Press Release

Appalachian senators introduce bill to support families of deceased miners

July 20, 2023

Dan Radmacher, Media Specialist, (540) 798-6683,
Quenton King, Federal Legislative Specialist, (304) 579-7366,
Rebecca Shelton, Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center,

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Sens. Mark Warner (VA), Tim Kaine (VA), Joe Manchin (WV), Sherrod Brown (OH), Bob Casey (PA) and John Fetterman (PA) introduced legislation to ease the process for families of deceased miners to apply for black lung benefits. Surviving dependents can apply to receive black lung benefits after a miner’s death, but filing for benefits is complex and burdensome.

The Relief for Survivors of Miners Act of 2023 will make changes to the black lung benefits process for families and give them a fairer chance at receiving benefits. To further increase access to benefits and representation in the process, the bill adjusts the reimbursement system for some legal and medical expenses so that a portion of these reimbursements are made more immediately after the Department of Labor approves a claim.

“As Appalachia experiences a resurgence in black lung disease, the process for accessing the crucial benefits promised to miners and their families remains excruciatingly difficult,” said Quenton King, Federal Legislative Specialist for Appalachian Voices. “We applaud Sen. Warner’s leadership to help ensure that the families of miners who have died from black lung can still access those benefits.”

“In addition to the many emotional and legal challenges a family is faced with when a loved one passes away, widows and survivors of miners who die from black lung disease are also faced with the burden of continuing to navigate the complicated and stressful black lung benefits process,” said Rebecca Shelton, Director of Policy for Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center. “This bill will help make the claims process more accessible to these families, and we’re grateful for Sen. Warner’s leadership on this issue.”

“When a miner dies, their families are left not only grieving and planning a funeral, but they also often lose the benefits they relied on for groceries and paying the bills,” said Vonda Robinson, Vice President of the National Black Lung Association. “The Relief for Survivors of Miners Act will make their lives a little easier, and help to make sure that families are not left in poverty after their loved ones die.”


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