This is a quick blog concerning Federal Workers’ Compensation Overpayment.
The problem is securing a lawyer to aid you in litigating the overpayment. Unless you are already my client, I am simply reluctant to become involved in an overpayment matter. The reason is that the litigation requires a substantial fee. I do not like to charge where there is not going to be any money in my client’s pocket. The overpayment, by definition, means that money was received and probably spent. The overpayments are usually substantial, therefore, where is the claimant going to obtain the money to pay legal fees? Even where the overpayment was not the claimant’s fault, OWCP will not usually waive payment. If the client is so destitute that he or she cannot pay back the overpayment, then how are they going to pay an attorney fee?
However, I have found some success in litigating overpayment matters. The following are some suggestions:
1. If the amount is modest, I recommend that the claimant offer a reasonable monthly repayment plan to OWCP. Most claims examiners are reasonable in structuring a repayment plan.
2. Always complete the CA-20 proof of income and expenses. Tell the truth. Spend the time necessary to obtain the evidence. Have someone who is not intimately involved in the problem help you gather the information requested. Tell the truth. Try not to feel that the CE and the Government are out to get you. The Law is getting you – not OWCP and the CE.
3. I have been successful with overpayments generated by schedule awards. The Biden administration, through Mr. Godfrey, have made some meaningful changes.
4. I have come up with a new idea that seems to work in some jurisdictions. I recommend that the overpayment be discharged in bankruptcy. In an OWCP case for a client living in Texas, I had a $425,000 overpayment discharged. I settled an Alaska OWCP case involving an overpayment in excess of $150,000 for $9,000. Not every jurisdiction may accept the bankruptcy filing; and success in one case does not guarantee success in another case. However, the filing of the bankruptcy claim certainly gives the claimant a strong argument for settlement. A claimant should discuss the matter with a very knowledgeable attorney specializing in debtor-creditor matters.