Federal rule changes to help black lung victims - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Federal rule changes to help black lung victims

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Changes to federal black lung rules are expected to make it easier for coal miners and their families to obtain benefits.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Program on Wednesday announced a final rule that implements amendments to the 2010 Black Lung Benefits Act.

The amendments sponsored by the late U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd reinstate two provisions that were eliminated in 1981.

After 1982, survivors of a coal miner totally disabled due to black lung had to prove the disease caused the miner's death. One amendment makes that an automatic assumption for those who worked in coal mines for at least 15 years and suffered a totally disabling respiratory impairment.

The other amendment automatically transfers black lung benefits from the late recipient to eligible survivors.

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