Black Lung Disability Benefits
Under 20 CFR 718.204 (2), total disability due to pneumoconiosis can be established by medical criteria, including the results of a valid pulmonary function test, a valid arterial blood gas-test, or by evidence that the miner suffers from cor pulmonale with right-side congestive heart failure. See 20 CFR 718.204(2)(i)(A)(B)(C); (2)(ii); (2)(iii). But this is only one way to obtain disability benefits. The regulations under 20 CFR 718.204(2)(iv) state, where total disability cannot be established under these medical criteria, total disability may nevertheless be found if:
“a physician exercising reasoned medical judgement, based on medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques, concludes that a miner’s respiratory or pulmonary condition prevents or prevented the miner from engaging in employment as described in paragraph (b)(1)…”.
A minor shall be considered totally disabled, as it states in 20 CFR 718.204(b)(1), if:
“the miner has a pulmonary or respiratory impairment, which standing alone, prevents the miner (1) From performing his or her usual coal mine work; and (ii) From engaging in gainful employment in the immediate area of his or her residence requiring the skills or abilities comparable to those of any employment in a mine or mines in which he or she previously engaged with some regularity over a substantial period of time.”
This means, according to the regulations, that if a physician offers a reasoned medical opinion that a miner is prevented from performing his or her usual coal mine work and doing other comparable gainful employment due to pneumoconiosis, disability benefits should be granted. The point of the regulation is to allow miners who suffer from coal workers’ pneumoconiosis to be found disabled because returning to a coal dust environment, like the mine, will make their condition worse and shorten their life span. If you suffer from coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, apply for your disability benefits and do not give up the fight if you are initially rejected. At Cannon Disability Law we will fight for your disability benefits.