DOL Pays $100 Million in Benefits to Florida Residents

The Department of Labor recently announced that it has paid more than $100 million in compensation and medical benefits to Florida residents under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA).

The act was created to assist those individuals who became ill as a result of working in the atomic weapons industry. Survivors of such individuals may also be eligible for benefits. Since the implementation of the act, DOL has paid 48,510 claimants more than $4.5 billion in compensation and medical benefits nationwide.

"We are extremely proud of having compensated so many deserving Florida residents," said Rachel P. Leiton, director of the department's Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (DEEOIC). "This milestone further demonstrates DEEOIC's commitment to assisting those Cold War workers who served this nation in building its nuclear defense programs. But we also believe there may be other Floridians who have not yet filed for these benefits, including many who worked at nuclear weapons facilities elsewhere and later retired in Florida. These individuals are urged to contact the U.S. Department of Labor at 866-666-4606 to inquire about their potential eligibility."

EEOICPA is divided into two parts, B and E, each having unique criteria for awarding benefits. Part B of the act was implemented in July 2001, and covers current or former workers who have been diagnosed with cancers, beryllium disease, or silicosis, and whose illness was caused by exposure to radiation, beryllium, or silica while working directly for the Department of Energy, that department's contractors or subcontractors, a designated Atomic Weapons Employer, or a beryllium vendor. Individuals or their survivors found eligible under Part B may receive a lump sum compensation payment of $150,000 and medical expenses for their covered condition.

Part E of the act was created as an amendment to the EEOICPA in October 2004, transferring the old Part D from the Department of Energy to DOL. Part E provides coverage to Energy Department contractor or subcontractor employees who developed any illness, including cancer, beryllium disease and silicosis, as a result of occupational exposure to a toxic substance at a covered department facility. Workers found eligible under Part E of the EEOICPA receive payment of their medical expenses for their covered illnesses and may also be eligible for impairment and/or wage loss compensation. Survivors found eligible under Part E receive a lump sum compensation payment of $125,000 and may also be eligible to receive additional compensation if the worker experienced wage loss due to the accepted condition.

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