Injured American Airlines Flight Attendants

Most people navigating the workers’ compensation and disability benefits application processes come to us with questions and confusion. Here, we share some of the questions that we answer most about the disability and workers’ compensation application and appeals processes. If you have a question for us, check out this page to see if we have answered this question for others! 

  • Page 1
  • I am a retired airline employee collecting my PBGC pension and paying for COBRA benefits. Do I have to pay my entire premium?

                No. For all American Airlines and US Airways flight attendants and other eligible airline personel between the ages of 55 and 65 years old who are collecting their pensions through the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC), they can take advantage of the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC), which pays 72.5 percent of qualified health insurance premiums for eligible individuals and their families. 

                This is how it works.  If you are collecting your PBGC pension and you are paying premiums for your health insurance coverage, you will be required to pay 27.5 percent of the premium and the IRS will give you a tax credit equal to 72.5 percent of the cost of your premiums.  If, for example, your health insurance premiums are $20,000.00 a year, you would get an IRS tax credit equal to $14,500.00, which is deducted dollar for dollar from any federal taxes you owe.  

                The credit can be taken only if you are receiving your PBGC pension or you are a qualifying family member of a PBGC pension payee who passed away or finalized a divorce with you.  

                The health insurance plans that qualify for the HCTC include coverage under a COBRA continuation provision, coverage under a group health plan available through the employment of your spouse, coverage obtained in the non-group (individual) health insurance market other than coverage offered through the health insurance marketplace, and coverage under certain state-qualified health plans established prior to January 1, 2014.  It does not include any insurance marketplace coverage.  

                As a practical matter, this means that flight attendants who are receiving COBRA coverage and are collecting their PBGC pensions may take advantage of this credit for as long as they are receiving COBRA coverage.  They may be able to do so after COBRA expires, but only if they are then covered under a qualifying health insurance plan for the HCTC. For more information concerning the health coverage tax credit, click here.  

  • May American Airlines Flight Attendants be disciplined for time lost from work due to a work injury (OJI)?

    Answer:    No.  Section 27 (M) of your contract provides that a "Flight Attendant who becomes ill or injured as a result of an occupational incident shall not be charged a sick leave occurrence for absences related to the occupational illness or injury."

  • What if I am required to attend an Independent Medical Evaluation in Pennsylvania and I live far away?

    American Airlines must furnish you with round-trip positive-space transportation and transportation from the airport to the location of the healthcare provider and return.  You are also entitled to lodging, if necessary.

    For more information for injured American Airlines flight attendants, including company forms, contract provisions, and union guides, click here

  • May I work anywhere other than American Airlines while out in connection with a work-related injury or illness?

    You are not entitled to work or continue to work a second job while out in connection with a work injury or illness unless you receive written permission from the company.  The company is not permitted to deny such a request unreasonably.  Keep in mind that if you have a second job while working as a flight attendant, the wages from that job are included in calculating your average weekly wage and compensation benefits.  Furthermore, all employers and their workers' compensation insurance companies are entitled to know about any wages you receive while disabled from a work injury.

    For more information for injured American Airlines flight attendants, including company forms, contract provisions, and union guides, click here

  • What obligation do I have with respect to medical examinations requested by American Airlines?

    The Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act requires you to attend Independent Medical Evaluations up to two times per year.  Independent Medical Evaluations are not the same as treating with the company doctor. 

    Section 28 of you’re the Association of Professional Flight Attendants-APFA American Airlines agreement covers medical examinations where the company "determines that reasonable grounds exist to establish that a flight attendant's physical or mental health condition may impair the performance of her/his normal duties as a flight attendant."  Though this provision requires these examinations to take place in the metropolitan area in which the flight attendant resides unless the company is unable to locate a healthcare provider to conduct such examination, The company takes the position that this provision does not apply to Independent Medical Evaluations requested in connection with a work injury.

    For more information for injured American Airlines flight attendants, including company forms, contract provisions, and union guides, click here

  • Must I work light duty to qualify for salary continuance?

    No.  American Airlines flight attendants are not required to work light duty to qualify for salary continuance.

    For more information for injured American Airlines flight attendants, including company forms, contract provisions, and union guides, click here

  • Are there situations in which I am entitled to receive salary continuation for more than 6 months?

    Yes.  The periods in which you are entitled to receive salary continuation is extended to 36 months if you suffer your injury because of an aircraft accident and your injury:

                1.         Requires hospitalization of more than 48 hours commencing within 7 days from the date that the injury occurred;

                2.         Results in a fracture of any bone except simple fractures of fingers, toes or nose;

                3.         Causes severe hemorrhages, nerve, muscle or tendon damage;

                4.         Involves any internal organs; or

                5.         Includes second or third degree burns or any burns affecting more than 5 percent of the body surface.  The term "aircraft accident" means "an occupational occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and all such persons have disembarked, and in which any person suffers death wherein which the aircraft receives substantial damage."

    Your contract defines substantial damage in accordance with a definition provided by the National Transportation Safety Board.  According to the NTSB, substantial damage means "damage or failure which adversely affects the structural strength, performance, or flight characteristics of the aircraft, and which would normally require major repair or replacement of the affected component.  Engine failure or damage limited to an engine if only one engine fails or is damaged, bent fairings or cowling, dented skin, small punctured holes in the skin or fabric, ground damage to rotor or propeller blades, and damage to landing gear, wheels, tires, flaps, engine accessories, brakes, or wing tips are not considered 'substantial damage.'"

    For more information for injured American Airlines flight attendants, including company forms, contract provisions, and union guides, click here

  • May I use sick or vacation pay while I am out for my work injury?

    Yes.  If you check Section 27 of your American Airlines union contract, you are entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits in accordance with individual state laws.  In Pennsylvania, you have to be disabled for 7 days or more to receive workers' compensation benefits.  To receive benefits for the first 7 days, you must be disabled for 2 weeks or more.  If your claim is denied, you use your accrued sick leave and scheduled vacation time.  If you receive retroactive payments of workers' compensation benefits, you are required to reimburse the company for sick leave and vacation pay and your sick leave and vacation banks will be credited. 

    For more information for injured American Airlines flight attendants, including company forms, contract provisions, and union guides, click here

  • Am I entitled to any benefits in addition to workers' compensation benefits?

    Yes.  The American Airlines APFA contract provides that you are entitled to receive salary continuation until you are released for duty for a period of up to six months.  To be eligible for salary continuation, you must select a physician from the preferred provider network unless your primary residence is more than 45 miles from the nearest preferred provider network provider.

    For more information for injured American Airlines flight attendants, including company forms, contract provisions, and union guides, click here

  • What state governs my entitlement to workers' compensation benefits?

    You may seek to recovery benefits in the state in which the injury occurred or the state where you are based.  It sometimes is not easy to figure out exactly where an injury occurred because so many injuries occur in flight. If you are a Philadelphia-based American Airlines flight attendant, you may elect to receive benefits under Pennsylvania law. 

    For more information for injured American Airlines flight attendants, including company forms, contract provisions, and union guides, click here