DOL Assumes Responsibility for Energy Workers' Compensation Program

The Department of Labor (DOL) has assumed responsibility for administration of the new Part E of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA), under legislation sponsored by Senator Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) that was signed into law by President George W. Bush on Oct. 29.

The program provides federal benefits to Department of Energy (DOE) contractor and subcontractor employees (or their eligible survivors) for occupational illnesses caused by exposure to toxic substances while working at a DOE facility. The new law also provides additional compensation for uranium workers covered by the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). In addition to managing Part E of the EEOICPA, the department also administers Part B, which provides lump sum compensation and payment of medical expenses for current and former DOE employees who became ill as a result of their exposure to radiation, beryllium or silica.

"This administration has always been committed to helping those workers who were harmed in service to our country and wanted to ensure that the new program would be one that would serve workers well," said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "The Department of Labor has a record of accomplishment with this program and we intend to build upon that. The president has asked and we are committed to ensuring that qualified workers and their families get payments as soon as possible."

The new law provides compensation and medical benefits for DOE contractor and subcontractor employees whose illnesses were caused by exposure to any toxic substance while working at a DOE facility. Qualified survivors are the spouse of the employee and children who were either under the age of 18, full time students under the age of 23, or any age and incapable of self support at the time of the employee's death. The passage of this legislation means some individuals who have received payments under the existing Part B may be eligible for a new federal payment if qualified under Part E.

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