Understanding the Differences Between State and Federal Workers’ Compensation

Federal Workers’ Compensation, US

Federal Workers’ Compensation, US

State Vs. Federal Workers’ Compensation: Understanding Distinctions

When you’re injured on the job, navigating the complexities of workers’ compensation can be as daunting as the injury itself. For government employees in the United States, there may be even more hoops to jump through as you understand the differences between state and federal workers’ compensation. Thankfully, Aumiller Lomax is here to help you better comprehend the distinctions between these two systems. We’ve worked with thousands of clients in the Northeastern United States and across the country. Here’s our guide to the difference between state and federal workers’ compensation.

What Is State Workers’ Compensation?

First, let’s pin down some definitions. At its core, state workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured while on the job. Typically, “state workers’ compensation” will apply to any private or public sector employee in a given state, with certain exceptions, including employees of the federal government. In exchange for these guaranteed benefits, employees relinquish their right to sue their employers. This setup creates a compromise: specific injuries are assured coverage, while employers reduce their risk of a lawsuit.

In this system, workers do not usually have to prove fault to earn compensation. However, each state has its own laws and regulations for workers’ compensation.

Understanding Federal Workers’ Compensation

There are a few different laws that would generally be referred to as “federal workers’ compensation.” These laws are meant for specific sectors of federal employees or non-federal workers that fall under a federal jurisdictionif they are injured at work. The most well-known among these is the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA), which provides compensation benefits to civilian employees of the United States federal government.

Who Receives Coverage

When looking at the differences in state vs. federal workers’ compensation systems, the key distinction is who gets covered. The state program covers anyone working for a state agency or covered private employer. In contrast, the federal program only covers civilian employees working in the federal government. Covered employees include those working for the following agencies, among others:

What Benefits Can I Expect?

Both state and federal workers’ compensation offers similar benefits to injured employees. Whether you have a minor sprain or a significant injury, you may be entitled to compensation if you were hurt on the job. Our team can help you consider pathways for securing compensation for the following purposes:

  • Medical care
  • Wage replacement (up to 45 days of pay under the federal program in traumatic injury cases)
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Temporary or permanent disability benefits

Know the Claims and Appeal Processes

The contrasts between state and federal workers’ compensation pick up again with their claims and appeals processes. Each program has its own procedures, and the attorneys at Aumiller Lomax can help you understand how to navigate the process. Here’s what you should know about each:


Employees of state and private companies should report injuries to their supervisors right away. They will then file their claim with their state’s designated program. In some cases, employees may also have the right to file private suits. Should their claims not be approved initially, the appeals process involves refiling the case and presenting it before a judge. The requirements are different state to state, so you should always, as quickly as possible, consult with an attorney who focuses on state workers compensation and is licensed to practice law in your state.


Federal workers who have been injured on the job report their incidents to their employers. Claims are filed with the United States Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP). The procedures in the FECA system are dramatically different than most state workers’ compensation systems. There is no court system. There is no insurance company. The claims process is handled primarily by the OWCP. In some cases, it may be worth appealing to to the Employees’ Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB). Many attorneys that practice state workers’ compensation do not practice federal workers’ compensation. As such, they are often unfamiliar with the dramatic differences in claims processing.

Limitations of the Compensation System

As you discern the variations between state and federal workers’ compensation, you’ll come to find that neither system is perfect. Both have certain limitations, and it helps to have a legal professional on your side as you navigate these challenges. Be aware of these limitations:

  • Accessibility—State systems may vary in accessibility and benefits, and some places have simpler processes than others. Federal programs offer a more uniform approach to compensation.
  • Speed—State systems might resolve claims faster due to local governance, while federal claims could be subject to longer processing times due to a lack of mechanisms to expedite claims and push for accountability.
  • Coverage—Most state programs have fixed end dates for benefits or monetary limitations, while the federal program does not have such limitations written into the law (though there are other ways to reduce or eliminate benefits).

Look to Aumiller Lomax for Help

Navigating federal workers’ compensation claims is complex, but having an experienced representative can greatly assist in the process. Here’s why you should choose a legal team like Aumiller Lomax to help with your claim:

  • In-Depth Knowledge—Our attorneys have years of experience navigating federal laws and regulations. We have a deep knowledge of workplace injuries and the claims process.
  • Evidence Collection—Evidence is a crucial part of building a strong claim. We’ll work with you to gather evidence through medical records and witness testimony, if necessary and/or appropriate.
  • Preparation and Filing—Though many clients come to us with claims already filed, we can assist clients in preparing and filing their workers’ compensation claims correctly, ensuring that all necessary documentation is completed accurately and submitted on time.
  • Understanding Appeals—Sometimes, a claim is not immediately accepted. In these cases, our lawyers can represent you during the appeals process and advocate for your rights.
  • Timely Communication—Do you have lots of questions about workers’ compensation? Our lawyers can address your concerns and provide timely communication throughout the process.

Contact Our Legal Team Today

Understanding the federal workers’ compensation claim process is no simple task. Fortunately, you don’t need to do your own comparative analysis of state and federal workers’ compensation programs! The team at Aumiller Lomax is here to reduce your stress and present your case in the best light. You deserve to fight for your rights and gain compensation whenever possible. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.