Federal Workers Comp Blog

Georgetown Postal Worker Guilty of Fraud

Former U.S. Postal worker, Joseph Bouchard from Georgetown, MA, was found guilty of defrauding the OWCP out of funds exceeding $50,000 by claiming reimbursements related to travel that he claimed was necessary for his medical treatment. 

An overwhelming majority of federal workers are honest, hard-working people who simply want to know that there is assistance for them if they ever suffer an injury at work. Longtime USPS employee Bouchard, 67, however, proves that some are willing to commit fraud for their own gain and risk messing up the system for everyone.

The story can be read here. It states that, “From 2008 to 2014, while Bouchard was on medical leave, he submitted dozens of travel vouchers to fitness centers in Lexington, Lynnfield and Bedford for dates when he did not actually use those gyms or used a different gym of closer proximity.” 

While it may seem like a good idea or easy to pull one over on the government, claiming and receiving money that you are not entitled to amounts to fraud and can land you in jail, with steep financial penalties, and/or probation. Your benefits are available to you for legitimate reasons, but don’t break the law in order to get more than your fair share. 

Be honest and use honest doctors that will help you get the medical care you need.

Getting Your Paperwork Right

Whenever you have been injured on the job, the FECA (Federal Employees Compensation Act) and their regulations regarding implementation establish the number of weeks of compensation to be paid for permanent loss, or loss of use, of body members listed in the schedule. 

However, the FECA does not specify the manner in which the percentage of loss of a member shall be determined. In order for victims to receive consistent payouts and ensure that there is equal treatment for everyone who is injured, experienced doctors who understand the processes related to DOL claims prove to be valuable assets. This helps to establish uniform standards for claimants.

Claimants need to make sure that they have compiled sufficient information and details in order to provide the doctor with the necessary information to assess the impairment sufficiently. This will help to ensure the most accurate Scheduled Award for your injuries.

The doctor will, in turn, provide a diagnosis or assessment that should include any loss of degree of active motion of the affected body part or area, any loss of degree of passive motion of affected body part or area, any atrophy or deformity that has occurred, any decrease in strength or impairment, and or any other pertinent description of the injury and its effects.

All of this underscores the necessity of choosing a doctor that really understands the process of a DOL claim.

Fraudulent Claims Present a Burden to Others

In some cases, federal workers have been guilty of taking advantage of the benefits system provided under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act "which provides tax-free benefits to civilian federal employees who sustain injuries or an occupational disease as a result of their employment.” What are the risks to other federal workers when this happens?

A 2014 news story recounts that 11 federal employees were arrested and charged with theft of government funds, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and federal workers' compensation benefits fraud, carrying a maximum of five years. A guilty verdict could result in a dramatic change in life for these individuals.

The USPS is the largest participant in FECA, paying more than $1 billion in benefits annually. Spending this amount of money each year in employee benefits creates an intrinsic interest in preventing fraud. If employee fraud is found to be rampant, it could result in legislation that changes the rules and rule changes often affect those who are in legitimate need of disability compensation more severely than the fraudsters. Federal workers need to be mindful that their actions could hurt others. It is also important to make sure that your doctor is ethical and abides by the appropriate rules and guidelines for disability compensation and treatment. The recourse could affect many who are in actual need.

Injured? What Do You Do?

When an injury happens on the job, sometimes it’s hard to know what to do next. A lot of people are concerned that taking time off will jeopardize their standing with the company or lead to lost wages that are vital to the support of their family.

It is important to understand your compensation rights as provided under the OWCP compensation plan. As an employer, the US government provides benefits to federal workers who are hurt on the job and to the families of those employees who may suffer death on the job. For those who are injured, this includes costs related to treatment, therapy, medications, necessary medical devices, transportation costs etc. These costs may include vocational rehab training as well. Additionally, coverage is available for temporary total disability, permanent disability and even death.

If you are injured at work, you will need to file a OWCP claim in order to get a review of your file. In the case of an injury, you should notify your employer within 30 days and make sure that your federal workers compensation case gets a review with the OWCP. Additionally, an injury sustained on the job needs to be diagnosed by a doctor. Make sure to use a doctor (one of your choice, not the employer’s) that is familiar with the process of handling federal workers’ injury claims to ensure that the proper documentation is provided. 

Being hurt on the job can be scary, but taking the time to make sure you go through the proper procedures so that you get the compensation that you need can alleviate much of that anxiety and get you the compensation that you deserve.

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