AskEARN | Workers’ Compensation Skip to main content

Welcome to AskEARN’s new website. As we transition to our new site, you can still visit EARN’s previous site.

About EARN

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) offers information and resources to help employers recruit, hire, retain and advance people with disabilities; build inclusive workplace cultures; and meet diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) goals. 

Getting Started

Start here to learn how to recruit, hire, retain and advance people with disabilities; why workplace inclusion of people with disabilities matters; and how EARN’s resources can help.

A woman in a wheelchair addresses three colleagues around a small table

    Phases of Employment

  • A woman in a wheelchair shakes hands with a colleague


    Build a pipeline of talent that includes people with disabilities.

  • Two men work at repairing an engine.


    Identify people who have the skills and attributes for the job.

  • A woman with a disability wearing a helmet works in a factory


    Keep talented employees with disabilities, including those who acquire them on the job.

  • A man uses sign language to communicate.


    Ensure that employees with disabilities have equal opportunities for advancement.

Dinah Cohen Learning Center

EARN’s Learning Center offers a wide range of training resources, including self-paced online courses.

Woman using assistive technology on a computer workstation.

News & Events

EARN makes it easy to stay up-to-date on disability employment news and information. Start by subscribing to our monthly newsletter and eblasts, which will connect you to upcoming events, developing news and promising practices in the world of disability diversity and inclusion. And don’t forget to follow EARN on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

A smiling man with an earpiece sits in a wheelchair

Workers’ Compensation

Understand how workers' compensation programs support retention of your workforce. 

The vast majority of workers in the U.S. are covered by workers’ compensation programs, which replace some of the employee’s earnings when injured on the job and pay for their medical expenses related to the injury.

 The majority of workers’ compensation programs are enacted and administered by individual states, although there are also some specific, limited federal programs run by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP). Unlike temporary, partial or long-term disability benefits, workers’ compensation programs are intended to provide support for employees immediately upon injury. They may be applied to cover short-term or long-term absences from work.


Workers’ compensation wages may be paid by federal or state workers’ compensation agencies, employer funds or insurance companies on behalf of employers. The type of compensation programs available vary by state. These benefits are coordinated with Social Security payouts to ensure that benefits for workers eligible under both programs do not exceed 80% of prior earnings.

Other Disability Benefits

Workers’ compensation is intended to pay for medical care for work-related injuries immediately. Temporary disability benefits are usually distributed after a waiting period of three to seven days. Permanent partial and permanent total disability benefits are often paid as compensation to workers who have lasting consequences of disabilities caused by an injury or accident on the job.

Workers’ Compensation for Federal Employees

The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) provides benefits to civilian employees of the U.S. for injuries and illness sustained while in the performance of duty. Benefits available to injured federal employees include:

  • Medical treatment.
  • Continuation of pay.
  • Disability payments.
  • Vocational rehabilitation benefits.
  • Wage loss replacement.
  • Impairment awards.

FECA also provides compensation to dependents of a federal employee if the injury or disease resulted in the employee’s death. FECA is administered by the Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation (DFEC), which is part of OWCP.

Disability Compensation Payout

An employee who is disabled as a result of a workplace injury is entitled to wage loss compensation.

If the employee has no dependents, compensation is generally payable at the rate of two-thirds of pre-disability gross wages tax-free. If the employee has one or more dependents, compensation is payable at the rate of three-fourths of pre-disability gross wages, tax-free.

Loss of Wage Earning Capacity Payments and Schedule Awards for Permanent Impairment

FECA provides compensation benefits based on the loss of wage earning capacity that the employee suffers as a result of limitations imposed by the work injury. If the employee suffers permanent impairment, OWCP provides awards based on loss or loss of use of specified members, organs and functions of the body.


Return-to-work programs help reduce workers’ compensation costs and increase productivity by helping employees resume work sooner. A quick return to work allows employees to go back to 100% earnings and employers to retain a valued employee. This may involve providing accommodations for employees who have acquired disabilities.

An example of a return-to-work program is the provision of light duty, which may address the needs of some workers receiving benefits. The provision of light duty complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act and state workers’ compensation and other disability-related laws.

Workers Compensation and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The purpose of Title I of the ADA is to prohibit employers from discriminating against qualified individuals because of their disability in all aspects of employment. Workers’ compensation provides a system for securing prompt and fair settlement of employees’ claims against employers for occupational injury and illness.

The ADA prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their workers’ compensation history during the initial interview, but may do so after making a conditional offer of employment AND if such questions are asked of all employees entering in the same job category.

Likewise, employers must also be careful not to force a potential employee to disclose disability-related information. For more information, read Medical Inquiries and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance on how to manage workers' compensation information while protecting a potential employee's protections under the ADA.

Phases of Employment

Recruit Hire Retain Advance

Related Content

laws & regulations retention