New Black Lung Rules Offer Hope to Coal Miners - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

New Black Lung Rules Offer Hope to Coal Miners

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There's new mine safety rules for Black Lung.
     Amendments were made Wednesday to the 2010 Black Lung Benefits Act, making it easier for coal miners and their families to get benefits.
     59News spoke to people in Raleigh County who've lost family members to the disease.

 

"It's something that should have been done a long time ago," Rebecca Adkins said.

"That's really good but it's a little too late because both my dad and grandpa are gone," Amy Ayers said.

"I think that's a good thing that he's doing now but that should have been done a long time ago," Douglas Grimmett told us.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Worker's Compensation Program announced two amendments. The first makes an automatic assumption for those who worked in coal miners for at least 15 years and suffered a totally disabling respiratory impairment. The other automatically transfers black lung benefits from the late recipient to eligible survivors.

"I have family that had Black Lung and a lot of them couldn't get anything," Grimmett said.

"My grandfather did and my grandmother lives in Bradley and she gets benefits but she's been fighting with them and sometimes they don't give it to them," said Adkins.

"He was proven 90 percent Black Lung. My dad was proven 30 percent but he never got any benefits from it," Ayers told us.

A respiratory technician told 59News throughout the years she's seen younger and younger miners in her clinic.

"I'm seeing a lot of younger coal miners getting black lung now. Some are getting the worse kind, complicated black lung. It's sad to see these young miners not be able to do anything with their families," Respiratory Technician Cathy Stover said.

Stover told 59News how victim's families can now receive their benefits.

"That is good for the widows, they will be able to apply for a survivor's claim," Stover said.

If you or someone you know may be suffering from the disease, you can visitwww.blacklungwv.org