Nearly all employees in Massachusetts are covered by some form of workers’ compensation insurance. There are both state and federal compensation programs for employees who are hurt at work or suffer an illness due to workplace conditions, and the one that applies to you depends on your specific circumstances. Is workers comp is under state or federal law

Workers' Compensation Benefits Under Massachusetts Law

The majority of employees in the state will collect injury benefits through the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA), which oversees Massachusetts' workers’ compensation system. All private companies operating in Massachusetts must purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees. Your eligibility and the amount of benefits you could receive depend on a number of conditions.


  • Who you are. You qualify for state workers’ compensation benefits if you work for a private employer, state department, or local government agency. You are also eligible if you are a relative of a qualifying worker who suffered a fatal injury on the job.
  • How long you have been unable to work. You have to be disabled for five calendar days to file a workers’ compensation benefits claim. The days don’t have to be consecutive, and they can be complete or partial work days. If you were disabled for less than five calendar days, you could file a “medical only” claim through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer to get reimbursement for your hospital bills.
  • Whether you are totally or partially disabled. Your benefits are calculated using a percentage of your average weekly wage. If you’re unable to work but are expected to return to work, you may collect temporary total incapacity benefits at 60% of your pre-tax average weekly wage for up to three years. If you can return to work in a reduced capacity (such as working shorter hours or in a lower-paying position), you may collect partial incapacity benefits to make up for some of the difference between your past and current wages. You can receive partial incapacity benefits for up to five years.
  • Whether you suffered disfigurement or permanent loss of function. In addition to regular weekly payments for medical bills and lost wages, state law gives you the right to receive a one-time lump sum payment for disfigurement, scarring, or lost function. The amount paid depends on the location of the scarring, the severity of the disfigurement, and/or the extent of lost function.

Federal Workers’ Compensation Programs for U.S. Government Employees

The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) under the U.S. Department of Labor oversees four major disability compensation programs for federal workers: the Federal Employees' Compensation Program, the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Program, the Federal Black Lung Program, and the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program. These provide federal workers (and sometimes their family members) with wage replacement benefits, payment for medical treatment, and vocational rehabilitation services.

Possible Federal Compensation

  • Traumatic injuries. An injury that occurs during one work shift, such as falling off a ladder, is a traumatic injury. Employees can begin an injury claim using Form CA-1: Federal Employee's Notice of Traumatic Injury and Claim for Continuation of Pay/Compensation.
  • Occupational illnesses. Federal employees who have suffered an occupational disease can file for benefits using Form CA-2: Notice of Occupational Disease and Claim for Compensation. Employees will have to submit specific and significant evidence that their medical condition developed due to work activities or repeated exposure to workplace hazards.
  • Paid leave taken during injury. Injured workers who use paid time off to cover a period of disability can apply to have their employers “buy back” these hours.
  • Outstanding claims. Under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA), all claims must be filed within three years of the date of injury or the date that the employee became aware of the relationship between their medical condition and their employment.

Our Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Can Help

If your claim has been denied, it’s vital to seek the advice of a workers’ compensation lawyer at Mahaney & Pappas, LLP to protect your rights. Special fee statutes apply to these cases, and if your claim is successful, your employer’s insurance company may be ordered to cover your legal costs. Please contact us online, or call 508-879-3500 to schedule a free case evaluation. 


Charles S. Pappas
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Massachusetts injury lawyer & workers' compensation attorney serving accident victims in Webster & Framingham.