USPS OIG: Curbing Workers’ Comp Abuses

blogart_workerscompAugust 10, 2015
Disability programs are vital for a nation that supports its citizens. In the United States, federal employees, including postal workers, who suffer employment-related injury or illness are entitled to workers’ compensation under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA).

The U.S. Postal Service funds workers’ compensation benefits for employees who sustain job-related injuries. In fiscal year (FY) 2014, the Postal Service incurred over $1.3 billion in workers’ compensation expenses. In addition, the Postal Service estimated its liability for future workers’ compensation costs at nearly $17.1 billion. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) administers the workers’ compensation program and then bills the Postal Service for reimbursement.

While most compensation claims are legitimate, fraud and abuse do occur. The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) focuses resources on identifying claimants and providers who defraud the system. In FY 2014, OIG investigations saved the Postal Service more than $275 million in future workers’ compensation costs, and arrested 82 individuals for workers’ compensation fraud.

One recent successful case highlights the type of cases our agents investigate:

fraud_investigatorA postal letter carrier had been receiving workers’ comp benefits since 2001 after claiming total disability from a back injury at work. Investigators, however, discovered he had started a landscaping company shortly after his claimed injury and was routinely working at that company. Agents observed the individual driving a dump truck, operating a riding lawn mower and a tractor, and directing the activities of other individuals at customer properties. Undercover investigators also hired the former carrier to perform landscaping work for them, which they video recorded and presented as evidence to prosecutors and the Department of Labor (DOL). These activities exceeded the former employee’s stated limitations and he failed to inform the DOL of his involvement in this business, both of which resulted in his conviction and the termination of his benefits.

This successful investigation alone saved the Postal Service approximately $664,000 in future workers’ compensation payments. What suggestions do you have for preventing workers’ compensation fraud? And if you suspect fraud by either a Postal Service employee or provider, please contact our office at 888-877-7644.

Source: Curbing Workers’ Comp Abuses | Office of Inspector General

2 thoughts on “USPS OIG: Curbing Workers’ Comp Abuses

  1. Union and NAME of Local/Branch
    NALC 4317
    Office held, if any

    There needs to be more emphasis on prevention of repeat repetitive stress type injured. There is almost no investment in adequate staffing and ergonomic equipment for the craft employees. The technology is ancient regarding the actual equipment used by the employees to perform the physical duties assigned on a daily basis. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. How much would the USPS save on Workers Compensation if they worked on ergonomic equipment and actually provided spring loaded hampers which most offices have broken bungee cords on? As well as actually staff properly so personnel get some recovery time from the repetitive physical stresses of the job. Instead of endless years of mandatory overtime. Too much emphasis on fraud and none on prevention. The unions could also do a great deal more to negotiate better conditions concerning these matters and better represent those who are forced mandatory overtime continuously without proper office staffing for years and decades.

  2. Union and NAME of Local/Branch
    APWU Philadelphia, PA Area Local #89 - Retiree Chapter
    Office held, if any
    Member / Rogue Rank and File Activist and Advocate

    Even while stating “most compensation claims are legitimate”, the OIG is fully aware USPS treats ALL claims as if they were fraudulent. This is an area a different agency (DOL, Congress, etc but NOT OIG) really needs to investigate and issue sanctions accordingly. Some injured workers continue to suffer through their pain and disability because they have feared retaliation up to and including losing their jobs for daring to report an injury.

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