were injured.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Claimant Query System (CQS) Update

Several years ago OWCP cut off direct claimant access to the Claimant Query System (CQS) due to massive amounts of medical billing fraud due to the very weak log in authentication utilized at that time. Subsequently, OWCP claimants were only able to access CQS information if they remained active federal employees through the National Finance Center (NFC) web interface. However, claimants who were no longer federal employees and their representatives have had no online access over the last several years.

OWCP has been working on restoring a standalone CQS access and has now launched a new portal. CQS is a secure site where injured workers may log in to view information on their case status, compensation payments and compensation claim tracking. Access to CQS is now available through a new site called OWCP Connect, which allows individuals with existing claims under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA), to register for an account and log in after authenticating their credentials.  Claimants may navigate to OWCP Connect by clicking here. If that link does not work for you paste the following into your browser https://owcpconnect.dol.gov/owcplogin/?site=cqs

 
During the account registration process, claimants must prove their identity by validating information entered against secure Credit Bureau data. Claimants will need to successfully answer questions posed by the Credit Bureau about their credit history in order to verify their identity. Information available to the credit bureau about an injured worker’s credit history will be used for identity verification only, and this information will not be saved or stored in OWCP records.

After a claimant’s identity has been authenticated, they will create a password, security image, key phrase and security questions for the account. Once an account has been created, the claimant may log into OWCP Connect and access CQS by entering their OWCP case file number. A case may only be accessed if the personal information associated with the OWCP Connect account matches the information associated with the OWCP case file. Please note that for federal agencies serviced by the National Finance Center (NFC), access to CQS will continue to be available to injured workers by logging into NFC’s Employee Personal Page.