Whats the difference between CA-1 & CA-2?

What’s the difference between a traumatic injury and occupational disease?

The terms traumatic injury and occupational disease have very specific meanings at the Department of Labor, and these definitions may not line up with how you might otherwise use them in everyday conversation. The key difference is how your condition came about.

The CA-1 form covers traumatic injuries. A traumatic injury is something that happened in a single work shift. Often that’s a simple enough case; for example, you are injured in a work-related accident. In other cases, the distinction may not be so obvious. For example, you might slip down the stairs, feel fine at the time, but later suffer from back pain. If you can link that back pain to the slip, it can still count as a traumatic injury.

You should also use CA-1 if you are claiming for emotional or mental stress that was caused by a specific incident at work.

You should use CA-1 whenever a new incident causes an injury, even if it leads to the same symptoms or affects the same body parts as a previous work-related condition.

The CA-2 form covers occupational diseases. An occupation disease is one where your medical condition is caused by events that have taken place across multiple shifts. For example, a repetitive strain on your body from carrying out the same action repeatedly at work can lead to an occupational disease. Note that, although the CA-2 refers to diseases, the form can cover a much broader array of medical conditions.

What are the different payments I can get by filling out the forms?

A big difference between a claim under the CA-1 form and the CA-2 form is the type of benefits you can receive under each form.

The CA-1 form is an application for the Continuation of Pay. Under this form, you can continue receiving your full pay for up to a 45 calendar-day period where you can’t work after your injury.

Notably, these days don’t have to be in one consecutive block. If you return to work part-time during your recovery, COP will cover the remainder of each day’s pay. Each day this happens will count as one of the 45 days, even though COP only pays part of a day’s wages.

The CA-2 form is a claim for compensation. You’ll need to decide whether to use paid leave while you’re unable to work or to apply for wage loss benefits from the Department of Labor. The Department of Labor can feel slow to process your claim, so you may be without pay for a while as you wait for the benefits to be approved.

Note: You’ll eventually need to file a separate form (the CA-7 form) to apply for wage loss benefits, but the process starts with the CA-2 form.

How does filing the claim work?

You’ll need to claim electronically through the Employees’ Compensation Operations and Management Portal at https://ecomp.dol.gov. The first step is to register and create an account.

Once you’ve created an account, filing the claim is normally a collaborative process between you and your employer. Generally, you’ll need to complete part of either CA-1 or CA-2. Your supervisor will then complete the supervisor’s part of the form to acknowledge the claim and allow it to proceed.

Your employer may have a designated Occupational Safety and Health Administration Specialist and/or a Workers’ Compensation Specialist. Normally, this person can help you upload any paperwork and supporting documentation. For example, documentation may include medical reports and witness statements.

Of course, your employer may dispute your account of how the injury happened or occupational disease developed. When this happens, the supervisor may report a different account of the events than your report. Your supervisor cannot, however, prevent you from making the claim.

What time limits apply?

The time limits depend on which form you are using.

If you’re using CA-1 and applying for Continuation of Pay then:

  • you must file CA-1 within 30 days of the injury, and
  • your absence from work (caused by the injury) must be within 45 days of the injury.

If you fail either of these requirements, you will need to complete a claim for compensation in the same way as a person submitting a CA-2 form.

With both forms, there is also a three-year limit for claiming compensation. With the CA-1 form, the deadline is three years from when you suffered the injury. With the CA-2 form, the deadline is three years from when you first became aware of the medical condition.

What else do I need to know?

If you require immediate medical attention because of a workplace injury, workers’ compensation may cover your treatment rather than your own medical insurance. Check with your employer to make sure they’ve completed the necessary forms to authorize payment for the treatment.

Also, some sections of the CA-1 and CA-2 forms may not seem relevant to your case. Do not leave these sections blank, though; doing so could delay the processing of your claim. Instead, mark these sections with “N/A”.

Further, if you use annual or sick leave to cover your absence (rather than applying and waiting for wage loss benefits), you may be able to “repurchase” the leave. Check with your employer to see if this is an option and how it works.

Finally, you should always consider filing either a CA-1 or CA-2 form after suffering a workplace injury or medical condition, and even if you don’t expect to take any time off, you should always report the injury or condition to your supervisor. These steps can protect you in case you need related medical care or need to take time off work later on.