Schedule Awards in OWCP
In OWCP, a Schedule Award is a schedule of payments for impairment of your extremities (arms and legs) or to another body part allowed by Department of Labor OWCP. That means that when you qualify for an OWCP Schedule Award, depending on the injured body part, you can be entitled to a financial award which is based on a pre-determined number of weeks in the OWCP impairment chart (see below).
You’ll notice that the chart does not show a schedule for the spine (cervical, thoracic, lumbar). Those areas are only covered if they result in symptoms that radiate into your extremities or cause any other permanent impairments to your extremities. At that point, the rating will be based on the extremities, instead of the spine.
OWCP Schedule Award payments can range from small to extremely large depending on the level of permanent impairment, as determined by your OWCP Injury Doctor. To be eligible however, you first need to have your OWCP injury claim approved by your DOL claims examiner. The most critical factor in getting your OWCP claim approved is your choice of doctor.
You Have the Right to Choose Your Own Doctor
20 CFR 10.300(d) says, “The employer should advise the employee of the right to his or her initial choice of physician. The employer shall allow the employee to select a qualified physician.”
Form CA-810, Section 6.3 states, “Agency personnel may not interfere with the employee’s right to choose a physician, nor may they require an employee to go to a physician who is employed by or under contract to the agency before going to the physician of the employee’s choice.”
Remember, no approved claim means no eligibility for a schedule award. So, choose your doctor wisely and don’t let your supervisor get in the way of that right.
How to Get an OWCP Schedule Award
Federal employees ask all the time how they can get a schedule award. Below, are the steps to getting your OWCP Schedule Award:
- Get your OWCP injury claim approved by going to a doctor who knows how to write winning OWCP narrative reports.
Follow all of your doctor’s advice and treatment plan until you have reached MMI.
- Attach a copy of your doctor’s impairment rating to a Form CA-7, Claim for Compensation, and select letter D, Schedule Award. Fill out the entire first page. Get your supervisor to fill out page 2 and turn the entire pack into your claims examiner. Always keep a copy for yourself.
- From here, you’ll have to wait for your OWCP claims examiner to approve or deny your impairment rating. If it’s approved, you’ll begin receiving payments based on the schedule above. If it is denied, you’ll need to take your denial letter back to your doctor and let your doctor address the denial with a new narrative report or a revised impairment rating.
- Finally, if your schedule award is denied by your OWCP claims examiner, you may need to hire a federal OWCP attorney. This is a last resort, but it could be the difference in being paid or not. The most important thing to remember is that your doctor needs to be trained in the 6th edition.
MMI means Maximum Medical Improvement. This is a medical decision, meaning only your doctor can make this determination. Once your doctor says you’re at MMI, or you’re as good as you’re going to get, then your doctor should perform an Impairment Rating based on the AMA’s 6th Edition Guide to Permanent Impairment. Note: Many doctors only know how to do 5th edition impairment ratings. These will be denied 100% of the time. Always make sure your doctor is trained to do 6th edition impairment ratings in OWCP.
For more information on schedule awards, you can check www.BreakingOWCP.com. Chris Helms has written 2 books for federal employees about OWCP, including very detailed chapters about Schedule Awards.