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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. The Act includes Section 1556, entitled Equity For Certain Eligible Survivors. The section affects claims by miners and their dependent survivors where the miner worked fifteen or more years in or around coal mines and claims of dependent survivors of miners who were entitled to total disability benefits at the time of their deaths. In its entirety, this section reads:

Sec. 1556. Equity For Certain Eligible Survivors.

  1. Rebuttable Presumption.− Section 411(c)(4) of the Black Lung Benefits Act (30 U.S.C. 921(c)(4)) is amended by striking the last sentence.
  2. Continuation Of Benefits.− Section 422(l) of the Black Lung Benefits Act (30 U.S.C. 932(l)) is amended by striking “, except with respect to a claim filed under this part on or after the effective date of the Black Lung Benefits Amendments of 1981”.
  3. Effective Date.− The amendments made by this section shall apply with respect to claims filed under part B or part C of the Black Lung Benefits Act (30 U.S.C. 921 et seq., 931 et seq.) after January 1, 2005, that are pending on or after the date of enactment of this Act.

The Division of Coal Mine Workers’ Compensation is implementing changes to its procedures in order to ensure conformance with the new law. We are working with the Office of the Solicitor of Labor, the Office of Administrative Law Judges, and the Benefits Review Board to ensure that all claims affected by these changes are processed in accordance with the law as expeditiously as possible.