A claimant terminated for cause may lose entitlement to OWCP wage loss compensation. In the first instance, the OWCP will examine why you were terminated and if you can show, through medical evidence, that you were not capable of earning wages despite being terminated, you may be able to continue receiving wage loss compensation from the OWCP. Removal for medical inability to perform your job should not, by itself, negatively affect your entitlement to OWCP wage loss compensation. However, if the only reason you are not working is because you were terminated, and you were terminated for cause, then you are probably not entitled to OWCP wage loss compensation. In contrast, if you can establish that you were terminated because of your work-related medical condition, then you might be able to establish entitlement to OWCP wage loss compensation.
In determining your entitlement to wage loss compensation, the OWCP will consider whether you were working at the time of termination and what type of employment you held at the time of termination; e.g., a regular full duty position or a modified light duty position. It matters too if the OWCP has issued a loss of wage earning capacity determination, whether the employing agency had light duty available to you, and whether the position you held had been found suitable by the OWCP.
If at the time of termination you are on leave without pay and receiving OWCP compensation wage loss and the reason for termination is related to your disabling medical condition, then you should be able to establish continued entitlement to wage loss compensation. See Regina C. Burke, 43 ECAB 399 (1992); Thomas E. Keplinger, 46 ECAB 699 (1995). Typical reasons that fall into this category are: absenteeism, failure to provide medical updates, failure to follow leave procedures.
The ECAB has held that “when a claimant stops work for reasons unrelated to his accepted employment injury, he has no disability within the meaning of the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act.” Bruce Johnson, Docket No. 00-145, issued December 22, 2000. Analysis of relevant cases reveal, however, that it is not merely the termination for cause which makes a claimant ineligible for wage-loss compensation. The seminal ECAB case in this area is John W. Normand, 39 ECAB 1378 (1988). In Normand, the claimant was removed from his light-duty position for disciplinary reasons, and the ECAB affirmed the determination that the employee was not entitled to compensation.
If you resign your position, then your wage loss benefits can be terminated if the OWCP finds that you abandoned a suitable job. In addition, OWCP wage loss compensation is not available to claimants convicted of certain types of crimes, such as government fraud. Hence, if you were convicted of certain crime or if the employing agency removed you for theft or fraud, you may not be eligible for wage loss benefits.
If you need legal counsel, contact Denver OWCP Attorney Gregory A. Hall at http://federalworkerscompattorney.com/
The information on this blog or website is not legal advice.