Sen. Collins tries to curb workers' comp abuses

Thursday - 2/3/2011, 4:11pm EST

By John Buckner
Federal News Radio

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced legislation Wednesday to limit the abuses of the federal workers' compensation system.

More than 2,000 Postal Service employees over the age of 70 have been receiving workers' compensation benefits after retiring. The Postal Service also has nearly 1,000 recipients over the age of 80 and 132 over the age of 90. Three of them are 98 years old.

In all, 49,000 federal employees receive workers' compensation. The Federal Employment Compensation Act (FECA) provides monthly aid to federal employees who are injured, pending their return to work. From July 2009 to June 2010, the government paid these employees $2.78 billion, $1.1 million of it going to the Postal Service employees.

Collins said the "abuse may extend across the government" and her legislation, S. 261, would "convert retirement eligible postal and federal employees on workers' compensation to retirement when they reach retirement age."

"If recipients are gaming this crucial benefit at taxpayers' expense, they must be exposed and the underlying program must be reformed," said Collins in a release.

Collins said the reason these problems are possible is because FECA lacks "time limits or caps on payments enabling a retirement income 27 percent higher than what feds receive under the Civil Service Retirement Act."

John Buckner is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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