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Suggested Action Plan (posted 2012):*

Below are issues that we would like publicly addressed and rectified. Our wish is that publicity can pressure the appropriate federal agencies to initiate change.

We feel we need:
  1. A bill of rights that ensures that Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) are treated with the respect and honor that they deserve by both the Peace Corps and the US Department of Labor (USDOL).
  2. A group health insurance plan for those who have become sick or injured while serving in the Peace Corps and cannot work full-time, or sufficient hours to obtain health insurance in America. Many of us who are too sick to work full-time on an ongoing basis are uninsurable in the United States unless we obtain Social Security Disability and Medicare, which renders us unable to work. Either the Peace Corps or the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) should be able to provide access to a group health insurance plan at a reasonable rate. While the rules of the USDOL entitle us to receive medical care for our Peace Corps incurred health issues, as deemed by the Peace Corps and the USDOL, it does not grant us health coverage for any other illnesses.
  3. Appointed specialists in the Peace Corps to help RPCVs complete appropriate forms to apply for USDOL medical claims help and/or disability and to help us navigate those systems for as long as our needs continue.
  4. An intermediary to work as a liaison between the USDOL and the Peace Corps appointed by the Peace Corps; and a trained contact person at the USDOL/OWCP to educate claims examiners in the processing of Peace Corps claims, which are very different in nature from other Federal claims. Additionally, Peace Corps needs to ensure that loss of wage earning capacity is appropriately determined by the US Department of Labor. Returned volunteers have been variably under- and over-paid and many have no idea if the calculations of current earnings are even correct. A liaison would also ensure that medical determinations are correctly managed.
  5. Proper oversight by Peace Corps of the USDOL's determination of disability income if one returns to work part-time, but is limited in the amount of work one can perform due to health issues. The Shadrick formula is vaguely defined and not always properly implemented. Joint communication between the Peace Corp and the USDOL must occur in these cases.
  6. A safety net with intervention by Peace Corps if RPCVs are inadvertently dropped out of the USDOL system, as has occurred in some cases. Some have been left without income or medical coverage for varying periods up to two years, as they struggled to re-instate claims.
  7. Forms that adequately address our needs and for the US Department of Labor, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (USDOL/OWCP) to properly assess the medical needs of RPCVs, whose conditions may be very different from those with which the agency typically deals.
  8. Accuracy and timeliness with which the USDOL/OWCP adjudicates claims and payments that are made to claimants and their medical providers
  9. Proper oversight of Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), a subsidiary of the Xerox Corporation responsible for processing our phone calls and pre-authorizing our medical claims paperwork, by the USDOL.
  10. An increase in the GS level for Peace Corps Volunteers that is fair and just and represents our true value. In other words, we feel a renegotiation of "income" on which disability for RPCVs is based must be increased. Although Peace Corps Volunteers are given a "stipend" while serving overseas, their "value" is placed at an "earning potential" of a GS-7, step 1 level estimated in 2011 dollars valued at $33,979. If one is deemed fully disabled and completely unable to work, a single RPCV in 2011 is entitled to 66 2/3% of that amount or $22,653. Most RPCVs have an earning potential greater than this and regardless, it is difficult to live on $22,653. If one tries to return to part-time work and earns even a few dollars more than this, the RPCV is entitled to no additional compensation. Therefore, there is little incentive to return to partial employment if one is still dealing with health issues.
  11. A review of the relationship between the Peace Corps Office of Medical Services, US Department of Labor/Office of Workers' Compensation and Affiliated Computer Service, and whether those relationship are to the benefit or detriment of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.

* Our Action Plan addresses issues that pertain to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who incur acute or chronic illnesses and injuries. Our Plan does not address issues directly related to sexual assault or other violent actions, although there may be some may overlap for some RPCVs. The latter are addressed by First Response Action and are specifically addressed in the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011.


 

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