How to Apply for DC Workers Compensation Benefits

Important: We updated this article in March 2023 so all information below is current and correct. If you were hurt or got sick on the job our nation’s capital, here’s the information you need to get the DC workers compensation benefits you’re entitled to.

Am I Eligible for DC Workers Compensation Benefits?

Local and state laws determine the workers’ compensation claims process for most sick or injured employees. Employers in the District with one or more employees must carry workers comp coverage. Federal workers follow a different process, regardless of where they’re based. Get the details on workers’ comp for federal employees.

Pro Tip: To qualify for DC workers compensation benefits, you must prove your injury or illness is work-related. Find out more about how to qualify for workers comp benefits.

How Do I File a DC Workers Compensation Claim?

If your workplace injury or illness requires emergency or urgent care, seek treatment immediately.

While every case is different, according to the Department of Employment Services (DOES), the process usually works like this:

1. Inform your employer about your workplace injury or illness and seek medical treatment.

You can get care before notifying your boss and choose the doctor who treats you.

Pro Tip: Tell the doctor your injury or illness is work-related and keep your receipts and bills.

2. File the necessary forms.

Start by submitting DCWC Form 7, Employee’s Notice of Accidental Injury or Occupational Disease, within 30 days to your employer and the Office of Workers’ Compensation. Then turn in DCWC Form 7A, Employee’s Claim Application, within one year after the incident occurs. This preserves your right to claim any DC workers compensation benefits you’re legally owed.

3. Make sure your employer files DCWC Form 8, Employer’s First Report of Injury or Occupational Disease, within 10 days.

If they don’t, then they could be fined $1,000.

4. Wait for a decision.

If approved, payments begin within 28 days after your accident or illness. Workers’ comp covers all medical expenses related to your injury.

Pro Tip: You must miss at least three days at work before you’ll qualify for lost wages. You’ll get wage payments for those first three days if you’re out longer than 14 days total.

5. Take action if your claim’s denied.

You have two options to appeal. You can request an informal conference with a claims examiner to review your case. They have 30 days from your meeting date to issue a recommendation to approve or deny your claim. Another option is to apply for a formal hearing with the Administrative Hearings Division by filing Application for Formal Hearing Form No. 20 using the e-File system.

Pro Tip: We strongly recommend hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer to help you appeal.

For more about the DC workers compensation program, read these OWC FAQs.

What Else Should I Know About DC Workers Compensation?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzes workers’ comp data on most U.S. states and territories. The total number of recordable cases in the District fluctuated wildly during COVID-19, dropping during the initial stay-at-home orders in 2020, from a high of 9,200 in 2018 to 4,500 in 2020. Then it spiked to 12,900 in 2021, likely fueled by a dramatic increase in local COVID-19 cases in December of that year.

According to DOES, some of those cases were eligible for workers comp if the person was exposed to the virus at work during their “regular duties” and lost wages as a result. The number of employees who missed work, transferred jobs or received restrictions followed a similar path. The number of claims reported in service industries, however, trended down from a high of 7,100 in 2018 to a low of 3,600 in 2021.

When you’re dealing with a work-related illness or injury, navigating the DC workers compensation system can make the discomfort and frustration even worse. You may want to hire an experienced attorney to help you get maximum benefits faster. Your lawyer can negotiate with insurers, gather medical evidence to support your claim, and also represent you at hearings.

Pro Tip: Workers’ comp attorneys don’t charge any fees unless you win benefits. You pay a reasonable, one-time fee only if your case is successful. See how a free workers’ comp evaluation works.

Want free expert claim help while you’re at home? Click the button below to sign up for a free phone call during regular weekday business hours:

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Margot Lester is the CEO ofThe Word Factory,a B2B & B2C content marketing agency that provides services for Fortune 100 brands, healthtech companies and SaaS developers. An award-winning business and brand journalist, she writes for daily and weekly newspapers and business journals, national magazines, in-flight publications and leading websites. Margot is also an in-demand writing coach and organizational communications trainer,helping individuals and teams write more effectively. Twitter/