Compensation for Black Lung Claims

The Black Lung Benefits Act covers total disability claims of United States' miners suffering from pneumoconiosis (aka black lung disease), which was contracted due to their employment. Such miners are awarded monthly cash benefits as well as medical benefits. Payments to dependent survivors are also provided for in the Act and include the surviving spouse, children, and dependent parents and siblings.

The issue of causation is elemental to a miner's claim and requires proof linking the black lung disease to the miner's employment. Once a claim is filed, a complete history of the miner's employment is obtained and a pulmonary evaluation of the miner is conducted. The last operator for whom the miner worked for a full year is usually responsible for the payment of benefits. Such operator can submit rebuttal evidence indicating that it is not the responsible operator. Thereafter, a decision on the claim is generally rendered with a hearing and review process available to the parties. In the event that the operator is no longer in business, the miner's benefits are paid out of the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.

Pursuant to the Act, each coal mine operator must be either self-insured or secure an insurance policy to cover its benefits liability. An operator's failure to comply with the insurance requirements can result in a penalty being assessed and certain corporate officers may also be held responsible for the payment of benefits.