Defense Base Act (DBA)

Defense Base Act (DBA)

The Defense Base Act (DBA) provides protections for civilians injured while working at an overseas United States military installation. Congress initially adopted the DBA in 1941 in order to cover federal workers stationed at overseas military bases. Subsequent changes increased the DBA’s protections to include civilian contractors who complete or further missions that were historically the responsibility of the military.

Contractors Who Qualify for DBA Benefits

The following is a non-exhaustive list of individuals who may be covered under the DBA.

  • Workers of private entities/subcontractors that are contracted to work on U.S. military bases or lands used by our government for military purposes
  • Workers of private entities/subcontractors that are contracted under public work contracts with any U.S. government agency, including contracts related to national defense or war operations
  • Workers of private entities/subcontractors that are contracted under Foreign Assistance Act contracts approved and funded by the U.S. government
  • Workers of U.S. companies of private entities/subcontractors that are contracted to provide services for the benefit of the military personnel

Criteria for Covered Injuries By DBA

Covered claims can include an injury sustained during a training exercise while deployed, an injury that occurred during training in preparation for deployment, an accident that occurred during transport or delivery, inhaling toxic carcinogenic fumes from burn pits, or an injury that occurred while engaged in military action.

Qualifying workers who sustain an injury while on duty must validate their claim.  The reviewing official will determine the validity pursuant to the following criteria:

  • Whether the injury was caused by a willful act;
  • Whether it occurred as a result of the job duties; and,
  • How immediately treatment was sought.

Defense Base Act Benefits and Classifications

You do not need to be a United States citizen to qualify for benefits pursuant to the DBA.  If you qualify for DBA benefits, you may be entitled to the following:

  • Medical treatment
  • Loss of earnings compensation
  • Disability compensation
  • Death benefits
  • Vocational rehabilitation

If your injury is serious enough, you may be entitled to four classes of disability compensation:

  • Temporary total
  • Temporary partial
  • Permanent total
  • Permanent partial disability

Permanent total disability means your loss of earnings compensation continues, as adjusted for inflation from year to year.  Permanent partial disability is based upon your actual wage loss and the percent of loss of use of a specified body part or disfigurement, as set by a schedule.  Once that amount is set, you cannot receive an increase for a cost of living increase or inflation.

When a worker perishes in the scope of their employment, death benefits are also available and calculated based on information about the deceased family’s dependents. Funeral expenses can also be paid up to $3000.