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News Release

U.S. Department of Labor Seeks Input on Updating Medical Testing Standards Under the Black Lung Benefits Act

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) today announced a Request for Information (RFI) regarding the Black Lung Benefits Act's standards for administering and interpreting medical testing in connection with black lung benefits claims.

The Department encourages medical professionals, black lung clinics, employers, miners, and other stakeholders to submit comments, data, and information in order to help OWCP ensure that its standards remain consistent with current medical technology and practice. In particular, OWCP is seeking input on revising its existing standards on pulmonary function tests and arterial blood gas studies and adopting standards for other common tests such as pulse oximetry and lung diffusion testing.

"The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs' standards help ensure that decisions on black lung benefits claims are based on accurate test results," said OWCP Director Julia K. Hearthway. "We want to make sure our standards are keeping up with today's best medical knowledge and practices to ensure the safety of American workers."

The Black Lung Benefits Act provides compensation to miners who are disabled due to pneumoconiosis, commonly called black lung disease. Claims for black lung benefits typically involve medical tests to evaluate the miner's respiratory condition. OWCP's standards help to ensure that medical tests performed in connection with a black lung claim produce accurate and reliable results and that test results are interpreted in a consistent manner. 

The RFI will be published in the Federal Register. Public comments must be submitted by January 27, 2020.

OWCP's Division of Coal Mine Workers' Compensation administers the Federal Black Lung Benefits Program.

The mission of OWCP is to protect the interests of workers who are injured or become ill on the job, their families and their employers by making timely, appropriate, and accurate decisions on claims, providing prompt payment of benefits and helping injured workers return to gainful work as early as is feasible.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

Office of Workers' Compensation Programs
September 26, 2019
Release Number
Media Contact: Laura McGinnis
Media Contact: Denisha Braxton
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