July 14, 2022

Manchin, Casey, Brown, Kaine, Warner Reintroduce Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act

Washington, DC – This week, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Bob Casey (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA) reintroduced the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act to ensure miners who have suffered from Black Lung disease and their survivors can access the benefits they need and deserve. The legislation improves the existing Black Lung Benefits Program for miners and their survivors by increasing access to legal representation, protecting financial compensation against inflation and bankruptcy of self-insured coal companies and reducing wait times for processing claims to the benefits.
“For generations, our brave coal miners have risked their lives and health to power our nation to greatness and as a result, many of our miners suffer from Black Lung Disease. After their enormous sacrifices, they have earned the vital treatment and medical care they need. I am proud to reintroduce the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act with my colleagues to help our miners access the benefits they are entitled to and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help us pass this crucial legislation that supports our coal miners who have given so much to our great nation,” said Senator Manchin.
“For decades, our country has relied on coal miners to power our factories and heat our homes. Many coal workers risked their lives and their long-term health to do the job of powering years of prosperity, and Congress has an obligation to support them, just as they’ve supported us. This legislation would ensure that every coal miner who suffers from black lung disease receives the benefits they are entitled to,” said Senator Casey. “Coal miners have pushed our country forward, and I’ll keep fighting to make sure they aren’t left behind.”
“Ohio miners put their health at risk to power our country,” said Senator Brown. “They’ve suffered enough. They shouldn’t have to navigate an interminable claims process riddled with red tape, all to get the benefits they have earned.”
“Virginia miners have helped power this nation for generations, risking their health and often developing deadly black lung disease while on the job,” said Senator Kaine. “Following their sacrifice, they’ve earned benefits to help them combat this debilitating disease. This legislation will make it easier for miners and their family members to receive these benefits in a fair and timely manner.”
“Every day, Virginia’s coal miners put their health at risk to power our country. We owe it to those battling black lung disease as a result of their years of work to ensure that they receive the medical care they deserve,” said Senator Warner. “This legislation will allow more miners and their families to access care and benefits as they face this diagnosis.”
Congress established the Black Lung Benefits Act in conjunction with the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 to provide monthly compensation and medical coverage for coal miners who developed severe disabilities from Black Lung disease. The Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act expands and improves the existing program to ensure the federal government is fulfilling its commitment to the nation’s coal miners. The legislation has been endorsed by several miner advocate groups, including United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center (UCLC), BlueGreen Alliance and Appalachian Voices.

One pager on the legislation is available here.
The full text of the legislation is available here.
A timeline of Senator Manchin’s work on Black Lung protections and benefits can be found here.