Press Releases

WASHINGTON Today, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) in introducing the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act. The legislation helps miners who have suffered from ‘black lung’ disease and their survivors access the workers compensation they are entitled to receive under the Black Lung Benefits Program. The legislation helps miners and their survivors access legal representation, ensures benefits are not eroded due to inflation, reduces the time for processing claims and protects taxpayers from taking a hit when a self-insured coal company goes bankrupt and cannot pay black lung claims.

“Every day, Virginia’s coal miners put their health at risk to power our country. We owe it to those battling black lung disease as a result of their years of work to ensure that they receive the medical care they deserve,” said Sen. Warner. “This legislation will allow more miners and their families to access care and benefits as they face this diagnosis.”

“Virginia miners have helped power this nation for generations, risking their health and often developing deadly black lung disease while on the job,” said Sen. Kaine. “Following their sacrifice, they’ve earned benefits to help them combat this debilitating disease. This legislation will make it easier for miners and their family members to receive these benefits in a fair and timely manner.”

“For decades, our country has relied on coal miners to power our factories and heat our homes. Many coal workers risked their lives and their long-term health to do the job of powering years of prosperity, and Congress has an obligation to support them, just as they’ve supported us. This legislation would ensure that every coal miner who suffers from black lung disease receives the benefits they are entitled to,” said Sen. Casey. “Coal miners have pushed our country forward, and I’ll keep fighting to make sure they aren’t left behind.”

“Ohio miners put their health at risk to power our country,” said Sen. Brown. “They’ve suffered enough. They shouldn’t have to navigate an interminable claims process riddled with red tape, all to get the benefits they have earned.”

 “For generations, our brave coal miners have risked their lives and health to power our nation to greatness and as a result, many of our miners suffer from Black Lung Disease. After their enormous sacrifices, they have earned the vital treatment and medical care they need. I am proud to reintroduce the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act with my colleagues to help our miners access the benefits they are entitled to and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help us pass this crucial legislation that supports our coal miners who have given so much to our great nation,” said Sen. Manchin.

Decades ago, Congress established the Black Lung Benefits Act in conjunction with the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969 to provide monthly compensation and medical coverage for coal miners who develop black lung disease and are totally disabled. A GAO report found that miners often lack the necessary medical and legal resources to develop evidence to prove their claims. The Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act makes needed updates to the Black Lung Benefits Act to ensure Congress is fulfilling its commitment to the Nation’s coal miners. Senators Casey, Manchin, Brown, Kaine and Warner also introduced the Black Lung Benefits Disability Trust Fund Act in 2021 to extend the current black lung excise tax for another ten year period.

The Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act is endorsed by United Mineworkers (UMWA), Appalachian Citizens’ Law Center (UCLC), BlueGreen Alliance and Appalachian Voices.