Workers’ Compensation: Black Lung Disease

Black lung is a disease that instantly invokes images of coal working, black dust and hard work. Unfortunately, the reason that black lung evokes such powerful imagery is because it is a serious respiratory disease that has plagued the mining industry since the first shaft was dug. Black lung is a respiratory illness that impairs the ability to breathe; it can become so serious that coal workers are unable to continue working.

In response to this, Congress passed the Black Lung Benefits Act to help compensate coal miners that succumb to this disease that can be a byproduct of working in coal mines. The very air that the miners inhale causes this disease.

The BLBA provides monthly benefits to coal workers who are unable to work due to black lung disease. It provides two possible avenues for compensation, either their employer or from the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.

Coal miners must complete several application forms and submit proof of coal mining employment to access these benefits. Once your background is confirmed, you will be contacted by a doctor who will evaluate your health. Remember you must be unable to work, so the purpose of this meeting is to confirm that fact. After the doctor confirms the status of your health, your application will be either approved or denied.

Following that initial review, you will then be given a final decision. If your claim is denied, there are several legal options to pursue. The application process can become complicated fairly quickly so it may be a good idea to contact a workers’ compensation attorney to explain the process in greater detail.

Black lung, despite strides in safety and technology, remains the scourge that stalks the coal mining industry. The purpose of the BLBA is to mitigate some of the effects of working in the coal mining industry. The application and approval process may seem daunting. However, if you are suffering from black lung, then you deserve compensation. Don’t let bureaucracy stop you from doing what’s right for you and your family.

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