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How black lung benefits affect coal miners and families

Posted On Wed, April 28, 2010

The April 5 explosion in a West Virginia coal mine has claimed the lives of 29 men, despite rescue efforts. Many of those killed may have been eligible for black lung benefits.

Many families are left grieving, but thanks to the 2010 Black Lungs Benefits Act Amendments, widows and other dependents of coal miners are eligible to receive disability and survivor benefits at the time of death. Changes came with the passage of the healthcare reform act signed by President Barack Obama.

Before the amendment, dependent survivors of coal miners had to prove black lung disease caused, contributed to, or hastened the miner's death in order to get benefits. Now, benefits will be automatic.

According to the Associated Press, Congress will hold hearings to determine the possible causes of the Upper Big Branch mine explosion. West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd told the AP this disaster is "infuriating" and wants the hearings to evaluate safety laws and mine health so that tragic incidents like the mine explosion can be avoided in the future.

Massey Energy, the owner of the mine, allegedly committed numerous safety violations that are believed to have led to the explosion.ADNFCR-2297-ID-19749064-ADNFCR

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