Which Illnesses Qualify?
The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) was created to compensate workers who have become ill as a result of being exposed to radioactive materials during their employment with the Department of Energy (DOE). However, only certain illnesses which have been linked to radiation, heavy metal, and chemical exposure are covered under the federal program. Under the EEOICPA, certain types of workers can be compensated for occupational illnesses resulting from exposure to dangerous materials while on the job. Occupational illness is defined those that are caused by beryllium illness, specified cancers engendered by radiation exposure, and Chronic silicosis.
Beryllium illnesses covered by EEOICPA include:
- Beryllium sensitivity, as established by an abnormal beryllium lymphocyte proliferation test performed on blood or lung cells;
- Established chronic beryllium disease; or
- Any injury, impairment, disability, or illness sustained as a result of exposure.
To be considered an established chronic beryllium disease, claimants must provide certain types of proof. For diagnoses on or after January 1, 1993, claimants must provide evidence of either a lung biopsy, computerized axial tomography scan, or a pulmonary function or exercise test showing pulmonary deficits. Diagnoses that occurred prior to January 1, 1993 conversely require proof of exposure and one of the following:
- Characteristic chest radiographic abnormalities;
- Restrictive or obstructive lung physiology testing;
- Lung pathology consistent with the disease;
- Clinical course consistent with the disorder; and
- Immunologic tests, such as a skin patch or blood test indicating the existence of beryllium sensitivity.
If a claimant has chronic silicosis, which is a non-malignant lung disease, he or she must have been exposed to silica dust for at least ten years before the onset of the disease. The claimant must provide a written diagnosis of silicosis authored by a medical doctor accompanied with a chest radiograph, results from a computer assisted tomography, or a lung biopsy which reveals the presence of silicosis.
The cancers covered by EEOICPA and RECA include bone cancer, renal cancer; leukemia (with certain stipulations), or lung cancer. There are also primary cancers which are covered, although many of them come with exceptions related to age or lifestyle. The following cancers must have occurred within five years of a worker’s exposure in order for the claimant to qualify for compensable health services
- Multiple myeloma;
- Thyroid, as long as exposure occurred before the age of 20 years old;
- Breast, if the initial exposure occurred before the patient turned 30 years old;
- Esophagus, if the claimant was not a heavy smoker and did not partake of a significant amount of alcohol;
- Stomach, as long as exposure occurred before the age of 20 years old;
- Pharynx, if the claimant was not a heavy smoker;
- Salivary gland;
- Small intestine;
- Pancreas, provided the claimant was not a heavy smoker and did not consume an excessive amount of coffee;
- Bile ducts;
- Gall bladder;
- Urinary tract;
- Colon or rectal; or
- Liver, unless diagnosed with cirrhosis or hepatitis B.
These primary cancers are covered by our SEC facilities, but non-SEC sites result in approval for any type of cancer, depending on dose and reconstruction. Additionally, in a Part E facility, any type of occupational illness (not just CBD, silicosis, or cancer) can be approved.
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There are a number of diseases that have been conclusively linked to exposure to certain types of radiation. Recognizing the emotional, physical, and financial toll these diseases can take, the federal government allows eligible claimants to recover compensation for their losses as well as full medical benefits.
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In order to be eligible for EEOICPA/RECA benefits, an individual must have been employed at a covered Department of Energy facility, an approved atomic weapons facility, or at a permitted beryllium vendor. An individual must also have one of the covered conditions as a result of exposure to radiation, beryllium, or silica while employed at an accepted facility. In addition, uranium miners, millers, and ore transporters are eligible for benefits if they develop an illness as a result of exposure to toxic substances (such as radiation, chemicals, solvents, acids, and metals) and worked at a facility covered under RECA. Eligibility requirements vary by location and condition.