The Division of Coal Mine Workers' Compensation, or Federal Black Lung Program, administers claims filed under the Black Lung Benefits Act (BLBA).

The BLBA provides compensation to coal miners who are totally disabled by pneumoconiosis arising out of coal mine employment, and to survivors of coal miners whose deaths are attributable to the disease. The BLBA also provides eligible miners with medical coverage for the treatment of lung diseases related to pneumoconiosis.

Coal mine operators and their insurers bear primary responsibility for paying benefits. Under the BLBA, coal mine operators can self-insure their liabilities if they meet certain regulatory requirements.

Proposed Rulemaking

On January 19, 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register to revise the regulations under the BLBA governing authorization of coal mine operators to self-insure their BLBA liabilities.

The proposed regulations would streamline the application process and require all self-insured coal mine operators to post security that would cover at least 120% of their total estimated current and future BLBA liabilities. This proposed rule would better protect the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund and taxpayers when coal mine operators are no longer able to satisfy their obligations under the BLBA.

More information and the proposed rule are available at the following links:

Interested parties should submit comments on the proposed rule during the 60-day comment period, which expires March 20, 2023. Comments can be submitted at Regulations.gov.