Federal Black Lung Benefits Rates for 2016: Benefits Increase By 1%

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Recently the U.S. Department of Labor increased by 1% the modest amount of money that disabled coal miners and their families who receive federal black lung benefits get each month.

As posted online by the Division of Coal Mine Workers’ Compensation of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation, the monthly benefits rates are now:

  • Primary beneficiary (e.g., a single miner or a widow without any dependent children) $644.50/month
  • Primary beneficiary and one dependent (e.g., a married miner or a widow a dependent child)$966.80/month
  • Primary beneficiary and two dependents (e.g., a married miner with one dependent child)$1,127.90/month
  • Primary beneficiary and three or more dependents (e.g., a married miner with two or more dependent children) – $1,289.00/month

Note that sometimes benefits are decreased because a miner or survivor has another benefits award under a federal or state workers’ compensation program.  Many beneficiaries also effectively get less because an award of federal black lung benefits can decrease the amount that someone gets from an award of Social Security Disability.

This is an increase of 1% over last year’s benefits amounts.  (The 2015 black lung benefits rates were:  $638.10 for a primary beneficiary, $957.20 for primary with one dependent, $1,116.70 for a primary with two dependents, and $1,276.20 for a primary with three or more dependents.)

The 1% increase for 2016 happened because federal employees got a 1% raise for 2016. Black lung benefits for a primary beneficiary are set by law as 37.5% of the base salary of a Federal employee at level GS-2, Step 1.  See 30 U.S.C. § 922(a)(1).  One dependent results in 50% more, two dependents in 75% more, and three or more dependents in 100% more.  Id. § (a)(4).

There have recently been proposals to change the formula of black lung benefits.  The Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act of 2015 proposed severing the link between black lung benefits and the salaries of federal employees and instead giving a primary beneficiary $665.00 per month and then increasing that amount each year using a Cost of Living Adjustment formula.  The current formula means that when federal employees do not get raises due to congressional fights over the federal budget, then disabled miners and their families suffer as well.

In addition to monthly monetary benefits, disabled coal miners also receive medical benefits to treat their lung disease.  For many miners, the medical benefits prove more valuable than the monetary benefits.

Disabled coal miners and their families deserve more, but every little bit—including this year’s 1% increase—always helps.

4 Responses to “Federal Black Lung Benefits Rates for 2016: Benefits Increase By 1%”

  1. William a. rhodes

    I think all miners with over 20 yrs. of mining experience should be able to draw black lung without all of the disappointments a miner goes through in the current evaluations.

    Reply
  2. John mihalic

    Filed twice. Denied. Twice. So unfair. Doctors say i have black. Lung but judge wont grant. Me benefits. Will probably lose everything this year. Hate. To be homeless and sick ay sixty six my dad and grandfather. Both died from this dreadful. Disease. Where. Is the help we are. So afraid. John mihalic Hudson. Fla 7278699610

    Reply
  3. Bonniebreeding@frontier.com

    Pkease answer this Question,,A disabled miner who has over 17 years in underground coal mines, passes away from prostate cancer metatsized to bone and liver and autopsy is performed stating the miner has si.ok black lung can his wife get black lung benefits and /or compensation? Please give a reply ASAP., the disabled miner was age 65

    Reply
  4. ron

    and you want to bring coal jobs back in 2017? time to move on and invest this money in a better trade for employing the citizens.

    Reply

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