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UPDATED: Federal compensation for atomic workers

Defens

Super Moderator
I just found out last week that I may qualify for a Federal compensation program for workers that were involved in atomic weapons construction or testing, or those that have been involved in the cleanup of Department of Energy sites where atomic weapons work was carried out.

In a nutshell, Congress enacted legislation a few years ago to compensate workers who contracted cancer or a few other select illnesses, after work on DOE sites. The legislation was initially intended to compensate those directly involved in arms manufacture or testing during WWII and the Cold War, but has since been expanded to include those who have been involved in cleaning up the monumental environmental mess left behind.

The standard of admission to qualify for the program is very low - must demonstrate a 50/50 chance that you MAY have been exposed to radiation or chemicals that MAY have contributed to your illness. Pretty low bar, compared to the burden of proof carried in a typical civil tort suit.

If qualified, workers receive $150K lump payment settlement, and lifetime medical care for the qualified disease (i.e., .gov will pay medical expenses for your cancer treatments, but not for unrelated medical expenses).

More info:

The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICP) began on July 31, 2001 with the Department of Labor’s implementation of Part B; Part E implementation began on October 28, 2004. The mission of the program is to provide lump-sum compensation and health benefits to eligible Department of Energy nuclear weapons workers (including employees, former employees, contractors and subcontractors) and lump-sum compensation to certain survivors if the worker is deceased. When you apply for either Part B and/or Part E we will collect medical, employment, and other information from you and make a decision about whether or not you qualify for compensation and benefits.

Start with this website: http://www.dol.gov/owcp/energy/index.htm
Also good info here: http://www.dol.gov/compliance/laws/comp-energy.htm#etools
 

Defens

Super Moderator
Out of the blue, I received a call yesterday from the Department of Labor. It seems that a couple of things have happened fairly recently that changed my status as a possible beneficiary of this program. It might also qualify some of you folks here on the forum, which is why I'm posting this update. First, a bit of explanation.

The program outlined above has two ways that you can be compensated for work at a former atomic energy (weapons) site. The first, and most difficult, is to show proof (as explained above) that you contracted a qualified disease through exposure to chemicals at one of the many DOE/DOD/defense contractor sites. NIOSH either looks at actual, historical exposure data or simulates your possible exposure, and the program rules on whether you are likely to have received enough exposure to fit the qualifications outlined in the first post.

I went through that process, six years ago, and my claim was denied.

There's another way to qualify though. If you worked for 250 days or more at one of the specific, named facilities on a list of sites, during a certain time period, AND you contracted your disease some specified time later, you automatically qualify for benefits. IF you worked at one of these specifically listed sites, you're included in what is called a "Special Exposure Cohort." The government doesn't calculate any potential exposure - the assumption is just made that your disease was caused by your employment at one of these sites.

In 2010, only three sites were on the list. I had worked at one of them, but only for 20 days or so. That exposure was insufficient to qualify.

But - in 2012, a whole slew of sites was added to the list. Including a site in Eastern Washington (Hanford) where I worked for way over the requisite 250 days. Further, the case worker who called me, said that they had received additional information about my case that confirmed my employment there. As a result, he reopened my case and is now actively working to push for benefits.

My purpose in dredging up this old thread isn't to cheer about possibly getting the benefits, but to inform those who may have tried (and were denied) before, or those new to the forum and not familiar with the program, that it is now MUCH easier to qualify for the benefits. If you've worked either for a defense contractor or for (as I did) an environmental consulting firm, and have worked at any of a long list of former Cold War nuclear sites (mining, refining, weapons production, storage, or testing) you may be eligible for benefits. It isn't that hard to apply, and I recommend checking it out.

Start here for general information: https://www.dol.gov/owcp/energy/
For the long list of facilities with Special Exposure Cohorts, view this link: https://www.dol.gov/owcp/energy/regs/compliance/law/SEC-Employees.htm

Good luck!

Mike
 
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andym

Super Moderator
That's a lot of facilities, over a long time period. My father was a nuclear physicist at Brookhaven for decades. He has never gotten cancer but it seems like this could cover a lot of people who are now elderly and may well have cancer. It will be interesting to see how many people qualify based on the other requirements.

I gave a lecture at Hanford once. Is that enough? More to the point, I wonder how many days I spent at Brookhaven as a kid. We had friends, with kids, who lived on site for months to years. But maybe the housing was far enough away from the radiation sites.
 

Defens

Super Moderator
That's a lot of facilities, over a long time period. My father was a nuclear physicist at Brookhaven for decades. He has never gotten cancer but it seems like this could cover a lot of people who are now elderly and may well have cancer. It will be interesting to see how many people qualify based on the other requirements.

I gave a lecture at Hanford once. Is that enough? More to the point, I wonder how many days I spent at Brookhaven as a kid. We had friends, with kids, who lived on site for months to years. But maybe the housing was far enough away from the radiation sites.
Just for further clarification - cancer is but one of several diseases that is covered by these benefits. AND, the covered worker does NOT need to be alive for dependents (down to the grandchildren level) to file a claim.

Regarding the lecture - was it a snappy, lively lecture Andy? Or was it a long and tedious one that potentially may have lasted 250 days in virtual time! :)
 
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andym

Super Moderator
Regarding the lecture - was it a snappy, lively lecture Andy? Or was it a long and tedious one that potentially may have lasted 250 days in virtual time! :)
It was a distinguished lecture. It was actually called that. Although the best part was getting flown in a small plane between Hanford and Eastern Washington Univ, where I also gave it. However, I can't remember the topic. Apparently I've been distinguished so long that my memory is failing!
 

Defens

Super Moderator
An update on this: the Seattle claims examiner and director have recommended that my claim be approved. It now goes to the final adjudication board for some verification, prior to giving final approval. It appears that I'll be getting the settlement.

I've turned this thread into a sticky, as it could be useful for folks new to this forum that may potentially qualify for the benefit. If you worked at any of a few dozen DOE facilities for 250 days of more, during certain qualifying periods, and have a qualified cancer (lymphoma being one of them) and meet some other qualifications, you may also be eligible.
 
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