9/25/2013 1:25 PM
by Nadine Grimley
CHARLESTON - Changes to federal black lung rules are expected to make it easier for coal miners and their families to receive benefits.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers Compensation Program announced a final rule that implemented amendments to the 2010 Black Lung Benefits Act. The amendments sponsored by the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd reinstated two provisions that were eliminated in 1981.
After 1982, survivors of coal miners totally disabled due to black lung had to prove the disease caused the miner's death. One amendment made that an automatic assumption for those who worked in coal mines for at least 15 years and suffered from a disabling respiratory impairment.
The other transferred black lung benefits from the late recipient to eligible survivor.