Many postal employees are wondering how the government shutdown is affecting Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) claims. The adjudication of OWCP claims and the payment of workers’ compensation benefits are considered essential work, so the claims examiners who are assigned these duties in the Department of Labor’s field offices are continuing to work. Employees who are injured at work during the shutdown or who have existing claims should expect routine service on these matters, said Human Relations Director Sue Carney.
OWCP employees who are not directly responsible for claims adjudication or compensation payment are furloughed, including customer service staff in all 12 of the OWCP District Offices. Although claimants and their representatives are unable to speak with OWCP personnel during the shutdown, basic information regarding wage loss compensation payments, claim status, accepted conditions and some general information can be obtained through the Automated Information Telephone System by calling their respective OWCP District Office and following the prompts. A claim number and Social Security number are needed to access this case information.
Medical authorizations and bill processing are handled by OWCP’s contractor, ACS, and should be unaffected, she said.
OWCP’s computer-based operations, such as the Claimant Query System (CQS) and ECOMP are being maintained and functional during the shutdown. Like the automated phone system, basic information about case status can be accessed through CQS. Claimants are able to submit documentation through ECOMP using the “Access Case and Upload Document” portion of the site. A claim number, the date of injury, the claimant’s last name and birthdate are required to access or upload case information. The Agency Query System (AQS) also remains operational for authorized APWU local and state representatives.
The APWU Human Relations Department is available to union officers seeking additional guidance to assist our members. However, it should be noted that the Division of Federal Employees Compensation Branch of Technical Assistance and the Branch of Regulations, Policy and Procedures in OWCP’s national office are also furloughed. “These are our primary contacts and this may delay our ability to provide a prompt response and input,” Carney said.