Alan J. Shapiro

PHONE: 216-927-2030
FAX: 216-763-2620

Important Information on Federal Workers' Compensation



Federal Workers’ Compensation Modernization and Improvement Act (HR 2465)


This is a link to the PDF of the text of H.R.2465.RFS (the Library of Congress Thomas Bill Text Version Referred in Senate

I was a featured speaker at the Federal Workers’ compensation conference for Agency and Union personnel. Mr. Mitchell, HR Specialist for TSA, presented an excellent lecture on proposed changes in Federal Workers’ compensation benefits. While the changes are called “reforms”, as you can imagine, they are not claimant favorable. The changes have been approved by the House of Representatives and sent to the Senate. There are many objections to the proposed changes, and it is not clear what the new Senate will do with it. The new Senate will certainly be more sensitive to the injured worker. I think the President will also be more sensitive to the injured claimant.

The following are the main provisions of the bill:

1. All compensation for new claims will be paid at 70% of the claimant’s wage whether or not the claimant has any dependents. Currently, compensation for claimants with a dependent receive 75% and claimants without dependents receive 66 2/3%. The vast majority of Federal employees have at least one dependent. Therefore, most injured workers will receive less compensation under the proposal. Remember, the injured worker has already lost overtime, pension contributions, thrift savings, and step increases.

2. Schedule Awards will be paid at 70% of the pay rate for a GS 11 step3. Presently Schedule Awards are paid at either 75% or 66 2/3% of the average weekly wages plus cost of living if applicable. The effect of this proposed change will lower the payments to employees such as border patrol, drug enforcement, FBI, and most importantly to claimants with long term government employment. My guess is that the majority of claimants would receive less. Employees with dangerous jobs (i.e. carry weapons) usually are higher paid, are more severely injured, but would receive less in benefits.

3. If a retired employee receives a Schedule Award, then the claimant receives only receives only 50% of the GS 11 step3 rate. If a claimant waits until the claimant retires, then he loses 20% of the award under this proposal.

4. At age 62, Temporary Total compensation is reduced to 50%. This is true whether or not the claimant elects to receive his Social Security at age 62. Remember if you elect your Social Security early, you lose a significant portion of your benefit.

5. Death Benefits will be reduced by a new formula. However, they did throw the family a bone. Funeral expenses will be paid at $6000 rather than $800. There are relatively few death claims. Also, if anyone needs increase in benefits, it is the decedent’s family.

6. The claimant MUST agree to release all Social Security information.

7. The nurse case manager, will now be assigned early in the claims process. We all know the true purpose of the nurse case manager.

8. Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners can certify or refuse to certify COP which is Compensation for the first 45 days. I am of the opinion that it is very important for the doctor to control return to work and not less qualified individuals.

9. The proposed law requires a permanent election between Workers Compensation benefits and retirement benefits. Even if Workers’ Compensation cease, the claimant cannot change back to retirement benefits.


In my opinion, the proposed changes will in no way produce a more efficient OWCP agency. The proposed changes, will apply only to new claims, so the savings to the Agencies will not appear for a number of years

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AMA Guide 6th Edition

The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) now requires that all medical examinations comply with the AMA Guide 6th edition. Federal Workers' Compensation attorney Alan J Shapiro attended an intensive two day class to learn about the requirements of the AMA Guide 6th edition so that he could more effectively represent his Federal Workers' Compensation clients.

Information about the AMA (American Medical Association) Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment Sixth edition

Dear Clients,

My wife and I attended an intensive two day seminar (February 20 and 21 2011) in Tampa Florida. The seminar was presented by the American Board of Independent Medical Examiners (ABIME). The purpose of this course was training in and discussion about the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment 6th Edition. There were approximately 100 doctors in attendance. I was the only practicing attorney. The focus of the seminar was to present practical information on how to perform high quality independent medical evaluations using the AMA Guides.

The course instructors were articulate, and well informed. The first day went from 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM. It was extremely intense. The second day's session was from 7:30 AM to 12 noon.

The Good News:

  1. I have a much better understanding of the formula and the internal working of the AMA Guide 6th Edition.
  2. I met several physicians who are interested in performing 6th Edition impairment evaluation exams.
  3. I also met several physicians who are interested in providing causal relationship examinations.

We are hoping that the location of these physicians will make it more convenient for our clients to secure quality impairment exams.

The bad news:

a) The "Guide System" is not a "guide". It is a mandatory edict. The AMA Guide to Impairment Evaluation 6th Edition severely retards the physician's ability to provide an experienced based estimate of physical damage.

b) A premise for the newest edition (6th) is to "reflect the latest scientific research and evolving medical evidence". Research on the prior guides produced criticisms including "a failure to provide a comprehensive, valid, reliable, unbiased, and evidence-based rating system."

c) In my opinion, while the new 6th edition does result in greater inter-rater reliability, the impairment numbers produce results that do not adequately compensate the injured worker for damage done to his/her body..

d) OWCP says it is using "Guide 6th edition" to produce uniform results. However, the "Guides 6th edition" is designed to translate a work related injury into a quantified model for permanent impairment. The 6th edition guide, which is revised to reflect current medical research, is still somewhat arbitrary, and thus can produce ridiculous results if the numerical value is not examined to see if it accurately reflects the reality of the scenario of a specific injured worker. This is a legal "straight jacket" because the FECA system accepts the AMA Guide 6th edition impairment rating as the final rating, and not as the basis of a forensic investigative process.

Conclusion: The Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment Sixth edition were not designed to produce a mandated impairment rating. Rather, it was designed to be the basis for the application of scientific knowledge to legal problems.

As a result of the legal mandate to use the number obtained from a AMA Guide 6th edition medical evaluation as the mandated impairment rating, the IME (Independent Medical Examiner) physicians have a huge influence on the outcome of the award. The medical community attempted to design a system that would be based upon the latest models of disablement and on the medical examiner's expertise to produce a reliable and valid numerical estimate for impairment.

Lastly, while I understand how to do the exams, my law license does not permit me to perform them, so we will have to continue to work with OWCP, BHR and ECAB and the physician community.

Sincerely yours,

Alan J Shapiro

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Good news concerning National Reassessment Program

I have received numerous inquires concerning the Post Office's "National Reassessment Program". You have every reason to be seriously concerned. However, I have good news for you. An excellent law firm has been retained to pursue a class action lawsuit. Jerry Wright, a very experienced, professional, and skilled attorney will be working as co-counsel on the matter. He has filed the law suit. As of September 2, 2009, the Class has been certified, but the Post Office has appealed to the Court of Appeals.

However, do not call or write to Attorney Wright! There is a contact person to handle your questions, and to register you as part of the law suit. The organization and contact person is as follows:

Thomas & Soloman 693 East Avenue Rochester, NY 14607 Phone: 877-272-4066 Please ask to speak with Erin Graham.

If management in any way tries to invoke the National Reassessment program, you should immediately do the following:

  1. File a grievance
  2. File EEO
  3. Write to your Congress representative
  4. Register with the class action attorney
  5. File a CA-2a
  6. I also recommend that you contact the firm of Melville Johnson to discuss the EEO, ADA and Merit System Protection Board claims. Phone 877-524-9111

It is also important to remember that you must always comply with a direct order from Management. The first rule of Labor Law is: "Always comply with an order and grieve." Do not engage in a discussion with management, go to your union. If the employer offers you any work, no matter how few hours, I recommend that you accept the offer.

Please call me at 216-927-2030 if you want to contact me about your Federal Workers' Compensation claim. You can also send an email to

Sincerely yours,

Alan J Shapiro

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Management Refusal to Grant Overtime to Injured Workers

The Post Office and even some other agencies have for many years maintained that a limited duty employee may be subject to job restrictions not applied to other employees. In many instances, the agencies have been refusing overtime and other work to limited duty employees who are fully capable of performing the work. The only reason that they are not being given the work is that they are on limited duty.

A class action law suit has been filed concerning this matter. I know the law firm handling the action, and they are very competent, professional, and experienced. The following is the contact information:

Class Contact Information: 621 17th Street Suite 925 Denver, CO 80293 Telephone: Toll Free (800) 280-8301 In the past, I have recommended that the worker file a grievance and EEO complaint. Frankly, these actions have not been very productive. Please consult with your union to see how they advise you to proceed with a grievance or EEO complaint. However, you absolutely should contact the attorneys to be a part of the class.

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Alert: Third party claims involving Injured Federal Workers

If you are a Federal employee and you have suffered injury or occupational disease as a result of the negligence of a third party – a non US government person – you may have a claim against that person. However, your government agency has a subrogation claim. This means that they have a right to part of any recovery. The Solicitor General of the United States is now actively attempting to protect the interest of the Agency and to collect funds. The injured Federal worker, in my opinion, needs the representation an experienced workers compensation attorney. The attorney must be licensed in the state where the injury occurred. Mr. Shapiro is a member of WILG, a national organization of attorneys who exclusively represent injured workers. Mr. Shapiro has met and worked with many of these attorneys. You may contact Mr. Shapiro for a suggestion of an attorney in your community.

Please note that Mr. Shapiro can not give you any legal advice as to the third party claim, however, he urges you to remember that there are statute of limitations concerning these third party claims. The injured Federal worker needs to confer with a local attorney as soon as possible. Because of the interplay of the Federal Workers Compensation claim and the third party claim, attorney involvement is necessary. The Solicitor's Office has warned federal injured workers that recent changes in 20 CFR section 10.715 require that interest charges be added to any debt created by the third party action.

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DISCLAIMER: The content of this Web site is intended to convey general information about OWCP Attorney Alan J. Shapiro. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. It is not an offer to represent you, nor is it intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The content of any Internet e-mail sent to OWCP Attorney Alan J. Shapiro at the e-mail addresses set forth in this Web site will not create an attorney-client relationship and will not be treated as confidential. All uses of the contents of this site, other than personal uses, are prohibited. Copyright 2009 Alan J. Shapiro. All rights reserved.

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