EEOICPA BULLETIN NO.03-28
Issue Date: June 19, 2003
Effective Date: June 19, 2003
Expiration Date: June 19, 2004
NOTE: This bulletin replaces Bulletin 02-22, Suspension Code for Marshall Islands Cases
Subject: EEOICPA Coverage of Citizens of the Marshall Islands
Background: DEEOIC has received claims for compensation under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA or Act) from citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). These claims are based on employment related exposure arising from the United States' nuclear weapons testing program conducted in the RMI. The Department of Energy (DOE) facility, known as the Pacific Proving Ground, was a weapons test site in the South Pacific from 1946 to 1962. The district offices were previously instructed (per Bulletin 02-22) to halt adjudication on these cases while the National Office researched the Marshallese eligibility.
In 1986, the United States and the Marshall Islands terminated their trust territory relationship through enactment of the Compact of Free Association (Compact). The Compact is a comprehensive document encompassing a variety of agreements, including a number of socio-economic, agricultural, and monetary compensation programs. Under the Compact, the RMI became an independent sovereign nation and U.S. laws ceased to apply unless otherwise specified.
It has been determined that RMI citizens are not eligible for benefits under the EEOICPA as a result of employment in the Marshall Islands. Claims alleging exposure in the Marshall Islands from claimants who are not RMI citizens should be referred to the National Office.
Reference: Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Act of 2000, 42 U.S.C. § 7384 et seq.
Purpose: To provide procedures for processing claims from citizens of the Marshall Islands.
Applicability: All staff.
1. Any claim in which the EE-1 or EE-2 form indicated the employee was a non-U.S. citizen and worked for the Department of Energy in the Marshall Islands should have been coded HM (Hold - Marshall Islands) on the claim status screen in ECMS. HM is a suspension code that indicates the claim is from the Marshall Islands and all adjudication is on hold until notified by the National Office to release the hold status and commence the adjudicatory process per Bulletin 02-22. This Bulletin provides the notification to proceed with the adjudication of these cases.
2. When a new claim for compensation is submitted, the claims examiner (CE) reviews the documentation submitted with the EE-1 or EE-2 and EE-3 forms. Based on this review, the CE determines whether the claimant identified any employment in the Marshall Islands.
3. Development of any claims relating solely to employment in the Marshall Islands should proceed in the usual manner. The CE must review any documentation submitted by the claimant and undertake any additional development necessary to clarify the individual’s employment status and citizenship. Upon finding that the claimed employee is/was a citizen of the RMI, and that the only claimed employment was in the RMI, the CE must deny the claim. The CE shall issue a recommended decision denying the claim because interpreting EEOICPA to apply to such claims would constitute an invasion of the sovereignty of the RMI. The ramifications of this interpretation are further addressed in the next Action.
4. In the conclusions of law portion of the recommended decision, the CE shall explain that there is no provision for coverage of claims based upon employment in the RMI by citizens of the RMI under the EEOICPA. The following wording should be inserted as a summary of the DEEOIC policy:
Since interpreting EEOICPA to apply to claims by RMI citizens based upon employment in the RMI would constitute an invasion of the sovereignty of the RMI, the presumption against applying a statute extraterritorially is invoked. Furthermore, there appears to be no contrary intent by Congress to rebut that presumption and, to the extent that Congress has expressed any intent, its approval of the Compact of Free Association between the United States and the RMI suggests that it did not intend for EEOICPA to apply extraterritorially in this situation.
5. Claims of RMI citizens that do not relate solely to employment in the Marshall Islands and claims of persons other than RMI citizens alleging employment-related exposure in the Marshall Islands should be referred to the National Office.
Disposition: Retain until incorporated in the Federal (EEOICPA) Procedure Manual.
PETER M. TURCIC
Director, Division of Energy Employees
Occupational Illness Compensation
Distribution List No. 1: Claims Examiners, Supervisory Claims Examiners, Technical Assistants, Customer Service Representatives, Fiscal Officers, FAB District Managers, Operation Chiefs, Hearing Representatives, District Office Mail & File Sections