History of the OWCP Federal Workers’ Compensation Program

The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) oversees the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA), which provides workers’ compensation benefits to federal employees for work-related injuries or illnesses.

Here’s a timeline of the key events in the history of the OWCP federal workers’ compensation program:

  • 1908: President Theodore Roosevelt signs legislation to provide limited workers’ compensation for certain federal employees in hazardous jobs. This act marks the first federal workers’ compensation law in the US.
  • 1916: The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) is passed, superseding the 1908 statute. FECA provides broader coverage and benefits for all civilian federal employees.
  • 1946: The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act is amended to include coverage for occupational diseases.
  • 1972: The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act amendments expand coverage to federal employees injured overseas while working for the government.
  • 1980: The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act is passed, providing compensation to nuclear weapons workers who develop certain illnesses due to radiation exposure.
  • 1981: The Coal Mine Workers’ Compensation Act is amended to expand benefits for miners diagnosed with black lung disease.
  • 2009: The Employment Standards Administration (ESA) is abolished, and OWCP becomes a stand-alone program reporting directly to the Secretary of Labor.
  • 2014: The Fairness for Federal Firefighters Act is passed, streamlining claims processing for federal firefighters with certain occupational diseases.
  • 2019: OWCP implements new policies to combat the opioid crisis, including limiting initial opioid prescriptions for injured federal workers.

OWCP continues to administer four major disability compensation programs:

The OWCP has evolved significantly since its inception, adapting to changing circumstances and expanding coverage to more workers. Today, the program plays a vital role in protecting the health and financial security of federal employees and their families.

Additional Resources: