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What is the Defense Base Act?

On Behalf of | Oct 3, 2022 | Admiralty And Maritime Law

If you work overseas for a government contractor or subcontractor, the Defense Base Act covers you in the event you become injured.

The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, explains that your DBA benefits apply to any injury you sustain, whether or not it occurs during your normal work hours.

Applicable employees

Specifically, the DBA covers you if you work overseas for any of the following:

         A private employer on a military base

         A government agency that provides construction services related to U.S. national defense or war activities

         An agency that sells or otherwise provides military equipment, materials or services to U.S. allies

         An agency, such as the USO, that provides services to members of the U.S. Armed Forces

DBA benefits

As a form of workers’ compensation, DBA benefits and those covered by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act are identical. In other words, if you become injured during the course of your employment, your DBA benefits will cover your medical costs and pay for your disability. You can seek medical treatment and care from the physician of your choice.

In terms of disability, DBA currently pays either $1,030.78 or two-thirds of your average weekly earnings, whichever is less, if you become totally disabled.

If the worst happens and you die as a result of your injuries, DBA will pay half of your average weekly earnings to your surviving spouse or child, or two-thirds of them if you have two or more survivors, again up to the current maximum.

Keep in mind that your total disability benefit may well continue for the rest of your life and increase each year according to the cost of living index. The same applies to death benefits to your survivor or survivors.


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