Longshore/Defense Base Act

The United States Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Program administers claims under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Act.

Longshore/Defense Base Act FAQ’s: 1-20 | 21-40 | 41-61 | 62-80 | 81-95

4) Longshore/Defense Base Act FAQ’s: 62-80.


62. What is vocational rehabilitation?
Vocational rehabilitation is the process that helps a permanently disabled employee to return to gainful employment as quickly as possible in a job with pay at or near the wages at the time of injury. Vocational services may include vocational assessment and skills testing, counseling, job development, modification of the previous job, limited training when required, and job placement assistance.

63.Who is eligible to receive vocational rehabilitation services?
If a work injury prevents an employee from returning to his/her pre-injury employment, he/she may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services. The OWCP must determine whether the employee is permanently disabled and whether vocational rehabilitation is appropriate. The OWCP may begin considering whether vocational rehabilitation is appropriate when the medical record shows that the employee is likely to have some degree of permanent disability.

64. Who pays for vocational rehabilitation services?
Services are provided by the OWCP out of the Special Fund at no cost to employees. The employer or insurance carrier may also pay for vocational rehabilitation services in individual cases, although they are not required to do so under the law.

65.How do I obtain vocational rehabilitation services?
You, your attorney, the employer, or insurance company may request that the OWCP district office evaluate you for vocational rehabilitation services as soon as your doctor determines that you will be unable to return to your previous job and that you are medically able to participate in vocational rehabilitation activities. You may ask for services by contacting the district office where your claim is administrated. A complete list of the contact information for the district offices can be found at: http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dlhwc/lscontactmap.htm.

66. Is vocational rehabilitation mandatory?
No, participation in vocational rehabilitation services is entirely voluntary. However, if you decide not to take advantage of these free services, the employer or insurance company may ask that you be evaluated by a vocational rehabilitation counselor to determine if there are jobs in the open labor market that you can perform. Your compensation may be reduced on the basis of this evaluation.


67. How do I support myself and my family if I pursue vocational rehabilitation?
If you are accepted into an OWCP-sponsored vocational rehabilitation program, you may be entitled to receive total disability compensation for the duration of the rehabilitation program if your full participation in the program prevents you from working full-time or part-time.


68. Why can’t the OWCP staff give me legal advice about my claim?
The OWCP cannot provide legal assistance or advice to the public regarding individual claims. OWCP staff members are not attorneys and are not qualified to give legal advice or to answer questions which involve interpretation of the law or the regulations. District office staff will explain benefits and claims procedures under the LHWCA, provide general information about medical and vocational rehabilitation services, and assist claimants to file claims.

69. How do I find an attorney to handle my claim? Will you appoint an attorney for me?
The OWCP cannot appoint an attorney to represent you or refer you to one. You may obtain a lawyer referral from a Lawyer Referral Service ("LRS") program or your local State Bar Association office which maintains a list of local attorneys who handle Longshore claims. The American Bar Association maintains a list of LRS contacts.

70. Who is responsible for my attorney’s fees?
If the employer or insurance company has denied any portion of your claim and you subsequently obtain greater benefits with the assistance of an attorney, the employer or insurance company may be responsible for paying your attorney's fees and costs. In some circumstances, you may be responsible to pay the attorney fees and costs yourself. If the attorney is not successful in winning greater benefits, no fees or costs will be assessed against the employer or insurance company. An attorney may not collect a fee unless that fee is approved by the OWCP, the Office of Administrative Law Judges, or the courts.

71. The attorney I selected wants an advance payment and a percentage of any settlement - is this proper?
Under the LHWCA, an attorney may not collect a retainer fee or receive a contingent fee (a percentage of your award) for representing you in your claim. All requests for attorney fees must be submitted to the OWCP or to the courts for approval. Fees must be reasonable in relation to the prevailing rates in the attorney's local area, the time spent on your case, the experience of the attorney, the quality and complexity of the work performed, and the amount of benefits awarded.

72. I want to settle my case. Do I have to get an attorney?
While consulting with an attorney may be advisable, you are not required to do so. You may negotiate a settlement directly with the insurance carrier's claims adjuster. The OWCP cannot advise or assist you in settling your claim. Rather, the District Director or the Administrative Law Judge is required by law to evaluate all settlement applications for adequacy, i.e., whether the amount of the settlement is adequate to compensate you for your disability and future medical needs.

73. Once I settle my case, how long does it take to receive my settlement?
When you settle your claim, the signed settlement agreement must be submitted to the DOL for approval. The District Director or the Administrative Law Judge will approve or deny the settlement within 30 days of receipt of the settlement agreement. The employer or insurance company must pay the lump sum settlement within ten (10) days of the Order Approving Settlement.


74. Does the Department of Labor regulate insurance premium rates?
The DOL has no authority to regulate insurance premium rates. All authorized carriers are regulated by the insurance commissioners in the states in which they operate.

75. How does my company become an authorized Longshore Insurance Carrier or Self-Insured Employer?
The OWCP is responsible for the authorization of insurance carriers and self-insured employers. Each employer or insurance carrier must be separately authorized for each Act administered by this office. The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 20, Part 703, contains detailed information on how to apply for authorization, and can be found at Title 20 Part 703.

76. What is an employer or insurance carrier required to do in order to remain authorized?
Authorized self-insured employers and insurance carriers are required to maintain security deposits and submit various financial reports as specified by the OWCP. The Code of Federal Regulations, Title 20, Part 703 contains detailed information on the requirements for continuing authorization and can be found at: Title 20 Part 703.

77. How do I contact the OWCP regarding insurance authorization and compliance with insurance regulations?
All insurance-related matters are handled by the DLHWC National Office, Branch of Financial Management, Insurance and Assessment, located in Washington, DC. Address inquiries to the address shown at: http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dlhwc/lscontac.htm.


78. How can I find out whether my business should be covered under the Longshore Act or its extensions?
Longshore insurance coverage can be a complex legal question that depends on the nature and location of the work to be performed. The Longshore district office staff may provide general information and guidance regarding the types of work covered by the LHWCA, but their recommendation does not constitute legal advice or a formal adjudication of this issue.

79. I am a self-employed maritime worker. Do I have to buy Longshore insurance coverage for myself?
The OWCP recommends that all coverage questions be discussed with an experienced maritime insurance broker or attorney in order to evaluate any potential liability under the Longshore Act. The LHWCA requires that maritime employers, including sole proprietors who are employees of their own company, obtain insurance for all employees; officers of a corporation are not exempt from LHWCA coverage.

80. Can I get reimbursed for the cost of transportation to medical appointments and, if so, how much?
You must secure payment of compensation through the purchase of insurance or by obtaining authorization from the OWCP to be self-insured.

  1. You must post an up-to-date Form LS-241 (if you are insured by a carrier) or LS-242 (if you are permissibly self-insured) at each place where you conduct business. The form should include the name and address of the insurance carrier, the policy number, the person you have designated to receive the employees' notices of injury, and the address of the Longshore district office where notices of injury and claims should be filed. (See FAQ #14.)
  2. You should notify your insurance carrier promptly of all work-related injuries.
  3. You should authorize medical care upon request from the injured worker.
  4. You must submit the Form LS-202, Employer's First Report of Injury, to the OWCP within 10 days of your knowledge of any injury which causes loss of one or more shifts.

Next List of Longshore/Defense Base Act FAQ’s: 1-20 | 21-40 | 41-61 | 62-80 | 81-95

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