The U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Wednesday passed with unanimous support the Federal Workers' Compensation Modernization and Improvement Act (H.R. 2465). The legislation updates the federal workers' compensation program to better protect taxpayer resources and modernizes benefits to reflect the realities of today's economy.
Supporters said the bill will reform the federal workers’ compensation program by encouraging best practices in medical treatment and developments; granting greater authority to the Department of Labor to verify the earnings of workers using Social Security rrcords; and modernizing the benefits federal workers receive.
The measure also streamlines the claims process for workers who sustain a traumatic injury in a designated zone of armed conflict; authorizes the labor department to collect administrative costs and expenses from the federal agency that employs the injured or ill worker; ensures injuries sustained as the result of terrorism are covered as a war-risk hazard; and provides additional support for funeral expenses (up to $6,000) and for workers who sustain an injury that leads to facial disfigurement (up to $50,000).
"I am pleased we've been able to work together and move forward with commonsense reforms that will improve the efficiency of the federal workers' compensation program and promote better use of taxpayer dollars," said Chairman John Kline. "We can no longer afford to leave government programs on autopilot. I appreciate the bipartisan work of my colleagues, and look forward to building upon today's effort to further strengthen this program."
On May 12, the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, chaired by Rep. Tim Walberg, held a hearing to examine weaknesses in the current federal workers' compensation program. As Rep. Walberg noted Wednesday, "The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act has long represented our commitment to the men and women who serve our nation in the federal workforce." Rep. Walberg continued, "I am delighted to be a part of this bipartisan initiative to update and improve this important program."