Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.
I am currently a Fire Chief working for the Air Force. Last March, I had a stroke while on-duty. Initially, my agency placed me on workman’s comp with the Department of Labor (OWCP) and I was placed on COP stats pending treatment/recovery. I returned to work two weeks after my stroke for half days. Two weeks later I was back to work full time.
I am in picture perfect health, very active and work out (running, weights, biking) six days a week. After about three months after my stroke, OWCP denied my claim that it was work related and forced me to pay all outstanding medical bills. My FEHB (APWU) would not pay for outstanding medical claims because they stated I should have filed the illness under the PPO/HMO guidelines and waiting to do so caused me to not be covered.
Because of my special duty as a federal firefighter, can my stroke be claimed as a duty-related injury with disability benefits?
You can appeal the FEHBP denial to OPM. The Department of Labor makes final OWCP claims and there is an appeal process within DOL. You should fully exercise our rights to prevent being caught in a Catch 22.
Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.
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