Federal rule changes to help black lung victims - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Federal rule changes to help black lung victims

Posted: Updated:
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • UPDATE: All Northbound lanes open on I-77 at East River Mountain Tunnel

    UPDATE: All Northbound lanes open on I-77 at East River Mountain Tunnel

    Saturday, July 26 2014 6:42 PM EDT2014-07-26 22:42:00 GMT
    All northbound lanes are back open after a tractor trailer that caught fire inside the East River Mountain Tunnel on Friday. It happened in the northbound lanes of the tunnel that divides Mercer and Bland around 2:00 Friday afternoon.
    All northbound lanes are back open after a tractor trailer that caught fire inside the East River Mountain Tunnel on Friday. It happened in the northbound lanes of the tunnel that divides Mercer and Bland around 2:00 Friday afternoon.
  • Sistersville Woman Crowned Mrs. West Virginia, Will Compete for National Title

    Sistersville Woman Crowned Mrs. West Virginia, Will Compete for National Title

    Tuesday, July 15 2014 4:17 AM EDT2014-07-15 08:17:38 GMT
    A Sistersville mother, wife, and soon-to-be teacher, holds another very impressive title as she gets ready to take on the competition on a national stage.Mrs. West Virginia, Melissa Smith, will compete for the title of "Mrs.United States," in September. Smith travels throughout the state right now helping to push her platform. "Right now, I'm very focused on improving literacy education. I'm going to be an elementary school teacher and I have been traveling throughout West Virginia reading to...
    A Sistersville mother, wife, and soon-to-be teacher, holds another very impressive title as she gets ready to take on the competition on a national stage.Mrs. West Virginia, Melissa Smith, will compete for the title of "Mrs.United States," in September. Smith travels throughout the state right now helping to push her platform. "Right now, I'm very focused on improving literacy education. I'm going to be an elementary school teacher and I have been traveling throughout West Virginia reading to...
  • Federal judge in Martinsburg, West Virginia, sends 10 to prison for violating probation

    Federal judge in Martinsburg, West Virginia, sends 10 to prison for violating probation

    Sunday, July 6 2014 11:00 AM EDT2014-07-06 15:00:12 GMT
    Nine Martinsburg, West Virginia, residents and another from Keyser were sentenced to federal prison for breaking the law while they were on supervised release or probation.
    Nine Martinsburg, West Virginia, residents and another from Keyser were sentenced to federal prison for breaking the law while they were on supervised release or probation.

CHARLESTON, WV (AP) — Changes to federal black lung rules are expected to make it easier for coal miners and their families to obtain benefits.

A final rule announced Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Program implements two amendments to the 2010 Black Lung Benefits Act.

The changes, called the Byrd Amendments, reinstate two provisions that were eliminated in 1981. They were sponsored by the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-.W.Va.

After 1982, survivors of a coal miner totally disabled due to pneumoconiosis — commonly referred to as black lung disease — to prove the disease caused the miner's death. One amendment makes that an automatic assumption for those who worked in coal mines for at least 15 years and suffered a totally disabling respiratory impairment.

The other amendment automatically transfers black lung benefits from the late recipient to eligible survivors.

The rule also eliminates several unnecessary or obsolete provisions.

Claims filed on or after March 23, 2010, and claims dating to Jan. 1, 2005, are affected by the rule.

"Many miners disabled by black lung disease and their survivors will receive critical benefits as a result of the Byrd Amendments," Gary A. Steinberg, acting director of OWCP, said in a news release. "The final rules implementing these vital provisions assist the coal-mining community by clarifying how the amendments operate."

Black lung is caused by inhaling coal dust. The disease was once thought defeated but has been reappearing among younger miners in recent years. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration's report on the Upper Big Branch mine disaster in West Virginia, for example, found that at least 17 of the 29 miners killed had black lung.

In fiscal 2012, 549,619 black lung claims were filed nationwide and payouts topped $210 million, according to the Labor Department's website.

 

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.