EEOICPA BULLETIN NO. 11-08

 

Issue Date:        September 9, 2011

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Effective Date:    September 9, 2011

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Expiration Date:   September 9, 2012

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Subject:   Guidance for using the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) database (Ruttenber Database)

 

Background:  On September 5, 2007, two classes of employees who worked at the Rocky Flats Plant in Golden, Colorado, between April 1, 1952 and December 31, 1966 were added to the Special Exposure Cohort (SEC) under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 (EEOICPA).  The Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (DEEOIC) distributed guidance to implement Rocky Flats SEC claims in EEOICPA Bulletin Nos. 08-01, 08-11, 08-14 and EEOICPA Circular No. 08-03. 

 

Since the issuance of that guidance, DEEOIC obtained a compilation of data on Rocky Flats employees produced by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The data, contained in a report entitled “Report of Epidemiologic Analyses Performed for Rocky Flats Production Workers Employed Between 1952-1989,” (Ruttenber Database) is principally authored by A. James Ruttenber, Ph.D., M.D, and is organized in a database format. 

 

References: A. James Ruttenber, Ph.D. M.D., Margaret Schonbeck, Shannon Brown, Ph.D., Timothy Wells, D.V.M., MPH, David McClure, M.S., Jason McCrea, Douglas Popken, Ph.D. and John Martyny, Ph.D., Report of Epidemiologic Analyses Performed for Rocky Flats Production Workers Employed between 1952-1989 (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) March 3, 2003 and the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000, 42 U.S.C. § 7384 et seq.; 42 C.F.R. Part 83, Procedures for Designating Classes of Employees as Members of the Special Exposure Cohort Under EEOICPA; the August 6, 2007 letters to Congress from the Secretary of HHS in which Secretary Leavitt made the Rocky Flats SEC designations and EEOICPA Bulletin Nos. 08-01, 08-11, 08-14 and EEOICPA Circular No. 08-03. 

 

Purpose: To provide guidance for the utilization of the Ruttenber Database in the development of cases with employment at Rocky Flats.

 

Applicability: All staff.

 

Actions:

 

1. In determining whether the employment history meets the 250 work day requirement to be included in the Rocky Flats SEC classes, the claims examiner (CE) must consider employment at Rocky Flats that “was monitored or should have been monitored for neutron exposure” from April 1, 1952 through December 31, 1966.  Additionally, the CE must consider employment either solely at Rocky Flats or in combination with work days for other SEC classes. Staff will utilize the Ruttenber Database in all instances possible when evaluating a claim to determine whether or not inclusion in the SEC classes is warranted. 

 

2. At all times when utilizing the guidance set out in this Bulletin, the CE is to refer to and comply with previous guidance regarding the Rocky Flats SEC classes as set out in EEOICPA Bulletin Nos. 08-01, 08-11, 08-14 and EEOICPA Circular No. 08-03. If there is a previous final decision to deny a claim reviewed under this Bulletin, the District Director proceeds to reopen the claim pursuant to the guidance outlined in EEOICPA Bulletin No. 09-01.  

 

3. DEEOIC will provide each district and Final Adjudication Branch (FAB) office with the Ruttenber Database, hereafter referred to as the “database.”  The database lists the following data: Employee IDentification [Number] (EID), employee last and first name, Social Security number, employment year, general job description, general organization, building location, and attributed neutron (NEU_RECPEN) dose.  The spreadsheet is organized by year, so if an employee worked at Rocky Flats from 1955 through 1965, the listing will contain 11 lines of data for the employee, one for each year.  It should be noted that there are gaps in reported information throughout the category listings.  For years without any information listed, the CE ignores the absence of data.   

 

4. If there is a match on the “database” and the case file contains evidence that the employee worked at Rocky Flats during the SEC period and the Ruttenber Database “NEU_RECPEN” extract column shows a 100 milliRem or greater, neutron dose in any given year, then the CE accepts this as evidence that the employee should have been monitored specifically for neutron exposure.  If all other requirements listed in Procedure Manual chapter 2-0600 are met, the CE accepts the employee’s inclusion in the SEC class, and proceeds accordingly based upon the adjudicatory/developmental posture of the claim.

 

5. If there is a match on the “database” and the case file contains evidence that the employee worked at Rocky Flats during the SEC period and the Ruttenber Database building location data column labeled “building” shows any building that matches one of the locations identified in Bulletin No. 08-01 and Circular No. 08-03, the CE will use this information as confirmation that the employee was monitored or should have been monitored for neutron exposure.  If all other requirements listed in Procedure Manual chapter 2-0600 are met, the CE accepts the employee’s inclusion in the Rocky Flats SEC class, and proceeds accordingly based upon the adjudicatory/developmental posture of the claim and using the guidance outlined in the aforementioned procedural documents.    

 

6.  DEEOIC is conducting a detailed analysis of previously adjudicated claims to determine if any warrant reopening based upon data contained in the Ruttenber database.  Further guidance about Rocky Flats claims that require reopening will be forthcoming from the National Office.

 

7.  In addition to the usual recommended decision coding, when a recommended decision to grant benefits based on inclusion in an SEC Class is issued, the CE must enter the code “SER”(SEC Recommended Acceptance) into the claim status history.  This code represents that an SEC acceptance is included in the recommended decision being issued.  This code is entered with the same status effective date as the recommended decision (it doesn’t matter which one is entered first).  The “SER” code has replaced the “SE” code (though there is no reason to update old “SE” codes). 

 

When the “SER” code is entered, a reason code must be entered to reflect which SEC class the acceptance is based on.  If the acceptance is based on this Rocky Flats SEC, the reason code selected will be “O1S- Reviewed under Bulletin 08-01, Rocky Flats SEC.”

 

If the SEC acceptance is based on inclusion in more than one SEC Class, then more than one “SER” code will need to be entered so that the reason codes selected will represent all SEC classes leading to the acceptance. 

 

In addition to the usual final decision coding, when a final decision to grant benefits based on inclusion in an SEC class is issued, the FAB CE/HR must enter the code “SEF” (SEC Final Acceptance) into the claim status history.  This code represents that an SEC acceptance is included in the final decision being issued.  This code is entered with the same status effective date as the final decision (it doesn’t matter which one is entered first).

 

When the “SEF” code is entered, a reason code must be entered to reflect which SEC class the acceptance is based on.  If the acceptance is based on the Rocky Flats SEC, the reason code selected will be “O1S- Reviewed under Bulletin 08-01, Rocky Flats SEC.” Just as with the recommended decision, if the SEC acceptance being rendered is based on inclusion in more than one SEC class, then more than one “SEF” code will need to be entered so that the reason codes selected will represent all SEC classes leading to the acceptance. 

 

Also note that the SEC description field is no longer required on the claim screen.

 

Disposition:  Retain until incorporated in the Federal (EEOICPA) Procedure Manual.

 

 

 

 

RACHEL P. LEITON

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, Resource Centers and District Office Mail & File Sections