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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Submit Your OWCP Forms Online

OWCP has gone live with a new function that allows for web submission of forms and documents. You can submit a new claim form to create your case without going through your agency if you follow the instructions to first file the OSHA form. CA-7 and CA-7a forms can be submitted as well. There is a separate function to upload documents. This is pretty amazing, I wonder if it really works. I submitted a document in one of my cases today to see what happens. Here is a link:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Do I need a lawyer to represent me with my OWCP claim for FECA benefits?

This is a question that I get asked quite often. OWCP sends claimants form letters telling them that they do not need a lawyer to represent them. When asked this question, I try to explain that after almost 20 years, there is a lot that someone like me can bring to the table. While speaking with a prospective client the other day I ran across a situation that answers this question pretty conclusively. Unfortunately, Ms. X's OWCP claim has recently been terminated. The termination was premised upon the report from a physician, Menachem Meller, MD, who the Employees Compensation Appeals Board indicated in a July 26, 2011 decision should not perform referee examinations. Based upon that decision, OWCP stopped sending my clients to that doctor, but this injured worker was sent a notice in September 2011 to attend an examination with this doctor who predictably wrote a report indicating she had fully recovered from her injuries when her own doctors continue to explain she has most certainly not recovered. If I had been representing her at that time, OWCP would not have sent her to this doctor, and if they did, I would have known to object. Even though FECA is supposed to be a noneadversarial process, and OWCP has an obligation to protect injured workers, in practice, OWCP treats injured workers in an adversarial manner and pretends that an injured worker is fully informed about all nuances of this process. So the answer to that common question in this case is that if I had been representing Ms. X she would most likely not even have been sent to this doctor, and if she had, I would have known to object to them selecting him, and she would then most likely not have had her benefits terminated. There is a great deal that a knowledgeable and zealous representative can bring to the process, OWCP is not looking out for you.