Payment of Black Lung Benefits to Widows Who Also Receive State Workmen's Compensation Payments
HRD-78-157, Sep 6, 1978
An examination was conducted of the black lung benefits paid to miners, and eligible survivors of miners, who also received State workmen's compensation payments from the Social Security Administration, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and the Department of Labor. During May 1978, Social Security paid $33.6 million in black lung benefits to 145,251 widows and their dependents, and the Department of Labor paid $216,000 to 933 widows and their dependents. In Pennsylvania and Kentucky, where the examination was performed, most of the workmen's compensation awards to miners were for disability due to pneumoconiosis. None of the benefits Social Security paid to widows of miners in Pennsylvania and Kentucky was reduced when they received State workmen's compensation payments; this was because Social Security considered the State payments as death benefits. In contrast, the Department of Labor routinely reduces black lung benefits to widows when they receive State workmen's compensation because of their husbands' deaths. The Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 should be amended so that comparable treatment will be provided to widows receiving benefits from State workmen's compensation because of their husband's deaths.