Jessica Lilly Published

New Bill Could Help Black Lung Widows/Survivors

Vickie Salyers lost her husband in 2013. He suffered from black lung.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin announced legislation meant to help survivors of miners who died after suffering from black lung.

According to a news release, the Relief for Survivors of Miners Act would ease the “bureaucratic proof requirements” currently needed in order to secure benefits.

Survivors of miners with black lung are entitled to monthly benefits. The installments were part of the Black Lung Benefits Act which passed in 1972. The money comes from coal companies or the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.

But currently, survivors must prove their loved one died from black lung. There are frequent complications that come from black lung that ultimately bring miners to the end of their life so proving this can be difficult.

The bill focuses on making it easier for survivors to access those benefits by allowing proof of disability if they cannot prove the miner’s death was due to or hastened by black lung.

If passed, miners and their families would also have better access to legal representation for such cases. The bill would also establish a payment program for attorneys’ fees and other medical expenses incurred while establishing the claimant’s case. The program would be to prevent survivors of miners from being turned away because of income.