Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act Is Plagued With Problems

July 8, 2016

In October 2000, Congress enacted the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) to protect workers in the energy industry. The legislation paved the way for workers at the US Department of Energy to seek recompense for illnesses resulting from their employment, a process that was notoriously difficult before EEOICPA due to the large number of vendors, contractors, and subcontractors that the department used over the years.

Who is covered under EEOICPA?

According to the United States Department of Labor, the act, “…compensates current or former employees (or their survivors) of the Department of Energy (DOE), its predecessor agencies, and certain of its vendors, contractors and subcontractors, who were diagnosed with a radiogenic cancer, chronic beryllium disease, beryllium sensitivity, or chronic silicosis, as a result of exposure to radiation, beryllium, or silica while employed at covered facilities.”

The act doesn’t just apply to those who worked with radioactive materials; in 2004, Part E of the EEOICPA specifically includes miners, millers, and ore transporters as eligible for compensation. The language of the act is relatively plain; requirements for compensation are laid out for different cases, and a list of the companies covered at different times is easily available on the Depart of Labor website.

A good idea riddled with issues

Unfortunately, the simplicity ends there. Congress created an ombudsman’s office in 2004 to aid program claimants. The office has published an annual summary of problems for claimants since its inception, and the summaries are not short. While the program has paid out more than $12 billion in compensation since it began, an even greater number of claims have been denied for a variety of reasons. The Center for Public Integrity has an extensive list of the problems plaguing the compensation program, but cites the four main issues as:

  • Hard-to-find information, where documents on similar issues do not refer to each other.
  • Inconsistencies between published policies and actual practice.
  • Lack of assistance from anyone at the agency.
  • Post-approval problems, including cumbersome paperwork and Labor Department billing issues.

Getting compensation for an injury or illness can be complicated and difficult even when the issues are minor and the cause is clear. When a bureaucratic behemoth like the EEOICPA at the Department of Labor is involved, it can be next to impossible. One report found that nearly two-thirds of claims were rejected because of the Department of Energy’s incomplete and difficult to access records. This is not the way that dedicated individuals who have suffered the effects of a lifetime of hard work in the energy industry should be treated.

If you are fighting for the rights of a loved one who has been injured, fallen ill, or died because of the work they did, the experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates will fight with you to get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today or call 888.PITT.LAW. Our firm serves clients in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.