Federal Employees News Digest

Union slams WH plans to cut workers’ comp

As the nation’s cities are wracked by pandemic and social conflict, the health of federal employees is under threat as they serve in frontline and indispensable security posts. Yet, the White House presses on with a plan to cut workers’ comp. One union, the American Federation of Government Employees, is firing back at the plan.

“Our civil servants have been on the front lines keeping essential services running throughout this pandemic, putting their own health and safety at risk,” AFGE National President Everett Kelley said. “It shows the absolute disdain this administration has for everyday working people that they would even suggest that these front-line workers’ reward for their service should be a cut in benefits if they get sick or injured while on duty,” he added.

The plan, laid out in the administration’s 2021 budget proposal -- and included in the draft National Defense Authorization Act -- would hack away at benefits, bringing “steep cuts in workers’ compensation,” AFGE said.

Currently, feds with dependents who successfully claim workers’ comp for illness or injury are paid at 75% salary, while those with no dependents are compensated with 66⅔% of salary. In future, under the administration’s plan, all claimants would get only 66⅔%.

In another diminution of the program, the new rules would attach additional cuts applicable at retirement and after, pegged specifically to claimants’ age at the time their disability began.

For feds who continue to suffer work-related disability at retirement age, the older a fed was at the time of disability, the more punishing the cut. For example, a claimant aged anywhere from 35 to 54 at the time of injury would receive, after retirement, only 58% of their full salary. A claimant 55 to 65 would get only 50%, and someone over 66 would get only 45%.  For all injuries, there would also be a new three-day “waiting period,” during which workers would not be compensated through the program.

The administration claims the plan would save $212 million over 10 years, the union noted -- condemning the cuts as “savings on the backs of the injured.”

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