Over 4,000 federal employees say they contracted the coronavirus while on the job, and are seeking disability benefits as a result. Survivors of another 60 federal workers who died from COVID-19 are also seeking death benefits under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act.
Another 2,000 applications for benefits are expected by next week.
The information comes from a report from the Labor Department’s inspector general office, which is one of the first reports to provide an account on the impact of the pandemic on the federal employees.
A total of 2.1 million employees are covered under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, with another 630,000 employees also falling under its umbrella as part of the U.S. Postal Service, The Washington Post reported.
As part of the federal government’s pandemic response under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, law enforcement, first responders, and front-line medical and public healthcare workers were deemed high-risk for contracting the virus while on the job.
For these federal positions, the program determined that it would “accept that the exposure to COVID-19 was proximately caused by the nature of the employment and will only require medical evidence that establishes a diagnosis of COVID-19, such as a positive COVID-19 test result,” the report said. Other federal jobs under the act, would need to show that the coronavirus was employment-related, the report said.
Employees who worked in Homeland Security, Justice, and Veterans Affairs accounted for the majority of the claims, which the report indicated that a total of 2,866 COVID-19 claims were received as of June 16. The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act paid out $30,000 in medical benefits and compensation for these claims up until that date.
The report also indicated that benefits claims are expected to increase to 6,000 by Aug. 4 as coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country.
The U.S. has reported over 4.2 million positive cases of the coronavirus and over 146,900 COVID-19 deaths, Johns Hopkins University said.