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Postal Service: OIG Workers Compensation Fraud Campaign

OIG Workers Compensation ‘Fraud’ Campaign

Who’s scamming who?

The USPS Office of Inspector General recently launched a “Workers’ Compensation Fraud Campaign.” In typical OIG fashion, one of its strategies involves demonizing injured workers by having an actor posing as a postal employee cheerfully brag about cheating the Workers’ Comp program.

No one, of course, should be permitted to cheat the injury-compensation system. The system exists to provide benefits to employees who have sustained legitimate injuries while on duty. But OIG ignores the fact that less than 0.3 percent of the tens of thousands of Postal Service employees who get hurt while on the job are ever found guilty of defrauding the system. In fact, OIG’s most recent semi-annual report acknowledges that they had arrested only 18 people for claimant fraud. It’s simply unwarranted and unacceptable for the OIG to create a national campaign that smears injured workers by implying that so many are trying to scam the system.

One has to wonder whether it’s the OIG itself that is guilty of scamming the USPS . In Fiscal Year 2009, the OIG was appropriated $239.3 million in Postal Service funds from which, at its own admission, OIG “commits significant resources toward identifying claimants who defraud the system.”With well over 99 percent of the injured workforce proving to be honest and lawful regarding Workers’ Comp, how can OIG — an agency that is also responsible for combating waste and abuse — be exonerated from the very obligations it is commissioned to uphold?

Protect Yourself

Workers’ compensation fraud is a serious crime. Admission of guilt and actually being found guilty are one and the same: Offenders are branded as criminals.

Upon conviction, offenders are subject to repayment of benefits, fines, jail time in a federal facility, and removal. All too often, it is a simple lack of understanding as to what constitutes fraud that can place an employee in peril. So, as the OIG presses on in its campaign against injured workers, it is important to remember that the medical restrictions that apply at work also apply during personal life, i.e., at home, while shopping, driving, taking care of personal and family matters, and during recreational activities. The rule of thumb is that if you can’t do it at work, you can’t do it anywhere.

It is also important to remind employees to work within their restrictions. If physical capabilities have improved or worsened, employees should get their doctors to document the change in restrictions. Additionally, doctors who permit activities for therapeutic reasons should also include this information — along with the treatment rationale — in the employee’s medical record.

Disclosure and Your Rights

Treating physicians should be made aware that they are not required to disclose any information regarding a medical condition to OIG agents unless there is a court order requiring such disclosure.

If confronted by OIG agents, it is important for employees to know their rights. Many agents are on a mission to prove their worth, and they can be conniving. Employees are entitled to have a representative present and should remain silent until they have consulted with their steward or legal counsel — even when they are certain they aren’t guilty of any wrongdoing.

During investigatory interviews, union representatives may attempt to clarify facts and information, ask the purpose of an interview, or help an employee articulate a response or explanation.

When there are legal issues that need to be addressed, and/or an employee is the subject of a criminal investigation, it is absolutely appropriate for the employee to remain silent and to decline to sign any statements or fill out any forms until after legal counsel has been consulted.

APWU Industrial Relations Director Greg Bell has written two very informative articles detailing the rights of employees when they are confronted by Postal Inspectors or OIG agents. The articles first appeared in the Nov./Dec.2005 and May/June 2006 issues of this magazine and can be found in their entirety on the Industrial Relations Web pages.

Source: APWU

16 Responses to Postal Service: OIG Workers Compensation Fraud Campaign

  1. bill

    December 31, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    That is how the PO spends money. How about those flat sorting machines. I bet they are going to save money there?

  2. curly

    January 1, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    i think the postal service is trying to warn the employees who are being excessed to be honest and not fake an injury so they won’t have to be excessed..the ad wants employees to tell on the faking injuried co-worker. this is such a crock. i do not think an employee will tell an other employee that they are faking an injury.

  3. Kevin

    January 1, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    The OIG and the Postal Service do everything they can to promote hate for those injured on the job. That helps to keep workers with legitamate claims from filling out a claim. It also makes injured workers get unfair treatment at work by both bosses and fellow workers. Too bad the injured workers can’t file a class action lawsuit against the OIG and the Postal Service. Injured workers suffer every hour of every day, not just the 8 hours at work.

  4. ACE

    January 6, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Let’s consider the employee’s injured for years & years while the people with dignity carry the load day in and day out. No doubt, people can be injured at work. However, for how long ? Professional athletes return after surgurys, why not some of our people ? Wake up ! no more fat in our orginazation. If it were your business would you like paying some of these claims and medical cost, while someone is sitting around answering your business phone. We need people to work safe and do what they were hired to do. Ask the 10-12% unemployed people across the country their opinion?????

  5. fed up

    January 11, 2010 at 10:57 am

    those athletes are not denied coverage like owcp does. they also get full pay which is a hell of a lot more than i make. they don’t have to wait months to be paid.i am injured and going through a 3rd operation because i was doing my job. i do answer the phone because my bosses think that job is beneath them. my post master said answering the phone is not productive. if i don’t answer it who will, they don’t, when they do all they do is bitch.

  6. Kevin

    January 13, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Ace, have you not heard of an athlete retiring due to injury? It happens all the time. They get paid big bucks while they play partly because of that chance. The Post Office cut over 2 hours off of my route after I got hurt. They knew it was too heavy. I’ve had surgery, but I will spend the rest of my life in pain. I worked hard and I did my best to work safe. I have a permanent injury. I finished out my career on limited duty. Thanks to the OIG’s and the Post Office campain to make everyone think that everyone that is injured is some kind of thief, it’s not so great being a “rehab”. Do some real work Ace and see how your dignity is when you have to ask your wife to lift anything heavy. We are not hurt because you were carrying the load. Apparantly we were. And we are hurt 24/7 not just the 8 hours at work.

  7. ACE

    January 13, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Fed up & Kevin

    Maybe your injuries are what you say……….However, Ive seen it all in New England………..Dr. Winteroff right after collecting those X-mas tips. Healthy when the golf season rolls around. Why the need for OIG investigations, there you go. Worry not about being investigated if you are truely injured. The golden goose is running out of eggs…………..

  8. GOP

    January 17, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Let’s get back to the no work-no pay theory This country was not founded by a bunch of wimpy people that thought of excuses why they couldn’t work. For the few that are NOT trying to scam the system you can blame the ones that are. You’d be amazed at what people can do if they HAVE TO! Same as the lazy bums that sit on their butt all winter and collecting unemployment when they COULD be working. It’s time for this PATHETIC socialism to END!!

  9. Disgruntled

    February 11, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    GOP and ACE, I’m sure you two would not have a problem with not being paid if you got injured no matter how long you were out, right? You talk about all the whiners and complainers. Pay attention and stop grand standing!! Did you read this sentence:

    “But OIG ignores the fact that less than 0.3 percent of the tens of thousands of Postal Service employees who get hurt while on the job are ever found guilty of defrauding the system.

    Oh that’s right, it doesn’t fit in with your right-wing, conservative, anti-worker, Palinesque philosphy. People like YOU are ruining this country with your selfish, greedy, I got mine, screw everyone else attitudes. You probably call yourself a Christian because you go to church on Sunday. Maybe you need to remember to have a Christian attitude all week. Compassion and sympathy are not socialist ideals, no matter what the Anti-Obama fascists say. I don’t know who you are, but I’d guess your both just a couple of lard asses sitting behind desks with nothing better to do than insult and belittle people who sacrificed their health to keep a poorly managed company running. Do I sound angry? you bet I am. I’ve seen good people made to suffer at the hands of the OIG and management because they had the nerve to get injured at work, and I’m sick and tired of people like you putting them down.

  10. Gayle

    February 12, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    It is unfair that those with legitimate claims cannot sue the post office and the superiors that made life hell for them. What I wonder can be done when you are fired for them lying and looking for any reason to fire you just because you were hurt, Nothing is be done when you cannot find a doctor to treat you because of omitted info so that your acceptable claim will only cover what they indicate. You get the run around and seems there is no one to help you so they get away with wronging honest individuals that have a valid claim and left to suffer physically with no help. I have little regard for the honesty for the post office and the governing agency that is suppose to protect your rights. There is nothing you can do but wait and hope some day that something will be done. You are treated badly and like you have betrayed the post office if you don’t work injured.

  11. sharon

    February 13, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Our gov. seem to be the biggest abusers of the system, American with Diaability Act.(ADA) There is not a private co. that could exist in this country if they treated their employee’s like the gov does after an injury. Injured workers are intitled to reasonable accomadation. If our gov agencys would work together and combine agency vacent jobs . This would alimate anyone from sitting around doing nothing.This would do wonders, keeping fraud down. How ever, as a federal injured worker myself, I find managment unwilling to even engage in finding reasonable work . I have begged for work for years., they refuse any ideas I come up with. The gov. agencys are by LAW suppose to provide accomadtion. Title 7 of the ADA, check it out! How dishonest of our goverment, pressuring workers into filing claims with their private insurance co. Making all of us bare the finincal burden of higher insurance premiums. Why not do away with work comp?

  12. Sande

    February 23, 2010 at 7:34 am

    I like the idea of a class action against the OIG and DOL, I was severly injured in 2006. The action of the original injury resulted in a chronic disease. I went to 5 orthepdists, 2 Nuerologists and a few other Dr.’s. The DOL would not raise my levels of disability even though I had MRI’s and EMG’s to prove the progressive nature. My Neurologist wrote a ten page report stateing this was going to happen and the injury was definetly due to the original accident at work. I live in the USVI, we have no good Dr’s here. I have to fly to the states at my own expense just to get MRI’s and other tests done. Luckilly I finally got my SSD and OPM Disability retirement. I took the PO a year after I got my SSD to finalize my retirement. The DOL said they would not pay for any of medical last year. I now have Medicare and my Federal coverage. This year long delay has cost me in Pain. I am suing the Postal Service for 5 different labor violations and my injury. Who said you can’t sue the gov. It takes a long time but it can be done, I would like to get a bunch empoyees that this type of thing has happened to and file class actions. We will need a good labor attorney if anyone knows one.

  13. Eric Wattree

    May 28, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    GOP,

    You conservatives love to take these lofty stands until you have to apply them to your own lives. If you were injured on the job you’d be screaming for “Your American right to be treated fairly” (conservispeak for compensated) louder than anyone.

    Hypocrisy just seems to be a part of the conservative psyche – you know, like ‘drill, baby, drill'; but now that there’s a disaster it’s the president’s fault because he can’t come up with a magic solution to cleanup your mess.

    Then there’s also that Superconservative who moved Hell and Earth to avoid putting his life on the line for this country, but now wants to lecture Americans on our military responsibilities. What’s his name? That hard fightin’ commando, Dick Cheney.

    With all of the problems that you conservatives have caused this country, you should have to pay a fee every time you open your mouths.

  14. sharon

    August 8, 2010 at 8:50 am

    To all those who have been abused over and over by the gov. Just because you were injured at work, SEE glover/albrecht v. us postal service. You to can sue the gov. it just takes time.

  15. Tim

    November 18, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    I have read a majority of the statements left here aswell.I can relate much to what alot of you are complaining about also.Seeming as if the Postal Service Management athority has no bounds.Expecting injured employess to give 110 percent of their blood,sweat and tears to an organization whom’s check stub PLAINLY states OUR WAGES Are paid to US by OUR CUSTOMERS.
    I think managers believe that just because we punch a time clock and they are on Salary we should not have any Rights to file any paper work whatsoever.WHAT IS A 3849 FOR? AMUSEMENT obviously.THEY do not have a GOOD UNION.An office is only as Good as the LOCAL AGREEMENT signed by all PARTIES.

  16. Tim

    November 18, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Let US also speak of their retirement Insurance PROGRAM.lol.and their PRIVACTY ACTS HIPPA laws .GOOD OLE,OLE POSTAL SERVICE.USHERING everybody around with THeir HAPPY FEET and TROLLING around TOWN like THEY OWN IT SO FLAUNT IT.lol

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