The inspector general of the Government Accountability Office has determined that a GAO employee received worker’s compensation for 30 years without raising any red flags at the agency.
During a September audit, GAO Inspector General Adam Trzeciak requested a copy of the compensation case file for a former employee who had been receiving benefits under the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) program since 1984. The GAO Human Capital Office, however, was unable to locate the case file.
After reviewing the employee’s case file through the Department of Labor’s Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs (OWCP), Trzeciak concluded that the former worker had been receiving improper payments from GAO for decades.
“Specifically, we found that the claimant abandoned suitable employment, yet continued to receive wage-loss compensation benefits,” Trzeciak said in a memo to GAO Chief Human Capital Officer Carolyn Taylor.
Injured workers following recovery are expected to return to the job once suitable work has been made available. Under FECA, the employee no longer has a right to disability compensation benefits if they turn down the suitable work, unless the employee can demonstrate his inability to do the work assigned to him.
The IG report also concludes that GAO did not send any documentation or notice to OWCP of the former employee’s rejection of suitable employment, which would have alerted OWCP to stop benefit payments.
Once OWCP accepts a compensation claim, it has the burden of justifying any changes to the claim.
In his report, Trzeciak recommends that GAO’s HCO review disability compensation claims annually to ensure that all claimants meet eligibility standards.