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ESA News Release: [11/01/2004]
Office of Workers' Compensation Programs
Contact Name: Dolline Hatchett
Phone Number: (202) 693-4651
Release Number: 04-2270-NAT

U.S. Department of Labor Assumes Responsibility For a New Energy Workers Compensation Program

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today announced that it has assumed responsibility for administration of the new Part E of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA), under legislation sponsored by Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY), signed Friday by President Bush. The program provides federal benefits to DOE contractor and subcontractor employees (or their eligible survivors) for occupational illnesses caused by exposure to toxic substances while working at a Department of Energy (DOE) facility. The new law also provides additional compensation for uranium workers covered by the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). In addition to managing Part E of the EEOICPA, the department also administers Part B, which provides lump sum compensation and payment of medical expenses for current and former DOE employees who became ill as a result of their exposure to radiation, beryllium or silica.

Until recently, DOE managed the program known as Part D of EEOICPA. However, a provision of the Fiscal Year 2005 Defense Authorization Bill abolished Part D and replaced it with Part E, a system of federal payments to be administered by the Department of Labor (DOL).

This Administration has always been committed to helping those workers who were harmed in service to our country and wanted to ensure that the new program would be one that would serve workers well, said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. The Department of Labor has a record of accomplishment with this program and we intend to build upon that. The President has asked and we are committed to ensuring that qualified workers and their families get payments as soon as possible.

The new law provides compensation and medical benefits for DOE contractor and subcontractor employees whose illnesses were caused by exposure to any toxic substance while working at a DOE facility. Qualified survivors are the spouse of the employee and children who were either under the age of 18, full time students under the age of 23, or any age and incapable of self support at the time of the employees death. The passage of this legislation means some individuals who have received payments under the existing Part B may be eligible for a new federal payment if qualified under Part E.

While DOL develops the necessary regulations to fully implement the new Part E of the EEOICPA, claims already in the DOE Physicians Panel pipeline will continue to be reviewed to determine whether the claimants illnesses were work related. Energy Department panel decisions will be honored by DOL. All individuals who filed claims under the DOE-administered program will receive a letter from DOL explaining the new law and how their claims will be addressed under the new program. In addition, Town Hall meetings will be scheduled in the coming weeks in the larger DOE communities to explain how DOL will proceed to implement the new program.