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How Did Congress Determine Which Illnesses EEOICPA Should Cover?FAQ

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The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICPA) is a federal program that was passed into law in December of 2000. Its core purpose is to provide financial support to people who worked in the nuclear weapons industry and who, as a result of their employment, were exposed to toxic substances and developed a serious occupational illness.

At United Energy Workers Healthcare and Four Corners Health Care, we provide free home healthcare services to EEOICPA and RECA beneficiaries. We want to make sure that every eligible applicant has the understanding and information that they need to protect their rights. Here, our team explains how the United States Congress determined which illnesses are covered by the EEOICPA.

EEOICPA: An Overview of the Important Legislative History

Signed by President Bill Clinton, the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program provides important legal protections to Department of Energy (DOE) workers and employees of contractors and subcontractors who directly supported the nuclear weapons industry. Sadly, a substantial number of employees who played a role in the nuclear weapons industry developed cancers, diseases, and other serious illnesses because they were exposed to toxic substances such as beryllium and radiation.

For a number of different reasons, the patchwork of workers’ compensation programs that exist all around the country failed to provide adequate support for these individuals. To start, many of them were federal employees who may not have been covered by a state’s workers’ compensation insurance system. Even more important, many common nuclear weapons industry-related occupational diseases have long latency periods — meaning employees did not actually get sick until well after the relevant statute of limitations had already expired.

This is the fundamental gap the EEOICPA was designed to cover: workers who developed serious illnesses, diseases, or medical conditions related to their employment, but who would not otherwise have a viable path to compensation. The EEOICPA gives them an opportunity to recover financial compensation and full coverage for their medical care.

The Illnesses Covered By the EEOICPA

Congress determined what illnesses are covered by the EEOICPA based on scientific research that has been used to link certain conditions to exposure to certain toxic substances (beryllium and radiation) that workers were forced to deal with when employed in the nuclear weapons industry.

Under current federal law, there are a number of different illnesses that are expressly covered by the EEOICPA. Some of the most notable examples include:

  • Beryllium illnesses;
  • Chronic silicosis; and
  • 22 different cancers, including leukemia, lung cancer, bone cancer, thyroid cancer, breast cancer, esophagus cancer, stomach cancer; pharynx cancer, small intestinal cancer, pancreatic cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and others.

To be clear, the diseases and medical conditions that are classified as “listed” are not necessarily the only illnesses that are covered by this federal program. Instead, these are merely the conditions for which causation is easier to establish. If an applicant can prove causation — meaning a likely connection between their medical condition and their time working at a DOE or AWE facility that is covered by the EEOICPA — then that condition may be covered as well.

Understanding Dose Reconstruction

Ultimately, that is the key thing to know about what illnesses congress selected to be covered by this federal program: conditions that can be connected to an employee’s time working in the nuclear weapons industry. The specific condition itself is secondary to the applicant’s ability to establish likely causation between their employment and the development of their illness.

The DOL uses a process called ‘dose reconstruction’ to try to establish causation. Under EEOICPA regulations, an applicant’s condition must be at least 50 percent likely to actually be related to their employment at a covered facility. It should be noted that the development of an illness that is ‘listed’ is not always sufficient to receive benefits under the EEOICPA. For example, if the federal government determines that an employee’s lung cancer was most likely caused by smoking cigarettes and not by their employment at a covered facility, then their claim for benefits can be denied on those grounds.   

Get Help From Our Home Healthcare Professionals Today

At United Energy Workers Healthcare and Four Corners Health Care, we are proud to proud top home healthcare services to EEOICPA beneficiaries are no cost to them. To get more information about what our team can do for you, please do not hesitate to contact us today. We are happy to offer any assistance in any way that we can.

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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.