Appeal of Decision Terminating Compensation for a Refusal to Accept a Job Offer and Return to Work: A.G.

This claimant was receiving disability compensation benefits from OWCP for an extended period of time. She was provided with a job offer by the employing agency. The Senior Claims Examiner wrote to the claimant, advising her that the job had been found to be suitable and appropriate for her and available. She was provided with a letter which informed her that she had 30 days within which to either accept the job offer without penalty or provide reasons for her rejection of the job offer. The claimant accepted the job offer. The acceptance letter was sent to the Senior Claims Examiner at OWCP. Despite this, 30 days after the initial letter from the Senior Claims Examiner, the claimant was provided with a decision denying her entitlement to disability compensation benefits from OWCP. The decision denying the claimant’s right to disability compensation benefits stated that the claimant’s right to disability compensation benefits had been terminated as a result of her failure to contact the agency to advise them that she was accepting the job offer, and her failure to return to work.

Mr. Gest successfully argued that the simple acceptance of the job offer was sufficient to meet the requirement of the initial letter sent to the claimant. Mr. Gest argued that the basis for the decision terminating the claimant’s right to disability compensation benefits added another requirement, that of notifying the employing agency of the acceptance of the job and returning to work. This was not required by the initial letter. The decision of the Hearing Representative at the Branch of Hearings and Review dated March 16, 2011 stated in pertinent part as follows:

Neither the employing agency, nor the District Office advised the claimant that it would be her responsibility to contact the employing agency to schedule her return to work date. Rather, the agency was to contact the claimant upon acceptance of the job. The Office notified the employing agency on November 2, 2010 that the claimant had accepted the job, but the employing agency did not contact the claimant until after the Office terminated benefits on November 10, 2010. Further, the Office did not provide the claimant with the procedural fifteen-day period to accept the job. I find that the District Office failed to comply with procedural requirements in terminating the claimant’s benefits under section 8106, as there was no legal basis to terminate her benefits because she did not contact the employing agency to secure a return to work date.