Saturday, August 30, 2014

Old Cases, Not Recent Injuries, Are Driving Up USPS's Workers' Comp Costs

Most of the Postal Service's ballooning costs for workers' compensation result from injuries that are at least eight years old, according to a postal official.

"A majority of the workers’ compensation costs are attributed to employees who were injured prior to 2008," USPS spokesperson Darlene Casey wrote this week in a comment on Dead Tree Edition. She was responding to the article Are USPS Changes Leading to More Work-Related Injuries?, which suggested that recent changes in working conditions might have contributed to the agency's rapidly escalating workers' comp costs.

The Postal Service supports the recent Inspector General's report that describes why USPS workers' comp costs rose 35% from 2008 to 2013 despite a 19% decrease in the workforce, Ms. Casey said. Healthcare inflation has been a major factor, she added.

USPS also agrees with the IG's call for reforming the federal law that governs workers' comp at USPS.

The IG report showed that the number of new workers' comp claims per employee dropped drastically in 2009 but inched back up to 7 per 100 employees in 2013, the same rate as in 2008. No data have been released regarding changes in the type or severity of injuries.

Here is Ms. Casey's comment in its entirety:

The Postal Service appreciates the work of the Office of Inspector General (IG) highlighting the need to reform the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA). The IG report describes many factors which contribute to the increase in the Postal Service's workers' compensation costs, including injury rates associated with a more mature workforce, reduced light/limited duty positions attributed to automation, and cost of living adjustments.

The cost of living adjustments mentioned in the report do not refer to employees’ salary adjustments, but rather federally mandated cost of living adjustments provided to federal employees on the Department of Labor (DOL) Periodic Rolls. For the years 2008 – 2013 those increases were 4.3 percent, 0 percent, 3.4 percent, 1.7 percent, 3.2 percent, and 1.7 percent respectively, which when compounded equates to an increase of 15.1 percent over the base period.

The Postal Service also strongly believes that healthcare inflation is a major contributing factor to the cost increases. Our average medical cost per case has increased 43.4 percent since 2008 far greater than the compounded 21.3 percent reported adjusted medical care cost increase reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In comparison, the average compensation cost per case has increased 24.2 percent in the same time period.

We must reiterate the findings of the IG that these increases in expenses occurred during a time when claims filed with the DOL were less than the 2008 level; and a majority of the workers’ compensation costs are attributed to employees who were injured prior to 2008.

The IG has aggressively gone after fraud, having saved the Postal Service more than $289 million from future losses, and nearly $52 million in medical and disability judgments associated with fraudulent claims.

We agree with the IG's call for reforms to FECA and we will continue to work with Congress on reforms that will return the Postal Service to profitability.


@dryMAILman said...

I'm trying to imagine a USPS spokesperson delivering 800 lbs. of FSS in the dark. The jump in workers' comp is due to lack of stress testing.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Casey neglected to mention the NRP program. The Postal Service pushed people onto the OWCP rolls instead of providing work for injured employees. Now, the Workers Comp expenses are an issue. If the Postal Service was not in violation of the Rehabilitation Act, this would not be an issue. There have been thousands of employees that have medical restrictions related to an on the job injury. The Postal Service has made a conscious decision to not provide work for those employees and now they want to complain about it.

What does Ms. Casey have to say about that?

Anonymous said...

The vast majority on comp are total frauds. Those on comp should receive a minmum wage and food stamps and be made to report to do 8-10 hours per day of volunteer work. Most of our "injured" are lazy scam artists.

Anonymous said...

So, Mr. Anonymous, where can we read the details of your research? You must have investigated tens of thousands of injured postal workers and other witnesses in order to come to your sweeping conclusion! For some reason, though, I can't locate any of your work online! Where did you publish??

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: I agree with your 1st statement. The USPS should consider providing accommodations for their injured worker. Some injured workers sit at home and collect benefits for years. Simply find work for them and you can reduce the cost.

I'm guessing the USPS plan is to drive up the cost and then complain to congress and pressure them to change the FECA laws. I think management has to create a crisis in order to get action. The USPS deficit and worker comp increase is all a sham. Your 2nd comment is incorrect. Even the OIG and the USPS admits that fraud in the worker's comp cases is very low

Anonymous said...

The Postal Service pushed injured people on to OWCP by not giving them suitable work, now they want to complain about the cost!!!

Anonymous said...

I am sure that some of the OWCP cases are fraudulent or at best a "milking" of the system. I have to say though, at my office, we could use 3 or 4 limited duty personnel to assist supervisors in just performing everyday tasks, such as helping at the dutch door,ANSWERING THE PHONE,helping customers in our lobby, providing general assistance to our entire staff. Our office is an extremely high traffic high volume location. Carriers routinely go to the street with 30ft of mail, 50-70 parcels along with 40-60 spr's.

Unknown said...

Really! Why you must be quite new at this job. You have no clue but you remember your stupid remark when you get injured. By the way i've been here 27 years. It takes a toll on your body. I hurt all the time and have had numerous accidents. Im still out there doing my job and in pain. So really your opinion is not wanted cause you know absolutely nothing.

ET-10 Simmons said...

D.T.E. Just another shill for USPS Corporate. "We agree with the IG's call for reforms to FECA and we will continue to work with Congress on reforms that will return the Postal Service to profitability."

Translation: We agree with any reforms which mean we pay even less of our fair share at the expense of the career benefits of postal craft employees.

As for Ms. Casey:

She's Corporate Communications, Public Relations, a.k.a. - desk jockey, and has never actually worked a single piece of mail in her life. Need I say more.

Anonymous said...

Got NRPed, PO would not accept my medical restrictions. Went thru OWCP vocational training program. Have a limited duty type of job, have no problem working. On this labor day I wish all you assholes that have no clue to get seriously injured. Then you might understand.

Anonymous said...

I am out 8wks with an on the job injury and my duty status report says I can basically a desk job. Id jump at the chance to help do the office work: answering telephones doing reports etc. I did this when I got hurt 7 years ago. But I was told we don't do that anymore. We have a fill in supervisor who could really use some assistance.

Unknown said...

The NRP was and is the back breaking
plan the agency put in place to complain about. USPS is the only business to spend over 400K fighting their own hired employees. Some smarts it must take to figure how to do that and be successful in business.
Then an injure happens and the fight starts over. Many injured employees has lost homes, cars, families and numerous other catastrophes during a period of rehabing wit very little help. Also, your check comes seldom and then thats if your examiner has a good day. Oh, I forgot to mention reposessed and eviction to boot.

Beleg said...

It got to the point at my office where most of the low level admin jobs were being taken up by injured on duty employees. These employees come to work dressed to the nines while their fellow workers are on the workroom floor carrying their load. It isn’t right. To work the system, all that’s needed is to come up with a soft tissue injury and claim it as an on the job injury. Get a less than ethical doctor and OWCP to sign off on it and presto, you have a cushy office job sitting behind a desk. That wasn’t what the Postal Service hired these people to do, just employees working the system while screwing their coworkers. NRP thinned out the ranks to some extent. If you can’t do the job you were hired to do then move on to other suitable employment. That’s what NRP was all about; vocational retraining for work the injured employee is capable of performing. It doesn’t matter if your injury is legit or not. If you can’t do the job, or at least a significant part of the job, move on to something you can do, outside the Postal Service.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, what you are suggesting is illegal and violates the Rehabilitation Act. The Postal Service and OIG both acknowledge that the number of fraud cases is minimal. I sincerely doubt that a physician would risk his medical license and a possible prison sentence in order to assist someone with a fraudulent OWCP claim.

If you have knowledge that a person is committing fraud while collecting FECA benefits and faking an injury, you have an OBLIGATION to inform the OIG of this so the OIG office can do their job. General accusations that people are 'faking it' in order to get out of work don't cut it.

As for vocational rehabilitation, the Federal system is a joke. Training is minimal at best if it even exists.

Be careful what you wish for. A slip, trip or fall could end your career in the blink of an eye.

Anonymous said...

My guess is that Ms. Casey isn't coming back to bless us with more of her brilliance.

BostonInjuryMA said...

That's quite the interesting statistic there. I wonder what can accurately explain why there's such a larger disparity in disabilities from 2008 as opposed to those in later years. Did the recession have anything to do with this and how much people reported?