Division of Coal Mine Workers' Compensation (DCMWC)

Question #1: How will the response to COVID-19 affect my claim?

Answer #1: We continue to process claims, and benefit payments will not be delayed. We have also extended most deadlines by 60 days for the submission of evidence and responses. This may have the effect of lengthening the time necessary to issue an initial decision. NOTE: Under current law, some deadlines cannot be extended. For example, we are unable to extend the 30-day time limit for requesting reconsideration or a hearing following the issuance of a Proposed Decision and Order (PDO). Claimants can continue to file claims and documents by mail and are encouraged to submit documents other than an initial claim form through the online C.O.A.L. Mine Portal.

Question #2: Will you allow claimants to obtain their medications for longer periods of time?

Answer #2: Yes. We have revised the current policy for medications dispensed to claimants and increased the day-supply limits on prescription drugs from 30 days to 90 days. This revised policy does not include compounds and Schedule II medications. The limit for compounds and Schedule II medications dispensed to DCMWC claimants and approved under exception guidelines will continue to be 30 days.

Question #3: Can I reschedule medical testing exams?

Answer #3: If you do not want to attend a scheduled DOL or employer exam right now, you can postpone or reschedule it. You will not be penalized for postponing or rescheduling your examination. Before going to any examination, please contact the doctor's office to ensure that the office is open and conducting tests, and to determine if you should take special precautions or follow any other special instructions. You should also let the doctor's office know of any health concerns you have so that they can advise you whether to postpone or reschedule your examination.

Question #4: How can a miner receive pulmonary rehabilitation services during the pandemic?

Answer #4: Physicians can continue to refer miners for pulmonary rehabilitation services. We implemented new flexibilities so that a physician can direct a Registered Nurse (RN), Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner (APNP), or Physician Assistant (PA) to conduct pulmonary rehabilitation services at a miner's home or another place near the miner's location. If a miner's pulmonary rehabilitation program was interrupted because of the COVID-19 outbreak, DCMWC will pay for another program if the referring physician recommends that the miner restart the program from the beginning. We are reaching out to miners and health care professionals, including pulmonary rehabilitation providers, to let them know about these new flexibilities. General information about pulmonary rehabilitation services is available on our website in Bulletin 18-02 and information about telemedicine services is in Bulletin 20-02.

Question #5:  Will you cover the cost of COVID-19 testing if required as part of my 413(b) examination or treatment?

Answer #5:  Yes.  DCMWC will pay for COVID-19 testing, if it is determined to be medically necessary in order to proceed with the other tests that are part of the complete pulmonary examination (413(b) examination).

DCMWC will also reimburse reasonable costs associated with travel to receive a COVID-19 test, in accordance with existing rules.

Question #6:  Will you cover the cost of the COVID-19 vaccine?

Answer #6:  Yes if your medical benefits are being paid by the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.  DCMWC's historical practice has been to cover costs for vaccinations related to respiratory ailments, such as influenza, for miners covered under the BLBA.  DCMWC will pay any costs associated with administering the COVID-19 vaccine. (There is no cost for the vaccine itself.)