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Update on OIG Investigation

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  • Kevin
    The Peace Corps Office of Inspector General (OIG) reports having achieved significant and tangible gains in our Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA)
    Message 1 of 17 , Jul 10, 2007
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      The Peace Corps Office of Inspector General (OIG) reports
      having "achieved significant and tangible gains in our Federal
      Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) investigation, uncovering numerous
      examples of abuse in the system, resulting in overall savings to the
      agency of over $2,000,000."

      More from the OIG's Semiannual Report to Congress, October 2006 -
      March 2007:

      "OIG Investigations of Federal Employees' Compensation Act Recipients:

      The OIG has made great strides during this reporting period in its
      investigation of false claims and unreported changes to the status of
      former Peace Corps Volunteers and staff that receive compensation via
      the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA). FECA compensates
      civilian federal employees who are disabled as a result of injuries
      incurred in the course of their employment. It provides for wage loss
      compensation, medical care, rehabilitation, attendant's allowance,
      and survivors' benefits. In the event of death due to employment,
      FECA provides for funeral and burial expenses and for the
      administrative costs of terminating a decedent's employee status with
      the federal government.

      FECA is administered by the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs
      (OWCP), Employee Standards Administration at the U.S. Department of
      Labor (DOL). The enabling legislation authorizing FECA claims (5
      U.S.C. § 8101 et seq.), addresses Peace Corps specifically within the
      context of FECA, and provides that Volunteers enrolled in the Peace
      Corps under the Peace Corps Act are entitled to FECA compensation for
      injuries or illnesses suffered during their service (see 5 U.S.C. §
      8142.) In addition, Peace Corps staff members are statutorily
      entitled to the full coverage of FECA (5 U.S.C. § 8101(1).

      Investigations:

      Unique Challenges at Peace Corps:

      The Peace Corps, for statutory reasons, and because of its Volunteer
      workforce, faces unique challenges with regard to limiting costs and
      ensuring efficiency in its FECA program. The Peace Corps has
      approximately 1,300 open FECA claims and estimates that it spends
      approximately $11,000,000 in FECA claims for former Volunteers and
      staff who were injured or became ill on the job. The Peace Corps
      Office of Medical Services (OMS) also estimated that over a million
      dollars is paid annually by the agency for workers' compensation
      disability claims for which individuals do not submit any medical
      bills to the Department of Labor during the same fiscal year.

      The Peace Corps is unique in the FECA program in several respects.
      While generally, under FECA regulations, in order to establish a FECA
      claim, a claimant must show that the injury, disease or death
      occurred while the employee was in the "performance of duty" or that
      the medical condition for which compensation is claimed is causally
      related to the claimed injury (20 C.F.R. § 10.115), because
      Volunteers are considered to be on duty 24 hours a day and 7 days a
      week, the regulations provide for a presumption that any injury
      sustained by a Volunteer while he or she is located abroad has been
      sustained in the performance of duty, and any illness contracted by a
      Volunteer during Peace Corps service is proximately caused by the
      employment. Because of the regulatory presumption, the standard and
      burden for a Peace Corps Volunteer to establish a FECA claim is
      considerably lower than for claimants in other federal agencies.
      However, according to 20 C.F.R. § 10.730, this presumption may be
      rebutted by specific evidence that the injury or illness was caused
      by willful misconduct on the part of the Peace Corps Volunteer, that
      it was proximately caused by intoxication from alcohol or illegal
      drugs, or that it was a pre-existing condition.

      Strategic Plan to Investigate FECA Claims:

      Peace Corps OIG developed a multi-faceted approach to dealing with
      potential fraud, waste and abuse in the Peace Corps FECA system. The
      Investigation unit implemented the following measures:

      • Coordinated with OMS to ensure that initial claims are closely
      scrutinized by the agency before the claims are accepted and sent to
      OWCP for review. In appropriate cases, ensured that documentation
      will be provided to OWCP that demonstrates why there is no
      relationship between the injury/condition and the Volunteers'
      service, to include past history of the Volunteer, evidence that
      he/she failed to disclose a pre-existing condition, any evidence of
      drug/alcohol use or abuse, or any other medical information that
      would controvert the claim.

      • Coordinated with the Peace Corps Office of General Counsel to
      ensure support in defending the agency in appeals to negative
      determinations of claims.

      • Sent out mass mailings to all Peace Corps FECA claimants reminding
      them of their obligations under FECA to report any changes regarding
      their disability status to OWCP. The purpose of these mass mailings
      were to encourage those who no longer meet disability status to
      voluntarily take themselves off the rolls or reduce their benefits
      without the need for OWCP and OMS personnel to scrutinize claims or
      have Peace Corps OIG investigate claims.

      • Highlighted claims that have potential fraud indicators, such as
      those with no or low medical costs but high compensatory benefits;
      death claimants who were young when their spouse died, but have no
      record of being remarried; high medical costs involving potentially
      addictive drugs; and soft tissue injuries, like carpel tunnel
      syndrome and lower back pain, as well as nonspecific diagnoses of
      depression or a mental disorder for targeted correspondence.
      Identification and targeting of potential fraud included OMS and OWCP
      document reviews, as well as traditional law enforcement techniques,
      involving subpoenas, credit checks, social security records
      coordination, and surveillance activities.

      • Visited Department of Labor OWCP regional offices to coordinate
      action on Peace Corps FECA claims and synchronize reviews to ensure
      that Peace Corps FECA claimants continue to file Form 1032 and update
      their status information on a timely basis. Recent Results Achieved
      Continued coordination with OMS and OWCP, coupled with OIG
      surveillances, target letters, and investigative activities, led to
      OWCP denying or reducing claims in numerous cases. Specifically,
      during the past two reporting periods, the OIG sent letters to over
      1,200 FECA recipients reminding them to report changes in their
      disability, current income, address, and other pertinent information
      to OMS and OWCP. Letters were also sent to specific recipients who we
      had reason to suspect possible FECA violations. Within a relatively
      short period after the OIG mailings, more than 500 FECA recipients
      voluntarily dropped off the rolls, which resulted in a savings of
      approximately $500,000.

      • During this reporting period, the OIG disclosed two cases of
      overpayments. The OIG used a mail cover and surveillance to
      investigate whether a claimant had supplemental income sources. The
      mail cover failed to disclose other sources of income; however, an
      OMS review revealed that the claimant had been compensated at an
      improper rate schedule. The overpayment was determined to be
      $175,000. The effect of this investigative effort was an annual
      savings for the agency of $21,551 and estimated savings over the
      lifetime of the claim of $387,919. In another instance OMS and the
      OIG found a claimant had received $9,102 in overpayment. This led to
      an annual savings on the part of the agency of $18,204 with the
      estimated savings to the Peace Corps over the lifetime of the claim
      being $873,792.

      • The OIG conducted surveillance on a claimant who was engaged in
      activities inconsistent with his alleged injuries. The OIG
      recommended that OWCP request a medical examination of the claimant
      to evaluate his injuries and suitability for work. In October 2006,
      OWCP changed the status of the claimant to medical only, resulting in
      an annual savings to the Peace Corps of $18,783.25. Actuarial savings
      to the agency over the life of this claim is estimated at over
      $806,000. Active Investigations of FECA Cases

      • Peace Corps OIG issued a subpoena for medical records of a former
      Volunteer that had been injured and institutionalized since 2003. An
      OIG agent met with hospital administrators who informed him of
      overpayments totaling approximately $58,000, dating back to calendar
      year 2003. Additionally, hospital administrators disclosed a DOL
      payment error that resulted in $10,596.00 in benefits going to the
      wrong caregiver. We continue to investigate this matter.

      • We investigated a FECA fraud case with the DOL/OIG in Florida that
      disclosed that the FECA claimant had been deceased for 18 months. Our
      investigation revealed that deposited FECA funds were accessed by a
      family member who failed to notify DOL/OWCP that the claimant was
      deceased. Peace Corps/OIG and DOL collected evidence to bring false
      claims and theft charges against the subject who had fraudulently
      utilized approximately $20,000 of the deceased claimant's benefits.
      We are presently working with an Assistant U.S. Attorney to determine
      if a prosecution may be brought.
    • FourDirect@aol.com
      Hi group, Does anyone else feel a bit offended by the fact that the whole OIG investigation exists in order to serve the government and save them money while
      Message 2 of 17 , Jul 10, 2007
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        Hi group,
         
        Does anyone else feel a bit offended by the fact that the whole OIG investigation exists in order to serve the government and save them money while nothing is being done to help those of us who struggle so hard to obtain what we are entitled to in order to heal or survive because we became ill while serving our country? I was not medivaced but became ill shortly after my departure for a Peace Corps related set of illnesses for which I have had a very legitimate claim.
         
        Just wondering how the group feels about this issue. I get so frustrated that we have no advocates.
         
        And Kevin, I thank you so much for taking the lead on managing this Listserv so well and for so long. Do stay in touch and be well.
         
        I do hope you are still interested, Sue!
         
        Best Wishes,
        Nancy Tongue
        NYC (Chile 1980-82)




        See what's free at AOL.com.
      • Sue T
        I am still interested and I am glad you use the word advocate . I just finished replying to Kevin regarding my oversight -- I realize not all of the folks on
        Message 3 of 17 , Jul 11, 2007
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          I am still interested and I am glad you use the word
          "advocate". I just finished replying to Kevin
          regarding my oversight -- I realize not all of the
          folks on this forum were med sepped like I was.
          However, we are all sort of drifting in the system of
          FECA and dealing with claim representatives in our
          respective areas who ultimately tell us that "I'm
          sorry, keep calling to _______ [fill in the blank --
          in my case it is keep calling to find a doctor who is
          closer than 400 miles to your home]".

          I am not sure what I can do as the forum
          administrator, but stirring up a bit of advocacy seems
          like a good use of this group. I eventually got my
          senator (Bill Nelson) involved in my case and my
          contact in his office said that if I really wanted the
          system to be easier to work with (she's dealt with
          OWCP/FECA for six years and never has her intervention
          had the desired result -- in my case obtaining
          reimbursement for the 7-hour drive to my doctor). She
          said point blank that until there is a critical mass
          nothing will change -- I've called the OIG in DC and
          complained at great length (realizing it would be
          nothing more than a catharsis and a bother to the
          fella on the other end [but I felt better afterwards].
          The guy there is sympathetic and seems to be very
          genuine in wishing my case were a bit easier, but
          "there's nothing I can do" is his ultimate response.
          The people are nice and sympathetic but completely
          powerless to get us results b/c of POLICIES. It's
          nonsense! My condition left me jobless, homeless,
          physically disabled, and in a tad bit of pain. I'm
          sure there are many more of you out there. Luckily I
          didn't have kids or other family responsibilities, so
          I've had TIME to waste on the system, but what about
          the others (I'm thinking of other fed employees
          injured on the job) who are single parents or
          something? The things the FECA system does is
          UNCONSCIONABLE!

          I've been quiet b/c I've been so focused on getting
          back on my feet. I'm finally walking (but looking at
          probably another surgery), working at a good job (in
          the public sector where taxes are getting slashed, so
          I only know I have a job for now. . . . ). I have a
          bit more energy to sort of think of others. I talk
          big about some kind of advocacy, but I am not
          promising to lead any kind of movement or anything.
          I'm fairly pragmatic (read: selfish and lazy).
          However, if something can foment interest in a group
          of us, my attitude could be easily changed.

          For the time being, I would simply like to take over
          this group as moderator or whatever. If you have
          ideas for how to improve the group, publicize it (it
          was really hard for me to find this group last year
          and I really needed some support [emotionally]), I
          would like to know. I'm not the moderator at this
          time, but should that occur, let's see what we can do.
          I know there are a lot more PCVs who could use this
          as a resource. I didn't find this until after my
          lowest low, but for others who hit that low-low, I'd
          like to see if this could be a resource for them as a
          support, and if there's something we can do to at
          least voice our take on the policies and such, what
          better resource than an online community?

          Anyway, I'm getting down off the soap box. Gotsta get
          back to work while I have this awesome job. . . .

          Regards,
          Sue Trone


          --- FourDirect@... wrote:

          > Hi group,
          >
          > Does anyone else feel a bit offended by the fact
          > that the whole OIG
          > investigation exists in order to serve the
          > government and save them money while
          > nothing is being done to help those of us who
          > struggle so hard to obtain what we
          > are entitled to in order to heal or survive because
          > we became ill while serving
          > our country? I was not medivaced but became ill
          > shortly after my departure
          > for a Peace Corps related set of illnesses for
          > which I have had a very
          > legitimate claim.
          >
          > Just wondering how the group feels about this issue.
          > I get so frustrated
          > that we have no advocates.
          >
          > And Kevin, I thank you so much for taking the lead
          > on managing this Listserv
          > so well and for so long. Do stay in touch and be
          > well.
          >
          > I do hope you are still interested, Sue!
          >
          > Best Wishes,
          > Nancy Tongue
          > NYC (Chile 1980-82)
          >
          >
          >
          > ************************************** See what's
          > free at http://www.aol.com
          >




          ____________________________________________________________________________________
          Don't pick lemons.
          See all the new 2007 cars at Yahoo! Autos.
          http://autos.yahoo.com/new_cars.html
        • Kevin
          For the time being, I would simply like to take over this group as moderator ... Your wish has been granted. :) Congratulations, and thank you for stepping
          Message 4 of 17 , Jul 11, 2007
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            "For the time being, I would simply like to take over
            this group as moderator ..."

            Your wish has been granted. :) Congratulations, and thank you for
            stepping forward. We all appreciate it.


            --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, Sue T <sallie_ali_sue@...> wrote:
            >
            > I am still interested and I am glad you use the word
            > "advocate". I just finished replying to Kevin
            > regarding my oversight -- I realize not all of the
            > folks on this forum were med sepped like I was.
            > However, we are all sort of drifting in the system of
            > FECA and dealing with claim representatives in our
            > respective areas who ultimately tell us that "I'm
            > sorry, keep calling to _______ [fill in the blank --
            > in my case it is keep calling to find a doctor who is
            > closer than 400 miles to your home]".
            >
            > I am not sure what I can do as the forum
            > administrator, but stirring up a bit of advocacy seems
            > like a good use of this group. I eventually got my
            > senator (Bill Nelson) involved in my case and my
            > contact in his office said that if I really wanted the
            > system to be easier to work with (she's dealt with
            > OWCP/FECA for six years and never has her intervention
            > had the desired result -- in my case obtaining
            > reimbursement for the 7-hour drive to my doctor). She
            > said point blank that until there is a critical mass
            > nothing will change -- I've called the OIG in DC and
            > complained at great length (realizing it would be
            > nothing more than a catharsis and a bother to the
            > fella on the other end [but I felt better afterwards].
            > The guy there is sympathetic and seems to be very
            > genuine in wishing my case were a bit easier, but
            > "there's nothing I can do" is his ultimate response.
            > The people are nice and sympathetic but completely
            > powerless to get us results b/c of POLICIES. It's
            > nonsense! My condition left me jobless, homeless,
            > physically disabled, and in a tad bit of pain. I'm
            > sure there are many more of you out there. Luckily I
            > didn't have kids or other family responsibilities, so
            > I've had TIME to waste on the system, but what about
            > the others (I'm thinking of other fed employees
            > injured on the job) who are single parents or
            > something? The things the FECA system does is
            > UNCONSCIONABLE!
            >
            > I've been quiet b/c I've been so focused on getting
            > back on my feet. I'm finally walking (but looking at
            > probably another surgery), working at a good job (in
            > the public sector where taxes are getting slashed, so
            > I only know I have a job for now. . . . ). I have a
            > bit more energy to sort of think of others. I talk
            > big about some kind of advocacy, but I am not
            > promising to lead any kind of movement or anything.
            > I'm fairly pragmatic (read: selfish and lazy).
            > However, if something can foment interest in a group
            > of us, my attitude could be easily changed.
            >
            > For the time being, I would simply like to take over
            > this group as moderator or whatever. If you have
            > ideas for how to improve the group, publicize it (it
            > was really hard for me to find this group last year
            > and I really needed some support [emotionally]), I
            > would like to know. I'm not the moderator at this
            > time, but should that occur, let's see what we can do.
            > I know there are a lot more PCVs who could use this
            > as a resource. I didn't find this until after my
            > lowest low, but for others who hit that low-low, I'd
            > like to see if this could be a resource for them as a
            > support, and if there's something we can do to at
            > least voice our take on the policies and such, what
            > better resource than an online community?
            >
            > Anyway, I'm getting down off the soap box. Gotsta get
            > back to work while I have this awesome job. . . .
            >
            > Regards,
            > Sue Trone
            >
            >
            > --- FourDirect@... wrote:
            >
            > > Hi group,
            > >
            > > Does anyone else feel a bit offended by the fact
            > > that the whole OIG
            > > investigation exists in order to serve the
            > > government and save them money while
            > > nothing is being done to help those of us who
            > > struggle so hard to obtain what we
            > > are entitled to in order to heal or survive because
            > > we became ill while serving
            > > our country? I was not medivaced but became ill
            > > shortly after my departure
            > > for a Peace Corps related set of illnesses for
            > > which I have had a very
            > > legitimate claim.
            > >
            > > Just wondering how the group feels about this issue.
            > > I get so frustrated
            > > that we have no advocates.
            > >
            > > And Kevin, I thank you so much for taking the lead
            > > on managing this Listserv
            > > so well and for so long. Do stay in touch and be
            > > well.
            > >
            > > I do hope you are still interested, Sue!
            > >
            > > Best Wishes,
            > > Nancy Tongue
            > > NYC (Chile 1980-82)
            > >
            > >
            > >
            > > ************************************** See what's
            > > free at http://www.aol.com
            > >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
            ______________________________________________________________________
            ______________
            > Don't pick lemons.
            > See all the new 2007 cars at Yahoo! Autos.
            > http://autos.yahoo.com/new_cars.html
            >
          • Kevin
            Peace Corps, especially its OIG, has a vested (and legitimate) interest in properly and efficiently paying for workers compensation claims. Peace Corps also
            Message 5 of 17 , Jul 11, 2007
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              Peace Corps, especially its OIG, has a vested (and legitimate)
              interest in properly and efficiently paying for workers' compensation
              claims. Peace Corps also has a vested interest, not to mention a
              legal responsibility, to make sure that those of us who are eligible
              for workers' compensation benefits receive those benefits.

              I am concerned that the former may take precedence over the latter.
              It's unfortunate that Peace Corps refuses to advocate for those of us
              who suffer at the hands of OWCP. Peace Corps is the client agency
              and could have a powerful influence over OWCP if it chose to.
              Unfortunately, to date, they have shown absolutely no interest in
              doing so.

              Kevin

              --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, FourDirect@... wrote:
              >
              > Hi group,
              >
              > Does anyone else feel a bit offended by the fact that the whole
              OIG
              > investigation exists in order to serve the government and save them
              money while
              > nothing is being done to help those of us who struggle so hard to
              obtain what we
              > are entitled to in order to heal or survive because we became ill
              while serving
              > our country? I was not medivaced but became ill shortly after my
              departure
              > for a Peace Corps related set of illnesses for which I have had a
              very
              > legitimate claim.
              >
              > Just wondering how the group feels about this issue. I get so
              frustrated
              > that we have no advocates.
              >
              > And Kevin, I thank you so much for taking the lead on managing
              this Listserv
              > so well and for so long. Do stay in touch and be well.
              >
              > I do hope you are still interested, Sue!
              >
              > Best Wishes,
              > Nancy Tongue
              > NYC (Chile 1980-82)
            • Kevin
              Sue, You mentioned that your caseworker said point blank that until there is a critical mass nothing will change. The problem is how to reach that critical
              Message 6 of 17 , Jul 11, 2007
              • 0 Attachment
                Sue,

                You mentioned that your caseworker said point blank that until there is
                a critical mass
                nothing will change. The problem is how to reach that critical mass.
                Since there is no centralized place (or person) that we can go to for
                assistance, it's extremely difficult to even approach critical mass.
                With 12 OWCP District Offices, 100 Senators, and 435 Representatives,
                how much more decentralized could the system be? As you may know, the
                former Peace Corps Director nixed the idea of an ombudsman to assist us.
                I wonder if the new Director, Ron Tschetter, would be amenable to
                resurrecting the idea. Maybe we should ask?

                Kevin


                --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, Sue T <sallie_ali_sue@...> wrote:
                >
                > I am still interested and I am glad you use the word
                > "advocate". I just finished replying to Kevin
                > regarding my oversight -- I realize not all of the
                > folks on this forum were med sepped like I was.
                > However, we are all sort of drifting in the system of
                > FECA and dealing with claim representatives in our
                > respective areas who ultimately tell us that "I'm
                > sorry, keep calling to _______ [fill in the blank --
                > in my case it is keep calling to find a doctor who is
                > closer than 400 miles to your home]".
                >
                > I am not sure what I can do as the forum
                > administrator, but stirring up a bit of advocacy seems
                > like a good use of this group. I eventually got my
                > senator (Bill Nelson) involved in my case and my
                > contact in his office said that if I really wanted the
                > system to be easier to work with (she's dealt with
                > OWCP/FECA for six years and never has her intervention
                > had the desired result -- in my case obtaining
                > reimbursement for the 7-hour drive to my doctor). She
                > said point blank that until there is a critical mass
                > nothing will change -- I've called the OIG in DC and
                > complained at great length (realizing it would be
                > nothing more than a catharsis and a bother to the
                > fella on the other end [but I felt better afterwards].
                > The guy there is sympathetic and seems to be very
                > genuine in wishing my case were a bit easier, but
                > "there's nothing I can do" is his ultimate response.
                > The people are nice and sympathetic but completely
                > powerless to get us results b/c of POLICIES. It's
                > nonsense! My condition left me jobless, homeless,
                > physically disabled, and in a tad bit of pain. I'm
                > sure there are many more of you out there. Luckily I
                > didn't have kids or other family responsibilities, so
                > I've had TIME to waste on the system, but what about
                > the others (I'm thinking of other fed employees
                > injured on the job) who are single parents or
                > something? The things the FECA system does is
                > UNCONSCIONABLE!
                >
                > I've been quiet b/c I've been so focused on getting
                > back on my feet. I'm finally walking (but looking at
                > probably another surgery), working at a good job (in
                > the public sector where taxes are getting slashed, so
                > I only know I have a job for now. . . . ). I have a
                > bit more energy to sort of think of others. I talk
                > big about some kind of advocacy, but I am not
                > promising to lead any kind of movement or anything.
                > I'm fairly pragmatic (read: selfish and lazy).
                > However, if something can foment interest in a group
                > of us, my attitude could be easily changed.
                >
                > For the time being, I would simply like to take over
                > this group as moderator or whatever. If you have
                > ideas for how to improve the group, publicize it (it
                > was really hard for me to find this group last year
                > and I really needed some support [emotionally]), I
                > would like to know. I'm not the moderator at this
                > time, but should that occur, let's see what we can do.
                > I know there are a lot more PCVs who could use this
                > as a resource. I didn't find this until after my
                > lowest low, but for others who hit that low-low, I'd
                > like to see if this could be a resource for them as a
                > support, and if there's something we can do to at
                > least voice our take on the policies and such, what
                > better resource than an online community?
                >
                > Anyway, I'm getting down off the soap box. Gotsta get
                > back to work while I have this awesome job. . . .
                >
                > Regards,
                > Sue Trone
                >
                >
                > --- FourDirect@... wrote:
                >
                > > Hi group,
                > >
                > > Does anyone else feel a bit offended by the fact
                > > that the whole OIG
                > > investigation exists in order to serve the
                > > government and save them money while
                > > nothing is being done to help those of us who
                > > struggle so hard to obtain what we
                > > are entitled to in order to heal or survive because
                > > we became ill while serving
                > > our country? I was not medivaced but became ill
                > > shortly after my departure
                > > for a Peace Corps related set of illnesses for
                > > which I have had a very
                > > legitimate claim.
                > >
                > > Just wondering how the group feels about this issue.
                > > I get so frustrated
                > > that we have no advocates.
                > >
                > > And Kevin, I thank you so much for taking the lead
                > > on managing this Listserv
                > > so well and for so long. Do stay in touch and be
                > > well.
                > >
                > > I do hope you are still interested, Sue!
                > >
                > > Best Wishes,
                > > Nancy Tongue
                > > NYC (Chile 1980-82)
              • Kevin
                I ll still be around. I just need to step aside, for the most part, and let others take a stab at running the Group. ... Listserv so well and for so long. Do
                Message 7 of 17 , Jul 11, 2007
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                  I'll still be around. I just need to step aside, for the most part,
                  and let others take a stab at running the Group.

                  --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, FourDirect@... wrote:

                  > ... Kevin, I thank you so much for taking the lead on managing this
                  Listserv so well and for so long. Do stay in touch and be well.
                • Kevin
                  I forgot to mention the one sentence in the OIG report that really caught my eye: Within a relatively short period after the OIG mailings, more than 500 FECA
                  Message 8 of 17 , Jul 11, 2007
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                    I forgot to mention the one sentence in the OIG report that really
                    caught my eye:

                    "Within a relatively short period after the OIG mailings, more than
                    500 FECA recipients voluntarily dropped off the rolls, which resulted
                    in a savings of approximately $500,000."

                    I have to wonder how many of those individuals were scofflaws and how
                    many gave up because they were intimidated by the OIG!



                    --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, FourDirect@... wrote:
                    >
                    > Hi group,
                    >
                    > Does anyone else feel a bit offended by the fact that the whole
                    OIG
                    > investigation exists in order to serve the government and save them
                    money while
                    > nothing is being done to help those of us who struggle so hard to
                    obtain what we
                    > are entitled to in order to heal or survive because we became ill
                    while serving
                    > our country? ...

                    > Best Wishes,
                    > Nancy Tongue
                    > NYC (Chile 1980-82)
                  • Felicia
                    Also, if your condition isn t one that the Peace Corps wants to talk about (like the long term side effects of taking Lariam), then they do a good job of
                    Message 9 of 17 , Jul 11, 2007
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                      Also, if your condition isn't one that the Peace Corps
                      wants to talk about (like the long term side effects of
                      taking Lariam), then they do a good job of preventing
                      injured volunteers from getting compensation. -- Felicia

                      > Peace Corps, especially its OIG, has a vested (and
                      > legitimate)
                      > interest in properly and efficiently paying for workers'
                      > compensation
                      > claims. Peace Corps also has a vested interest, not to
                      > mention a
                      > legal responsibility, to make sure that those of us who
                      > are eligible
                      > for workers' compensation benefits receive those benefits.
                      >
                      > I am concerned that the former may take precedence over
                      > the latter.
                      > It's unfortunate that Peace Corps refuses to advocate for
                      > those of us
                      > who suffer at the hands of OWCP. Peace Corps is the
                      > client agency
                      > and could have a powerful influence over OWCP if it chose
                      > to.
                      > Unfortunately, to date, they have shown absolutely no
                      > interest in
                      > doing so.
                      >
                      > Kevin
                      >
                      > --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, FourDirect@... wrote:
                      >>
                      >> Hi group,
                      >>
                      >> Does anyone else feel a bit offended by the fact that
                      >> the whole
                      > OIG
                      >> investigation exists in order to serve the government
                      >> and save them
                      > money while
                      >> nothing is being done to help those of us who struggle
                      >> so hard to
                      > obtain what we
                      >> are entitled to in order to heal or survive because we
                      >> became ill
                      > while serving
                      >> our country? I was not medivaced but became ill shortly
                      >> after my
                      > departure
                      >> for a Peace Corps related set of illnesses for which I
                      >> have had a
                      > very
                      >> legitimate claim.
                      >>
                      >> Just wondering how the group feels about this issue. I
                      >> get so
                      > frustrated
                      >> that we have no advocates.
                      >>
                      >> And Kevin, I thank you so much for taking the lead on
                      >> managing
                      > this Listserv
                      >> so well and for so long. Do stay in touch and be well.
                      >>
                      >> I do hope you are still interested, Sue!
                      >>
                      >> Best Wishes,
                      >> Nancy Tongue
                      >> NYC (Chile 1980-82)
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > Yahoo! Groups Links
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                    • FourDirect@aol.com
                      In a message dated 7/11/2007 1:41:44 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, rpcv@coolgoose.com writes: Sue, You mentioned that your caseworker said point blank that
                      Message 10 of 17 , Jul 11, 2007
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                        In a message dated 7/11/2007 1:41:44 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, rpcv@... writes:
                        Sue,

                        You mentioned that your caseworker said point blank that until there is
                        a critical mass
                        nothing will change. The problem is how to reach that critical mass.
                        Since there is no centralized place (or person) that we can go to for
                        assistance, it's extremely difficult to even approach critical mass.
                        With 12 OWCP District Offices, 100 Senators, and 435 Representatives,
                        how much more decentralized could the system be? As you may know, the
                        former Peace Corps Director nixed the idea of an ombudsman to assist us.
                        I wonder if the new Director, Ron Tschetter, would be amenable to
                        resurrecting the idea. Maybe we should ask?

                        Kevin
                        Senator Schumer's office (US Senate (D) NY), which submits my medical claims, is also willing to investigate this issue but needs critical mass, as well. And I had a contact at NBC a while back who wished to do a feature on this but needed a number of people willing to come forward. That's when I began to want to get this group going and Kevin came forward with his willingness to do so. I don't believe anymore that Peace Corps will really ever become accountable to us unless they are somehow "shamed" into doing so, so to speak. I really wonder how many of there actually are and how we can go about bringing our concerns to the correct body to create positive change?
                         
                        I know that speaking for myself I have a tendency to just try to get my own health and life together when I am in crisis and then when that passes I just want to leave all this behind me and move my life forward. It is hard to find the right time in my own life to actually go forward in the correct manner and speak out. I am on some kind of road to health stabilization and am changing my career to accommodate my illnesses so maybe once I accomplish that I won't be so reticent to really move forward and consider going to press.
                         
                        Nancy Tongue
                         
                        Ideas?




                        Get a sneak peak of the all-new AOL.com.
                      • Kevin
                        Nancy, This is promising news. Do you know, or can you find out, what Senator Schumer would need to proceed? I wouldn t expect his office to do casework for
                        Message 11 of 17 , Jul 12, 2007
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                          Nancy,

                          This is promising news. Do you know, or can you find out, what
                          Senator Schumer would need to proceed? I wouldn't expect his office
                          to do casework for former Volunteers across the country, but what
                          would be possible? Advocate for us as a group? Push for
                          Congressional hearings? Call for a GAO study of OWCP and/or PCMO?

                          I, for one, would be willing to provide his office anything I could
                          if he were willing to run with it.

                          Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

                          Kevin

                          --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, FourDirect@... wrote:

                          Senator Schumer's office (US Senate (D) NY), which submits my medical
                          claims, is also willing to investigate this issue but needs critical
                          mass, as well...
                        • Felicia
                          If we are looking for volunteers who have been badly treated by the Peace Corps, the Lariam toxicity group that I m on has tons. While they add numbers,
                          Message 12 of 17 , Jul 12, 2007
                          • 0 Attachment
                            If we are looking for volunteers who have been badly
                            treated by the Peace Corps, the Lariam toxicity group that
                            I'm on has tons. While they add numbers, though, they
                            take away credibility. Since next to none of us can prove
                            that Lariam caused our condition (although at least there
                            are studies out there now that prove that it causes the
                            brain damage that all of us suffer from), we look more
                            often like a bunch of cranks. Of course, the Peace Corps
                            doesn't help with that, since they are the first ones to
                            call us liars. -- Felicia

                            >
                            > In a message dated 7/11/2007 1:41:44 P.M. Eastern Standard
                            > Time,
                            > rpcv@... writes:
                            >
                            > Sue,
                            >
                            > You mentioned that your caseworker said point blank that
                            > until there is
                            > a critical mass
                            > nothing will change. The problem is how to reach that
                            > critical mass.
                            > Since there is no centralized place (or person) that we
                            > can go to for
                            > assistance, it's extremely difficult to even approach
                            > critical mass.
                            > With 12 OWCP District Offices, 100 Senators, and 435
                            > Representatives,
                            > how much more decentralized could the system be? As you
                            > may know, the
                            > former Peace Corps Director nixed the idea of an
                            > ombudsman to assist us.
                            > I wonder if the new Director, Ron Tschetter, would be
                            > amenable to
                            > resurrecting the idea. Maybe we should ask?
                            >
                            > Kevin
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > Senator Schumer's office (US Senate (D) NY), which submits
                            > my medical
                            > claims, is also willing to investigate this issue but
                            > needs critical mass, as well.
                            > And I had a contact at NBC a while back who wished to do a
                            > feature on this
                            > but needed a number of people willing to come forward.
                            > That's when I began to
                            > want to get this group going and Kevin came forward with
                            > his willingness to
                            > do so. I don't believe anymore that Peace Corps will
                            > really ever become
                            > accountable to us unless they are somehow "shamed" into
                            > doing so, so to speak. I
                            > really wonder how many of there actually are and how we
                            > can go about bringing
                            > our concerns to the correct body to create positive
                            > change?
                            >
                            > I know that speaking for myself I have a tendency to just
                            > try to get my own
                            > health and life together when I am in crisis and then when
                            > that passes I just
                            > want to leave all this behind me and move my life forward.
                            > It is hard to find
                            > the right time in my own life to actually go forward in
                            > the correct manner
                            > and speak out. I am on some kind of road to health
                            > stabilization and am
                            > changing my career to accommodate my illnesses so maybe
                            > once I accomplish that I
                            > won't be so reticent to really move forward and consider
                            > going to press.
                            >
                            > Nancy Tongue
                            >
                            > Ideas?
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > ************************************** Get a sneak peak of
                            > the all-new AOL at
                            > http://discover.aol.com/memed/aolcom30tour
                            >
                          • Kevin
                            Felicia, Please remind me: 1. Did you have symptoms during your PC service? If so, do you have substantially similar symptoms now or a documented progression
                            Message 13 of 17 , Jul 12, 2007
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                              Felicia,

                              Please remind me:

                              1. Did you have symptoms during your PC service? If so, do you have
                              substantially similar symptoms now or a documented progression of those
                              symptoms?

                              2. Do you receive or have you received any medical or disability
                              benefits from OWCP?

                              Thanks.

                              Kevin

                              --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, "Felicia" <felicia@...> wrote:
                              >
                              > If we are looking for volunteers who have been badly
                              > treated by the Peace Corps, the Lariam toxicity group that
                              > I'm on has tons. While they add numbers, though, they
                              > take away credibility. Since next to none of us can prove
                              > that Lariam caused our condition (although at least there
                              > are studies out there now that prove that it causes the
                              > brain damage that all of us suffer from), we look more
                              > often like a bunch of cranks. Of course, the Peace Corps
                              > doesn't help with that, since they are the first ones to
                              > call us liars. -- Felicia
                            • Felicia
                              ... Yes, I was eventually medically separated because of this problem. ... Yes. Lariam toxicity typically is cyclical, though, so I go through phases. ...
                              Message 14 of 17 , Jul 12, 2007
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                                > 1. Did you have symptoms during your PC service?

                                Yes, I was eventually medically separated because of this
                                problem.

                                > If so,
                                > do you have
                                > substantially similar symptoms now or a documented
                                > progression of those
                                > symptoms?

                                Yes. Lariam toxicity typically is cyclical, though, so I
                                go through phases.

                                > 2. Do you receive or have you received any medical or
                                > disability
                                > benefits from OWCP?

                                Yes, I receive both time loss payments and
                                medical/psychiatric coverage from OWCP. This, I believe,
                                is because I made a huge stink when I was in DC before my
                                medical separation. I was so emotionally unstable that I
                                knew (and I was right) that there was no way that I'd be
                                able to work. I told them that I'd end up homeless if
                                they sent me away in that condition. The Peace Corps said
                                that my illness was because of my service, although the
                                psychologist in DC never mentioned Lariam. Here we are
                                three years later and my psychologist tells me not to even
                                think about work, as it will be years before I will have
                                recovered enough. Although in the last few months, I have
                                found that my ability to think is coming back, which gives
                                me hope that recovery is possible.

                                My problem with the OWCP is mainly small things, like
                                billing issues, combined with the larger problem of the
                                Peace Corps not talking about the damage that Lariam does.
                                It is an uphill battle to get anyone to take my condition
                                seriously, but I am far luckier than most Lariam victims.
                                Most cannot get any disability, have much more severe
                                psychological and health problems, and are still trying to
                                work. -- Felicia
                              • Kevin
                                Nancy, I m willing to provide my story. Is anyone else? Did the Senator s staff give you any idea of the numbers that would be required to move ahead with an
                                Message 15 of 17 , Jul 13, 2007
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                                  Nancy,

                                  I'm willing to provide my story. Is anyone else? Did the Senator's
                                  staff give you any idea of the numbers that would be required to move
                                  ahead with an investigation?

                                  Kevin

                                  > --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, FourDirect@ wrote:
                                  Senator Schumer's office last fall said that they would like some
                                  stories and numbers and then they would decide what they would do
                                  regarding possible investigations.
                                • Kevin
                                  Hi Felicia, Thank you for putting up with my questions. I know most of what I asked was redundant; I was just too lazy to read through several old messages to
                                  Message 16 of 17 , Jul 13, 2007
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                                    Hi Felicia,

                                    Thank you for putting up with my questions.  I know most of what I asked was redundant; I was just too lazy to read through several old messages to find the answers.

                                    The reasons I asked what I did, particularly those questions in item 1, was to get a feel for when and how the adverse effects of Lariam arise.

                                    In my opinion, you and other persons in your situation should not be asked by Peace Corps or OWCP to "prove" that Lariam was the underlying cause of your condition.  It's irrelevant.  As the OIG noted in his report, the [FECA] regulations provide for a presumption that any injury sustained by a Volunteer while he or she is located abroad has been sustained in the performance of duty, and any illness contracted by aVolunteer during Peace Corps service is proximately caused by the employment.

                                    Early on, I too was asked to prove that my condition (asthma) was caused by some environmental factor in Yemen.  OWCP quickly backed off when my Congressman at the time called them on it.  I don't know if claims examiners are so poorly trained that they don't know the special regulations for former Volunteers, or if trying to saddle the claimant with the burden of proof is just a tactic to get people to withdraw their claims.

                                    Kevin

                                    --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, "Felicia" <felicia@...> wrote:
                                    >
                                    > > 1. Did you have symptoms during your PC service?
                                    >
                                    > Yes, I was eventually medically separated because of this
                                    > problem.
                                    >
                                    > > If so,
                                    > > do you have
                                    > > substantially similar symptoms now or a documented
                                    > > progression of those
                                    > > symptoms?
                                    >
                                    > Yes. Lariam toxicity typically is cyclical, though, so I
                                    > go through phases.
                                    >
                                    > > 2. Do you receive or have you received any medical or
                                    > > disability
                                    > > benefits from OWCP?
                                    >
                                    > Yes, I receive both time loss payments and
                                    > medical/psychiatric coverage from OWCP. This, I believe,
                                    > is because I made a huge stink when I was in DC before my
                                    > medical separation. I was so emotionally unstable that I
                                    > knew (and I was right) that there was no way that I'd be
                                    > able to work. I told them that I'd end up homeless if
                                    > they sent me away in that condition. The Peace Corps said
                                    > that my illness was because of my service, although the
                                    > psychologist in DC never mentioned Lariam. Here we are
                                    > three years later and my psychologist tells me not to even
                                    > think about work, as it will be years before I will have
                                    > recovered enough. Although in the last few months, I have
                                    > found that my ability to think is coming back, which gives
                                    > me hope that recovery is possible.
                                    >
                                    > My problem with the OWCP is mainly small things, like
                                    > billing issues, combined with the larger problem of the
                                    > Peace Corps not talking about the damage that Lariam does.
                                    > It is an uphill battle to get anyone to take my condition
                                    > seriously, but I am far luckier than most Lariam victims.
                                    > Most cannot get any disability, have much more severe
                                    > psychological and health problems, and are still trying to
                                    > work. -- Felicia
                                    >

                                  • Felicia
                                    You are correct. I often point this out to volunteers who are trying to get medical coverage, as they often fixate on Lariam. My problem isn t that I don t
                                    Message 17 of 17 , Jul 13, 2007
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                                      You are correct. I often point this out to volunteers who
                                      are trying to get medical coverage, as they often fixate
                                      on Lariam. My problem isn't that I don't get coverage,
                                      but that the Peace Corps is the largest user in the world
                                      of this medication and they deny that it causes problems.
                                      Most doctors just want to say that I have depression or
                                      that I'm neurotic and lazy. If the Peace Corps were to
                                      say "Yes, Lariam can cause long term problems" then I'd
                                      have better luck getting doctors to look harder at my
                                      problems. Luckily, my psychologist is convinced that
                                      Lariam has caused this weird collection of cognitive,
                                      emotional, vision and balance problems that I have. Does
                                      that make sense? Please feel free to ask more questions.
                                      -- Felicia

                                      > Thank you for putting up with my questions. I know most
                                      > of what I asked
                                      > was redundant; I was just too lazy to read through several
                                      > old messages
                                      > to find the answers.
                                      >
                                      > The reasons I asked what I did, particularly those
                                      > questions in item 1,
                                      > was to get a feel for when and how the adverse effects of
                                      > Lariam arise.
                                      >
                                      > In my opinion, you and other persons in your situation
                                      > should not be
                                      > asked by Peace Corps or OWCP to "prove" that Lariam was
                                      > the underlying
                                      > cause of your condition. It's irrelevant. As the OIG
                                      > noted in his
                                      > report, the [FECA] regulations provide for a presumption
                                      > that any injury
                                      > sustained by a Volunteer while he or she is located abroad
                                      > has been
                                      > sustained in the performance of duty, and any illness
                                      > contracted by
                                      > aVolunteer during Peace Corps service is proximately
                                      > caused by the
                                      > employment.
                                      >
                                      > Early on, I too was asked to prove that my condition
                                      > (asthma) was caused
                                      > by some environmental factor in Yemen. OWCP quickly
                                      > backed off when my
                                      > Congressman at the time called them on it. I don't know
                                      > if claims
                                      > examiners are so poorly trained that they don't know the
                                      > special
                                      > regulations for former Volunteers, or if trying to saddle
                                      > the claimant
                                      > with the burden of proof is just a tactic to get people to
                                      > withdraw
                                      > their claims.
                                      >
                                      > Kevin
                                      >
                                      >
                                      > --- In owcp@yahoogroups.com, "Felicia" <felicia@...>
                                      > wrote:
                                      >>
                                      >> > 1. Did you have symptoms during your PC service?
                                      >>
                                      >> Yes, I was eventually medically separated because of
                                      >> this
                                      >> problem.
                                      >>
                                      >> > If so,
                                      >> > do you have
                                      >> > substantially similar symptoms now or a documented
                                      >> > progression of those
                                      >> > symptoms?
                                      >>
                                      >> Yes. Lariam toxicity typically is cyclical, though, so I
                                      >> go through phases.
                                      >>
                                      >> > 2. Do you receive or have you received any medical or
                                      >> > disability
                                      >> > benefits from OWCP?
                                      >>
                                      >> Yes, I receive both time loss payments and
                                      >> medical/psychiatric coverage from OWCP. This, I believe,
                                      >> is because I made a huge stink when I was in DC before
                                      >> my
                                      >> medical separation. I was so emotionally unstable that I
                                      >> knew (and I was right) that there was no way that I'd be
                                      >> able to work. I told them that I'd end up homeless if
                                      >> they sent me away in that condition. The Peace Corps
                                      >> said
                                      >> that my illness was because of my service, although the
                                      >> psychologist in DC never mentioned Lariam. Here we are
                                      >> three years later and my psychologist tells me not to
                                      >> even
                                      >> think about work, as it will be years before I will have
                                      >> recovered enough. Although in the last few months, I
                                      >> have
                                      >> found that my ability to think is coming back, which
                                      >> gives
                                      >> me hope that recovery is possible.
                                      >>
                                      >> My problem with the OWCP is mainly small things, like
                                      >> billing issues, combined with the larger problem of the
                                      >> Peace Corps not talking about the damage that Lariam
                                      >> does.
                                      >> It is an uphill battle to get anyone to take my
                                      >> condition
                                      >> seriously, but I am far luckier than most Lariam
                                      >> victims.
                                      >> Most cannot get any disability, have much more severe
                                      >> psychological and health problems, and are still trying
                                      >> to
                                      >> work. -- Felicia
                                      >>
                                      >
                                      >
                                      >
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