Coal miners receive assistance filing for Black Lung Disease - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Coal miners receive assistance filing for Black Lung Disease benefits

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Coal miners and veterans received assistance in Princeton filing for federal benefits for Black Lung Disease.

Members of the United States Department of Labor met with coal miners and veterans on Monday.

Clinics were set up to let miners know they can still sign up even if they've been denied before. Representatives told 59News coal miners and veterans can file once a year until they have been awarded their benefits. They said miner's spouses can also receive benefits after they have passed away.

If needed, the clinics provide legal assistance.

"The insurance companies are always going to fight them. This could go on for 4 to 5 years at a time, the fight in the court system, before they are awarded for their black lung," benefits counselor Tommy Curry said.

A 20-year veteran of the mines said over the years he's seen coworkers pass away from health issues related to the nature of their job.

"I've had a couple friends that have already passed away, that I've worked with. Black lung was part of the problem," said Kenny Crotty.

Curry told 59News he believes over the past few decades, black lung disease has become even more prevalent. The National Institution on Health and Safety conducted a study on active coal miners in Southern West Virginia.

"They said that Southern West Virginia and Southern Virginia are seeing younger patients who have spent less time in the mines with very complicated black lung disease. Coal miners are working 10-12 hours a day, before they were only working 8 hours a day, which gave their lungs enough time to clear out," said Curry.

The next clinic to assist coal miners and veterans will be at the Mount Hope Fire Department on April 15th from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.