Publication Date



[Excerpt] The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) is a federal workers’ compensation program that covers certain private-sector maritime workers. Firms that employ these workers are required to purchase workers’ compensation or self-insure and are responsible for providing medical and disability benefits to covered workers who are injured or become ill on the job and survivors benefits to the families of covered workers who die on the job. More than $980 million in LHWCA benefits are paid each year. The LHWCA is administered by the Department of Labor (DOL) and all benefit costs are paid by employers and their insurance carriers.

Congress has extended the provisions of the LHWCA to cover workers outside of the maritime industry, such as overseas government contractors and civilian employees of military post exchanges. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), Congress added to the list of workers exempted from the LHWCA persons who repair recreational vessels of any size.

The LHWCA pays for all medical care associated with a covered injury or illness. Disability benefits are based on a worker’s pre-injury wage, and, unlike comparable state workers’ compensation benefits, are adjusted annually to reflect national wage growth.


Suggested Citation

Szymendera, S. (2010). The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA): Overview of workers’ compensation for certain private-sector maritime workers [Electronic version]. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.