OWCP is knowingly destroying permanent injury files - An open letter to Acting Secretary Pizzella
Dear Acting Secretary Pizzella,
The federal government operates its own administrative process for federal employees workers compensation claims through the OWCP. There is NEVER a settlement in these claims and until a claimant is better or dies, they remain entitled to benefits due to OWCP’s refusal to settle claims.
It has come to my attention that OWCP is knowingly allowing the federal record center to destroy all of the OWCP paper files. Many FECA claimants who have suffered injuries over the years are now unable to claim benefits because instead of OWCP preserving the older paper files, OWCP is intentionally sending them to the federal record center with full knowledge that the FRC destroys files that are more than 15 years old. All paper files are now older than 15 years. And, unbelievably, OWCP is not advising claimants about this secret policy of sending files to the FRC to be destroyed.
I request that you require OWCP to immediately recall ALL remaining paper files from the FRC and take steps to ensure that no further paper files are destroyed.
In the last week I have spoken with several older federal employees with remote knee and hip injuries that had required surgery many years ago and now, after many years of being able to live with their conditions, they need joint replacement procedures, but are unable to get any further benefits as OWCP has intentionally allowed their files to be destroyed and tells the claimants that it is their problem.
Most claimants are unaware that OWCP stopped preserving files. Claimants receive no notice of this action and are not afforded any due process opportunity to secure a copy of their files before they are destroyed. These files are unable to be reconstructed as the medical providers do not preserve the files and most individuals do not appreciate the importance of maintaining their own records. Plus, the nature of how OWCP claims are managed means that many critical documents in a FECA claim file were never even sent to the claimant unless they specifically requested copies.
This is an emergency that must be dealt with. I urge you to issue an order to OWCP that they immediately direct that FRC cease all destruction of FECA claim files and set up a policy for maintaining these paper files.
Jeff Zeelander, Esquire
1521 Locust Street, Ninth Floor
Philadelphia PA 19102
T 215 545 2132
F 215 545 4617