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Tillman & Associates, Attorneys at Law

Coal miners getting easier access to benefits

Georgia residents who work in coal mines may find it easier to get benefits as a result of changes to federal black lung rules recently announced by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Program. According to the announcement, there will be two revisions made to the Black Lung Benefits Act of 2010 that will reinstate two provisions that were eliminated from the law in 1981.

One of the changes will provide easy access to benefits for the families of those who suffered workplace injuries as a result of working in a coal mine. Now, benefits will automatically transfer to eligible survivors after someone passes away. The other change removes the burden of proof from a victim of pneumoconiosis, more commonly known as black lung disease. Previously, those permanently disabled due to black lung disease had to prove it was due to working in a coal mine. Current rules now make an automatic assumption for individuals who suffer from a totally disabling respiratory impairment and worked in a coal mine for at least 15 years.

There have also been a number of smaller changes that eliminated provisions considered to be unnecessary or obsolete. Black lung disease, caused by inhaling coal dust, was thought to have been eradicated but has been reappearing recently.

When someone has been injured on a job or as a result of unsafe working conditions, he or she may be eligible for workers' compensation. An attorney with experience in workers' compensation benefits may be able to explain the procedure to a client. Such an attorney may also be able to assist in the preparation of documents and other materials that may be required to file a claim.

Source: The Register Herald, "Federal rule changes will help black lung victims", September 25, 2013

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