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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

NRP Withdrawal of Modified Work is a Valid Basis for a Recurrence

The Postal Service National Reassessment Program (NRP) has caused countless USPS employees to lose their jobs or have their hours reduced to as little as one hour of work per day. I get many calls these days from USPS employees who have been put off the clock, partially or totally, with the Postal Service saying that they don't have work available. If you have an approved federal workers compensation claim, and this happens to you, you should file a Recurrence immediately. On the Recurrence Form (CA-2a), where you are asked to describe the Recurrence (box 21), you should indicate that your temporary modified duty job was taken away or your hours were reduced. You must also start filing CA-7 forms at the end of every pay period. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE regarding any of this.

OWCP should approve your Recurrence based upon the USPS withdrawing work. Make sure you have in writing from the USPS what has happened, and send a copy of that letter directly to OWCP. Remember, as always, to put your claim number on every piece of paper you send to OWCP.

If OWCP responds by telling you that you are not entitled to a Recurrence because a wage earning capacity decision was issued previously in your case, you should call me. Many such decisions were issued improperly over the last 20 years and can be overturned.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Metal Spray Powders

I was recently reminded of a client who passed away some time ago who had worked as a welder on a military base repairing parts from fighter jets. Unfortunately, this mission-critical task exposed him to metal spray powders that caused him to develop Nasopharyngeal cancer, and he eventually passed away from complications from this illness. When he came to me, his benefits had been denied repeatedly and it was very satisfying to help straighten out his case. He was able to receive life-prolonging treatments that his health insurance was not willing to pay for, and his family continues to receive support from OWCP by way of survivor benefits now that he is gone. Welders who used metal spray powders are at risk of developing serious health problems. Nasopharyngeal cancer is just one of various life-threatening illnesses that is tied to exposure to nickel and other metals found in these products. If you worked with metal spray powders, or have a friend or loved one who did, and have been diagnosed with cancer or other illnesses, it may well be due to that work-related exposure.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Beware the Intervention Nurse

One way that OWCP likes to “bully” injured workers is to assign an intervention nurse soon after an injury or following surgery. The nurse’s goal is to get your doctor to curtail treatment and return you to work, despite your health.

Although the nurse does not have the right to sit in on your appointment with your doctor, many will try. If you allow the nurse in to the examination room during your appointment, this can cause several problems. You are no longer free to discuss your situation with your doctor. The nurse’s presence will increase the time it takes for your examination. And, the nurse may annoy your doctor by questioning his treatment plan and/or harassing him to release you back to work.

You should discuss this situation with your doctor. One solution is for your doctor to advise the assigned nurse that any meeting should occur after your appointment, and the nurse will need to prepay for the amount of time that the nurse wishes the doctor to set aside.

YOU need to have a good rapport with your doctor. Do not let the intervention nurse jeopardize this!