The Black Lung Benefits Act

The Black Lung Benefits Act is a federal law that provides compensation to miners who are suffering from "black lung disease" (also called pneumoconiosis), and to their family members in some cases.

The Black Lung Benefits Act was passed by Congress in 1977, and is codified under federal law at 30 U.S.C. section 901 et seq. The Act establishes a fund that gives monthly payments to coal miners who have been totally disabled because of black lung disease. The Act also provides for monthly payments to surviving family members of miners who have died from pneumoconiosis, including spouses, children, dependent parents, and other relatives who relied on the miner's financial support.

Monthly benefits are based on a set percentage of the federal salary of a "GS-2, step 1" federal employee.

Payment of medical benefits, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, is limited to medical treatment of health conditions that are directly related to black lung disease, and these medical benefits are only available to "totally disabled" former miners. Coverage includes most medical expenses, including surgical procedures, nursing care, rehabilitation services, and prescription medication.

The Act is administered by the federal Office of Workers' Compensation Program, and the fund derives from payments that come from coal mine operators nationwide, who are required to pay an excise tax on all coal that is sold. Proceeds from that tax are used to finance the fund.

Monthly benefits may be reduced if the recipient is also receiving pneumoconiosis-related benefits under state workers' compensation laws.

Learn more about the Black Lung Benefits Act and coal mine workers' rights on the U.S. Department of Labor's Division of Coal Mine Workers' Compensation Home Page.

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