Fedweek

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The Labor Department has set policies on eligibility for injury compensation benefits for federal employees reinfected with the Coronavirus at work, including standards for certifying that it has occurred and for determining whether it is the basis for a new claim for benefits.

“Reinfection occurs when a person was infected with COVID-19, recovers and then becomes infected with COVID-19 again . . . Current research supports COVID-19 reinfection (or the onset of a new COVID-19 virus) can occur as early as 90 days following the initial infection,” says a notice from the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act program.

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An infection “will be considered a new injury when the employee tests positive for COVID-19 90 days or more from the date of the employee’s previous positive COVID-19 test. The 90 days is from the date the initial COVID-19 test is performed to the date the current COVID-19 test is performed. A claim based on a positive COVID-19 test which is performed fewer than 90 days after the initial positive COVID-19 test was performed will be combined with the existing claim and developed as necessary as a consequential or recurrence claim,” it says.

Under previously established policy, an infection can be confirmed by either a Polymerase Chain Reaction or Antigen test; an antibody test along with medical evidence of symptoms; or a physician’s diagnosis including explanations of the diagnosis and why a positive test result is not available.

The new policy also addresses the growth in home testing since those standards were set, saying that self-administered testing “is insufficient to establish a diagnosis of COVID-19 under the FECA. This is because there is no way for FECA claims staff to affirmatively establish (1) the date and time the sample was collected and (2) that the sample collected is that of the injured federal employee making the claim.”

“The only exception to this policy is where the administration of the self-test is monitored by a medical professional and the results are verified through documentation submitted by such professional,” it adds.

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2022 Federal Employees Handbook