Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 6, 1976 · Page 28
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June 6, 1976

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 28

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, June 6, 1976
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Page 28
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12B -June 6. 1976 Sunday Gazette-Mail -Charleston, Atsl Virginia Abuses in Compensation Program Cited By Jeffrey Mills WASHINGTON ( A P ) - Federal em- ployes can fake injuries and often get the government to pay their full salary for a "recuperation" period of up to 45 days, officials say. The federal officials, in a series of separate interviews, reported these abuses in the government's injury compensation program: »· Workers being paid full salary while allegedly recuperating from an i n j u r y have played in vigorous athletic competitions. The recuperation time for workers across the country coincides strikingly with the 45-day period for full pay. ··, Many workers who were notified that /they were being terminated have then re' ported an injury. They have collected full ·pay long after their job was scheduled to "end. '/··.^Reports of abuses are causing Congress ·ftr take another look at the liberalizations 'of.the program it voted in 1974. '· JRep. Floyd, V. Hicks, D-Wash., chairman of a government operations subcom- ". mittee, has scheduled hearings on the pro; gram beginning Wednesday. Hicks said the subcommittee staff has -been told of "an alarming rise in the cost of compensating federal employes for on- the-job accidents." Rep. Ed Derwinski of Illinois said he wants the Post Office Committee, in which he is the ranking Republican, to look into the program. He said he has received reports that a growing number of postal employes appear to be abusing the program. Under 1974 amendments to the act, an employe who can obtain his doctor's certification of a work-related injury can collect full pay for up to 45 days. All medical bills also are paid by the government. After 45 days the employe is paid two- thirds of his salary if he has no dependents and three-quarters if he has at least one dependent. The Labor Department approves the claims but each federal agency must pay for the costs of its own injured employes. And the Labor Department says it does not have enough funds to conduct thorough investigations of dubious claims. The officials interviewed said the potential abuses are of three types: faked injuries, claims that off-duty injuries came on the job, and continued payments after the employe is able to return to work. The Postal Service, already plagued by a chronic deficit, appears to be the agency hardest hit by the spiraling costs of the injury compensation program. The mail agency's liabilities under the program have more than tripled in the last two years. The figure stood at $197 million two years ago and now is S618 million. The number of injury claims for postal workers went from 26,684 in fiscal 1973 to 65,408 in fiscal 1975. Postal officials say that one of the biggest weaknesses in the compensation law is a provision allowing an injured federal employe to go to a doctor of his choice. "It used to be that we could send him to our own medical unit or the Public Health Service or the Veterans Administration. Now he goes to his family doctor and that has the effect of lengthening the duration of the disability." said Oliver Corona, manager of i n j u r y compensation programs for the Postal Service. Family doctors are fearful of sending their patients back to work because of the possibility of a malpractice suit, Corona said. Arnold Daitsch, Postal Service district safety officer in Atlanta, said, "Some doctors know they will get all their bills paid by Uncle Sam if they say the patient is injured. So they can order all the therapy and treatment they want and the govern- ment pays for it all. "Employes can fake an injury and get away with it. They figure that if the government is willing to give them money, why not take it." Daitsch said. Jimmie Kirby. Postal Service district safety officer in Chicago, expressed the opinion that at least 40 per cent of the claims that are paid are false. One leader of a union representing federal workers, James Rademacher of the National Association of Letter Carriers, said he would have no objection to examinations by the Labor Department instead of the employe's own doctor. "I'm not saying every case is legitimate. I'm not a doctor," Rademacher said. KENNEY'S Prescription Pharmacy ; 14 Lee St. Phone 342-4178 MYADEC VITAMINS CAPSULES or TABLETS - 100-r30FRK OUR EVERYDAY $/l 99 LOW PRICE 1 WHY THE FINEST NAME USE THE FINEST NAME · · ·-·· · · · · · · tJicdi!l(!it;nccis TREVIRA *·* Charleston Store Ph.:925-4931 4218MacCprkleAve., KanawhaCity Open: Mon., Thurs., Fri. 9A.M.-9P.M. Tues., Wed., Sat. 9 A.M.-5 P.M. St. Albans Store Ph.: 727-2948 St. Albans Plaza Open: Mon. thru Fri. 1(5:00 A.M.-9 P.M. Sat. 10-5 Sun. 1-6 Dunbar Store Ph.:768-8895 Dunbar Village Plaza Open: Mon. thru Fri. 10:OOA.M.-9P.M. 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