The following FAQ's are intended to answer some of the most common questions we hear from our clients regarding Defense Base Act insurance coverage. If you have other questions or need a DBA insurance quote, please contact us or use the"Ask A Quick Question" form to the right and one of our Defense Base Act insurance specialists will be glad to help.
What is the Defense Base Act (DBA)?
The DBA is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers'
Compensation Act (LHWCA) which provides disability compensation and medical
benefits to employees and death benefits to eligible survivors of employees of
U.S. government contractors who perform work overseas. With a few exceptions,
the DBA incorporates the provisions of the LHWCA.
Who is covered under the DBA? The Defense Base Act covers the following employment activities:
Work for private employers on U.S. military bases or on any lands
used by the U.S. for military purposes outside of the United States, including
those in U.S. Territories and possessions;
Work on public work contracts with any U.S.
government agency, including construction and service contracts in connection
with national defense or with war activities outside the United States;
Work on contracts approved and funded by the U.S. under the Foreign
Assistance Act, which among other things provides for cash sale of military
equipment, materials, and services to its allies, if the contract is performed
outside of the United States;
Work for American employers providing welfare or similar services
outside the United States for the benefit of the Armed Services, e.g. the
United Service Organizations (USO).
If any one of the above criteria is met, all employees engaged in such
employment, regardless of nationality (including U.S. citizens and residents,
host country nationals (local hires), and third country nationals (individuals
hired from another country to work in the host country)), are covered under the
3. What does "public work" mean?
"Public work" is defined in the Act as any fixed improvement or any
project, whether or not fixed, involving construction, alteration, removal or
repair for the public use of the United States or its allies. However, "public
work" is not limited to construction. It includes any project or operation
under service contracts and projects in connection with the national defense or
with war activities.
Is work performed pursuant to a grant covered under the DBA?
Although this issue has been addressed by a court of law in only one
instance, the Department of Labor has adopted a position consistent with the
decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in University of
Rochester v. Hartman (Vishniac), 618 F.2d 170 (2nd Cir. 1980), that work
performed pursuant to a grant is not covered under the DBA.
Who administers the DBA?
The U. S. Department of Labor, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs
(OWCP), Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation (DLHWC),
administers the DBA through eleven district offices located throughout the
For example, a claim arising out of injuries sustained in Iraq
and Afghanistan should be filed with the New York Longshore District
Office, Post Office Box 249, 201 Varick Street, Room 740, New York, NY 10014,
telephone (646)264-3010, fax (646) 264-3002. A claim for an injury or death
which occurred in Europe, Africa, or Central and South
America should also be filed in New York.
Claims based on Vietnam era Agent Orange exposure should be filed
in the Honolulu District Office, U.S. Department of Labor, OWCP/DLHWC, 300
Ala Moana Blvd., Room 5-135, Post Office Box 50209, Honolulu, HI 96850,
telephone (808) 541-1983, fax (808) 541-1758.
What types of benefits are available under the DBA?
The Defense Base Act provides disability and medical benefits to covered
employees injured in the course of employment and death benefits to eligible
survivors of employees killed in the course of employment. Compensation for
total disability is two-thirds of the employee's average weekly earnings, up to
a current maximum rate per week. Compensation
is also payable for partial loss of earnings.
Death benefits are paid at the rate of one-half of the employee's
average weekly earnings to a surviving spouse or one child, or two-thirds of
average weekly earnings for two or more eligible survivors up to the
current maximum rate of per week. The Defense
Base Act also incorporates the LHWCA's provision for payment of reasonable
funeral expenses not exceeding $3,000.00.
Permanent total disability and death benefits may be payable for life,
and are subject to annual cost of living adjustments. The LHWCA minimum
benefits rate, however, does not apply to DBA claims.
The injured employee is also entitled to medical treatment by a
physician of his/her choice, as the injury may require.
Are there any payment provisions that are specific to aliens and non-U.S. residents?
Yes. There are two such provisions:
Cases involving aliens and non-U.S. residents can be resolved by commuting benefits paid for permanent disability and death. In such cases, a one-time lump sum payment may be issued by the employer/carrier representing half of the present value of future compensation as determined by the OWCP district director. Medical benefits may not be commuted.
Death benefits may be paid only to the surviving spouse or child or children, or if no surviving spouse or child or children, to dependent parents.
How do I obtain medical treatment for my injuries?
If you need medical treatment for your work injury, ask your employer
to authorize treatment by a doctor of your choice. If it is an emergency or if
you are unable to contact your employer, go to the nearest hospital or
physician, but be sure to let your employer know as soon as possible.
How do I obtain compensation for my disability?
If you are disabled more than 3 days, contact your employer or the
insurance company for payment of compensation, which is payable 14 days after
your employer has knowledge of injury.
How do I give notice of my injury to my employer?
Give written notice of your injury to your employer on
Form LS-201 (Notice of Employee's Injury or Death)
within 30 days. Additional time is provided for certain hearing loss and
occupational disease claims.
How do I file a claim for compensation based on my injury?
File a written claim for compensation with the OWCP district office
having jurisdiction of your claim on Form LS-203
(Employee's Claim for Compensation) within one year after the date of
injury or last payment of compensation, whichever is later. The time for filing
claims in certain occupational disease cases has been extended to two years.
What should an employer do upon notice of an employee's injury?
The employer should notify its insurance carrier or, if it is self insured, its claims administrator, as soon as it has knowledge of an injury. Medical treatment, if needed, should be authorized immediately. An Employer's First Report of Injury, Form LS-202, must be filed with the OWCP district office having jurisdiction within 10 days of the injury if it causes loss of one or more work shifts. The Form LS-202 may be filed electronically. View information and instructions here. Additional forms and notices, as well as medical reports, should be filed with the OWCP as regulations require.