The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) just released some black lung benefits data as a part of its 2013 Annual Statistical Supplement. As the SSA explains, this data is limited because it only cover claims filed before 1974 (what are known as “Part B” claims), however it is presents the state of Part B claims as of December 31, 2012 and shows that a family may still receive black lung benefits nearly four decades after a claim is filed.
19,490 people were receiving federal black lung benefits based on claims filed before 1974. The vast majority of these benefits were paid to widows and dependents. Widows made up 73.9% of recipients and dependents made up 19%. Only 7.1% of the claims were paid to miners, likely reflecting the low life expectancy of miners with black lung.
Recipients lived in 46 of the 50 states, but most recipients lived in Appalachian states: West Virginia (21.9% of recipients), Pennsylvania (20%), Kentucky (16.6%), Virginia (9.4%), Ohio (6.4%), Tennessee (4.5%), and Alabama (3.7%).
Note that this data is preliminary and subject to revision. Final data will be posted on the SSA’s site for the 2013 Annual Statistical Supplement.