black lung benefits

black lung protest

black lung protest

Getting black lung benefits is now easier. If you worked in coal mines for at least 15 years and you’ve been diagnosed with a totally disabling lung impairment, it’s now presumed this was caused by black lung, and the burden is now on coal companies to prove otherwise. Also, black lung benefits now automatically transfer upon a miner’s death, so a miner’s widow no longer has to file her own claim.



Tucked deeply into the Affordable Care Act is a set of long-fought-for provisions specifically beneficial to coal miners: the law makes it easier to obtain black lung benefits. Due in large part to the efforts of the late Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, the ACA, among other reforms, shifted the burden of proof for black lung off of the miner (if he/she has worked 15 years) and onto the company.


For more specifics on how this works, try these resources:

  • WMMT REPORT: “Obamacare” Makes it Easier to Obtain Black Lung Benefits” (11/3/2012)

    In this report from WMMT 88.7 FM, a community radio station in Whitesburg, Ky., producer Rich Kirby sits down sits down with attorney Wes Addington of the Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center, a non-profit law firm also in Whitesburg, to understand these changes that, at the time of the report, had already allowed over 700 former miners or surviving family members to obtain black lung benefits.