Frequently Asked Questions

We've created an easy-to-read library of answers to commonly asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

The DBA provides disability compensation and medical benefits to employees and death benefits to eligible survivors of employees of U.S. government contractors who perform work overseas.

The DBA covers employees of all nationalities engaged in any of these employment activities:


Work for private employers on U.S. military bases or on any lands used by the U.S. for military purposes outside the U.S.


Work on public work contracts with any U.S. government agency


Work on contracts approved and funded by the U.S. under the Foreign Assistance Act (if outside of the United States)


Work for American employers providing welfare or similar services outside the United States for the benefit of the Armed Services


Any injury or death occurring to any such employee during transportation to or from the place of employment

The DBA covers employment under a contract entered into with the United States where such work is to be performed outside the continental United States for the purpose of public work. The Department of Labor excludes work performed pursuant to a grant because Congress has enacted statutes to distinguish grants from contracts. 

The Defense Base Act provides disability and medical benefits to covered employees injured in the course of or arising from employment and death benefits to eligible survivors of employees killed in the course of employment or who died of causes arising from employment. 

The DBA requires every employer either to secure insurance for the payment of workers' compensation benefits or to be permissibly self-insured. If a subcontractor fails to secure the payment of compensation, the contractor will be liable and will be required to secure the payment of such benefits.

Yes. Benefits under the DBA are payable regardless of nationality. Therefore, employers should secure insurance coverage for all of their employees working outside the United States under a government contract.

An employer who fails to secure the payment of compensation through an insurance carrier or to obtain authorization to be self-insured may face criminal prosecution and be subject to imprisonment and/or fines.

The Secretary of Labor may waive application of the Defense Base Act with respect to any contract, work location, or class of employees upon the request of the head of any department or other agency of the United States. 

Yes. There is no prohibition against providing DBA coverage for waived employees.