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News Release

Labor Department Recognizes 5th Anniversary of the Energy Workers Compensation Program

Department Has Paid Claimants More Than $1.5 Billion Since Program's Inception

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) this month marks the fifth anniversary of administering the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Program. The department has administered Part B of the program since its inception in 2001, and was charged with implementation of Part E, a provision created in October 2004 as part of an amendment to the energy program.

Over the past five years, more than 75,000 claims have been filed by workers or their families seeking benefits under the program's Part B provision. Of those claims, the department has reached final decisions on more than 51,000 of them, issuing lump sum payments exceeding $1.5 billion. In addition, the department has paid $104 million to cover costs of necessary medical care for employees with illnesses linked to their employment in the atomic weapons industry. With regard to the Part B claims still pending, the department continues to work in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which must complete a radiation dose reconstruction for each cancer case before DOL can decide on that individual's eligibility for payment.

"Ever since Congress gave this program to the Department of Labor, we have been committed to ensuring that eligible injured workers and their families get the compensation they deserve as quickly as possible," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "The department created a streamlined claims process that reflects Congress' design and is focused on doing everything possible for the workers and their loved ones who have suffered for their contribution to our nation's security."

Under the department's implementation of Part E, more than 25,000 cases were transferred to the department from the Energy Department. Within a matter of weeks, the Labor Department paid its first claimant benefit. Within seven months, it had paid out roughly $55 million in benefits, even before it published implementing regulations for Payment E. By June 2006, more than 3,000 claimants had received benefits under Part E, totaling more than $395 million.

The department has established and continues to promote strong outreach efforts to advise employees and their families of the benefits provided under the program. Since the inception of the program in July 2001, DOL has hosted 143 town hall meetings throughout the country. DOL has also set a goal of making initial decisions on 75% of the backlog of cases transferred from the Department of Energy by Sept. 30 of this year, and is well on its way to meeting this goal. In 2007, the new program will have eliminated the inherited backlog and will be current in processing all incoming claims.


Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Employment Standards Administration
July 19, 2006