A black lung diagnosis is devastating to not only the victim but also their family members. The news creates an uncertain future not only professionally but also personally. While medical advances have been made over the years, the tragic outcome will, at some point, result in death.
Thankfully, the Black Lung Benefits Act provides monthly benefits for loved ones moving on with their lives following a tragic loss. Compensation may come from the coal mining company that employed the miner, provided that they meet certain mandates.
Enduring a complex application process
While some applicants automatically qualify for benefits, others must go through a lengthy and complex application process. A representative from the U.S. Department of Labor that focuses on black lung benefits or an employee from the Social Security Administration can provide assistance with filling out the following forms:
- The Survivor’s Claim for Benefits Under the Black Lung Act provides information about the deceased loved one, surviving spouse, and family members
- Employment History is a supplemental form that documents time spent working as a miner, names of the employers, and other work not involving the coal mining industry
Applicants may be called upon to provide more information to establish basic facts regarding qualifying for benefits. Documents can include the death certificate, marriage certificate, birth certificates of dependent children, and proof of their enrollment in schools.
Some claims require proving that the tragic loss was caused by or made worse by black lung disease. In those situations, all sources of medical evidence must include the location of treatment, names of doctors who provided care, and other sources of data on the miner’s health or death.
Once all the information is received, preliminary reviews begin to determine a claim’s approval or denial. In many cases, additional evidence is requested from both the family members and the coal company that employed the miner.
Applying for black lung benefits requires dealings with powerful government agencies. Taking on those entities may need the help of an experienced attorney devoted to protecting the rights of victims of this deadly disease and their loved ones.