Federal HR Policies Affecting Schedule A Appointment
The Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) (Title 5 U.S. Code, Chapter 81) provides compensation benefits to civilian employees of the United States for disability due to personal injury or disease sustained while in the performance of duty. FECA also provides for payment of benefits to dependents if a work-related injury or disease causes an employee’s death.
The FECA program is financed by the Employees’ Compensation Fund, which consist of monies appropriated by Congress or contributed by certain agencies from operating revenues. FECA provides monetary compensation, medical care and assistance, vocational rehabilitation, and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) retention rights to eligible employees who sustain injuries, including occupational diseases as a result of their employment. The Act also provides for the payment of funeral expenses and compensation benefits to qualified survivors of the decedent in cases of employment-related death.
Benefits provided under FECA constitute the sole remedy against the United States for work-related injury or death. An eligible employee or surviving dependent is not entitled to sue the United States or recover damages for such injury or death under any other law.
The Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) is administered by the Division of Federal Employee's Compensation (DFEC), United States Department of Labor (DOL). The Director for DFEC and the various Office of Workers' Compensation Program (OWCP) Regional Directors are responsible for the operation of the nation-wide program. There are 12 district offices and each office has a District Director who is responsible for office functions.
Effective January 31, 2003, the authority to grant Schedule A Excepted Appointments to Cooperative Extension Service (CES) employees was terminated. Public Law 107-171, Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, dated May 13, 2002, Section 7220, terminated the Schedule A appointing authority used by USDA to grant a companion Federal appointment and Federal benefits to state/university employees of the Cooperative Extension Service. The law allowed the CES Federal appointees that were employed on the day before the date of the enactment of the Act, i.e., May 12, 2002, to: a) continue to accrue Federal creditable service for retirement; and b) participate in the Federal benefit programs as long as the employees continued their employment with the Cooperative Extension Service.
The Federal Office of Workers Compensation Program (OWCP) is the only Federal program that will not continue as it is not a program that the dual appointee was vested in. Claims already on file with the Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Workers Compensation Office will continue to be processed by the DOL. Furthermore, the termination of the Federal appointments and the fact that they no longer are covered by the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) has impacted the FECA coverage provided to the Expanded Food and Nutrition Program (EFNEP) Aides. Since the CES organizations no longer have Federal employees, the EFNEP employees do not meet the criteria for FECA coverage because they will not be performing services similar to those performed by Federal employees, and they are not working under the control of Federal employees. Therefore, these employees are no longer eligible for FECA coverage either.
Office of Workers’ Compensation Program (OWCP) Charges and Chargebacks
The DOL provides information to the USDA HRD MSB on annual OWCP charges for CES employees. In addition, the DOL has an on-line Agency Query System (AQS) which allows OWCP managers and human resources personnel to review case files and payment information for the preceding six months. At the present time USDA HRD MSB has access to the DOL's AQS. You can contact the USDA HRD MSB if information is needed on specific case(s).
The costs of compensation for work-related injuries and deaths are assigned to employing agencies annually. This annual system which runs from July to June is called the OWCP Chargeback System. The Chargeback System is the mechanism used to assist the agencies in determining the amount of money needed for their compensation cases. Note: OWCP chargebacks are for the two years preceding the fiscal year in which the payments are reviewed and paid. Each year OWCP furnishes each agency with a statement of payments made from the Fund on account of injuries to its employees. The agencies include these amounts in their budget request. The sums appropriate or obtained from operating revenues are deposited in the Fund.
Each Cooperative Extension organization receives the information on their OWCP charges for the year two years prior to the current fiscal year and reports this data on their budget request, e.g., OWCP Chargebacks for 1999 will be added to the budget submitted in the 2001 fiscal year. This data needs to be reviewed and verified using the information in the organizations compensation case files. These chargebacks are essential to the Workers’ Compensation financial and accounting process as required by the FECA.
The Chargeback codes for CES are:
- 8509 CES 1 862 Land Grant Institutions
- 8510 CES 1890 Land Grant Institutions
- 8801 Expanded Food and Nutrition Program Aids (EFNEP)
The chargeback reports are forwarded to each CES office included in the report from the DOL on an annual basis. The CES OWCP coordinator should review the charges and approve the payments listed on the report. If the report has the name of an employee that is unknown to the coordinator that name should be crossed off and a note added that the employee does not belong to the CES office reviewing the report. If the employee is a former employee of the organization, and the injury or date of accident occurred while the employee was employed with the CES office the name and all relevant information remains on the report because the OWCP charges are the responsibility of the CES office where employed when the injury occurred. If the OWCP recipient is deceased, and/or a survivor is deceased, the employing CES office must work with USDA and DOL OWCP representatives to verify information and bring the OWCP case current.
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