A lung condition known as pneumoconiosis, or "black lung," has been recognized as a consequence of working in coal mines. In an effort to compensate coal miners afflicted with this debilitating disease, the federal government and the Department of Labor have began providing the miners and their families with certain benefits meant to support those who can no longer work because of black lung disease.
Miners eligible for compensation under the Black Lung Benefits Act are either currently working or did formerly work in coal mines in the United States. Monthly payment amounts will depend on whether the miner is filing as single or with dependents, and the payments increase for each dependent up to three.
Once a claim is filed with the Department of Labor, a medical examination will be performed to determine the presence and severity of black lung disease. This exam will be paid for by the Department of Labor. If the miner is found to be suffering from black lung disease, then all medical expenses incurred because of the disease will be paid for minus a fee (though there will be no deductible or co-pay due). In order to qualify for medical benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act, the miner must be totally disabled due to his condition.
Payments to Dependents
Compensation can be paid to deceased miner's living spouses, orphaned children, any dependent parents, and the miner's brothers and sisters. Survivors who file a claim for a miner who died after Jan. 1, 1982, must provide proof that the miner died of black lung disease.
- winter coal image by Rick Smith from Fotolia.com