In 2021, the Government Accountability Office found big problems with the Labor Department’s current rules because they do not require sufficient collateral to cover both current and future black lung liabilities.
Congress stated clearly that coal operators, instead of taxpayers, would shoulder the cost of black lung when it set up the Black Lung Trust Fund. The trust fund was intended to be a backstop for miners rather than a means for coal operators to underinsure their liabilities.
At its core, this is the age-old story of corporate greed whereby rapacious mine operators, who have subjected generations of miners to disabling and fatal black lung disease, managed to transfer their responsibility to pay black lung benefits to suffering coal miners from their corporate coffers to the taxpayer’s pockets.
Silica dust is behind a dramatic increase in the number of miners becoming ill with the most severe form of black lung disease.
A study by the Government Accountability Office looking at the adequacy of current black lung benefits for miners and their families requested by U.S. senators should bolster ongoing efforts to improve those benefits.
Miners with black lung disease face a difficult process to obtain modest benefits, as do their widows. Two bills in Congress aim to help miners with the disease and their bereaved families, including by tying benefit levels to inflation.
Kathryn South’s husband, Mike South, was diagnosed with black lung disease at age 35. As they grappled with his disease, the couple also navigated the arduous legal process to obtain federal black lung benefits, a fight that Kathryn continued even after Mike’s passing.
Miners with black lung and their advocates scored a huge victory in the recently signed Inflation Reduction Act, which permanently extended the black lung excise tax that supports the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.
Amid an ongoing surge in severe black lung disease among coal miners, federal lawmakers have introduced a number of bills aimed at assisting affected miners and their families. The Inflation Reduction Act shored up funding for benefits, and advocates are pushing for additional measures.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 13, 2022 Contact: Chelsea Barnes, 614-205-6424, firstname.lastname@example.org Rebecca Shelton, 859-893-0543, email@example.com Today, five U.S. senators introduced the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act aimed at improving the benefits process for disabled coal miners and their families. The…