Public Law 91-173*
91st Congress, S. 2917
December 30, 1969
TITLE IV--BLACK LUNG
Part A--General. 401. Congress finds and declares that there are a significant number of coal miners living today who are totally disabled due to pneumoconiosis arising out of employment in one or more of the Nation's coal mines; that there are a number of survivors of coal miners whose deaths were due to this disease or who were totally disabled by this disease at the time of their deaths; and that few States provide benefits for death or disability due to this disease to coal miners or their surviving dependents. It is, therefore, the purpose of this subchapter to provide benefits, in cooperation with the States, to coal miners who are totally disabled due to pneumoconiosis and to the surviving dependents of miners whose death was due to such disease or who were totally disabled by this disease at the time of their deaths; and to insure that in the future adequate benefits are provided to coal miners and their dependents in the event of their death or total disability due to pneumoconiosis.
. 402. For purposes of this title--
(a) The term "dependent" means a wife or child who is a dependent as that term is defined for purposes of section 8110 of title 5, United States Code.
(b) The term "pneumoconiosis" means a chronic dust disease of the lung arising out of employment in an underground coal mine.
(c) The term "Secretary" where used in part B means the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, and where used in part C means the Secretary of Labor.
(d) The term "miner" means any individual who is or was employed in an underground coal mine.
(e) The term "widow" means the wife living with or dependent for support on the decedent at the time of his death, or living apart for reasonable cause or because of his desertion, who has not remarried.
(f) The term "total disability" has the meaning given it by regulations of the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, but such regulations shall not provide more restrictive criteria than those applicable under section 223(d) of the Social Security Act.
Part B--Claims for Benefits Filed on or Before December 31, 1972. 411. (a) The Secretary shall, in accordance with the provisions of this part, and the regulations promulgated by him under this part, make payments of benefits in respect of total disability of any miner due to pneumoconiosis, and in respect of the death of any miner whose death was due to pneumoconiosis.
(b) The Secretary shall by regulation prescribe standards for determining for purposes of section 411(a) whether a miner is totally disabled due to pneumoconiosis and for determining whether the death of a miner was due to pneumoconiosis. Regulations required by this subsection shall be promulgated and published in the Federal Register at the earliest practicable date after the date of enactment of this title, and in no event later than the end of the third month following the month in which this title is enacted. Such regulations may be modified or additional regulations promulgated from time to time thereafter.
(c) For purposes of this section--
(2) if a deceased miner was employed for ten years or more in one or more underground coal mines and died from a respirable disease there shall be a rebuttable presumption that his death was due to pneumoconiosis; and
(3) if a miner is suffering or suffered from a chronic dust disease of the lung which (A) when diagnosed by chest roentgenogram, yields one or more large opacities (greater than one centimeter in diameter) and would be classified in category A, B, or C in the International Classification of Radiographs of the Pneumoconioses by the International Labor Organization, (B) when diagnosed by biopsy or autopsy, yields massive lesions in the lung, or (C) when diagnosis is made by other means, would be a condition which could reasonably be expected to yield results described in clause (A) or (B) if diagnosis had been made in the manner prescribed in clause (A) or (B), then there shall be an irrebuttable presumption that he is totally disabled due to pneumoconiosis or that his death was due to pneumoconiosis or that at the time of his death he was totally disabled by pneumoconiosis, as the case may be.
. 412. (a) Subject to the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, benefit payments shall be made by the Secretary under this part as follows:
(1) In the case of total disability of a miner due to pneumoconiosis, the disabled miner shall be paid benefits during the disability at a rate equal to 50 per centum of the minimum monthly payment to which a Federal employee in grade GS-2, who is totally disabled, is entitled at the time of payment under chapter 81 of title 5, United States Code.
(2) In the case of death of a miner due to pneumoconiosis or of a miner receiving benefits under this part, benefits shall be paid to his widow (if any) at the rate the deceased miner would receive such benefits if he were totally disabled.
(3) In the case of an individual entitled to benefit payments under clause (1) or (2) of this subsection who has one or more dependents, the benefit payments shall be increased at the rate of 50 per centum of such benefit payments, if such individual has one dependent, 75 per centum if such individual has two dependents, and 100 per centum if such individual has three or more dependents.
(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a), benefit payments under this section to a miner or his widow shall be reduced, on a monthly or other appropriate basis, by an amount equal to any payment received by such miner or his widow under the workmen's compensation, unemployment compensation, or disability insurance laws of his State on account of the disability of such miner, and the amount by which such payment would be reduced on account of excess earnings of such miner under section 203(b) through (1) of the Social Security Act if the amount paid were a benefit payable under section 202 of such Act.
(c) Benefits payable under this part shall be deemed not to be income for purposes of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.
. 413. (a) Except as otherwise provided in section 414 of this title, no payment of benefits shall be made under this part except pursuant to a claim filed therefor on or before December 31, 1972, in such manner, in such form, and containing such information, as the Secretary shall by regulation prescribe.
(b) In carrying out the provisions of this part, the Secretary shall to the maximum extent feasible (and consistent with the provisions of this part) utilize the personnel and procedures he uses in determining entitlement to disability insurance benefit payments under section 223 of the Social Security Act. Claimants under this part shall be reimbursed for reasonable medical expenses incurred by them in establishing their claims. For purposes of determining total disability under this part, the provisions of subsections (a), (b), (c), (d), and (g) of section 221 of such Act shall be applicable.
(c) No claim for benefits under this section shall be considered unless the claimant has also filed a claim under the applicable State workmen's compensation law prior to or at the same time his claim was filed for benefits under this section; except that the foregoing provisions of this paragraph shall not apply in any case in which the filing of a claim under such law would clearly be futile because the period within which such a claim may be filed thereunder has expired or because pneumoconiosis is not compensable under such law, or in any other situation in which, in the opinion of the Secretary, the filing of a claim would clearly be futile.
. 414. (a) No claim for benefits under this part on account of total disability of a miner shall be considered unless it is filed on or before December 31, 1972, or, in the case of a claimant who is a widow, within six months after the death of her husband or by December 31, 1972, whichever is the later.
(b) No benefits shall be paid under this part after December 31, 1972, if the claim therefor was filed after December 31, 1971.
(c) No benefits under this part shall be payable for any period prior to the date a claim therefor is filed.
(d) No benefits shall be paid under this part to the residents of any State which, after the date of enactment of this Act, reduces the benefits payable to persons eligible to receive benefits under this part, under its State laws which are applicable to its general work force with regard to workmen's compensation, unemployment compensation, or disability insurance.
(e) No benefits shall be payable to a widow under this part on account of the death of a miner unless (1) benefits under this part were being paid to such miner with respect to disability to pneumoconiosis prior to his death, or (2) the death of such miner occurred prior to January 1, 1973.
Part C--Claims for Benefits After December 31, 1972. 421. (a) On and after January 1, 1973, any claim for benefits for death or total disability due to pneumoconiosis shall be filed pursuant to the applicable State workmen's compensation law, except that during any period when miners or their surviving widows are not covered by a State workmen's compensation law which provides adequate coverage for pneumoconiosis they shall be entitled to claim benefits under this part.
(b)(1) For purposes of this section, a State workmen's compensation law shall not be deemed to provide adequate coverage for pneumoconiosis during any period unless it is included in the list of state laws found by the Secretary to provide such adequate coverage during such period. The Secretary shall, no later than October 1, 1972, publish in the Federal Register a list of State workmen's compensation laws which provide adequate coverage for pneumoconiosis and shall revise and republish in the Federal Register such list from time to time, as may be appropriate to reflect changes in such State laws due to legislation or judicial or administrative interpretation.
(2) The Secretary shall include a State workmen's compensation law on such list during any period only if he finds that during such period under such law--
(B) the amount of such cash benefits is substantially equivalent due to or greater than the amount of benefits prescribed by section 412(a) of this title;
(C) the standards for determining death or total disability due to pneumoconiosis are substantially equivalent to those established by section 411, and by the regulations of the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare promulgated thereunder;
(D) any claim for benefits on account of total disability or death of a miner due to pneumoconiosis is deemed to be timely filed if such claim is filed within three years of the discovery of total disability due to pneumoconiosis, or the date of such death, as the case may be;
(E) there are in effect provisions with respect to prior and successor operators which are substantially equivalent to the provisions contained in section 422(i) of this part; and
(F) there are applicable such other provisions, regulations or interpretations, which are consistent with the provisions contained in Public Law 803, 69th Congress (44 Stat. 1424, approved March 4, 1927), as amended, which are applicable under section 422(a) of this title, but are not inconsistent with any of the criteria set forth in subparagraphs (A) through (E) of this paragraph, as the Secretary, in accordance with regulations promulgated by him, determines to be necessary or appropriate to assure adequate compensation for total disability or death due to pneumoconiosis.
. 422. (a) During any period after December 31, 1972, in which a State workmen's compensation law is not included on the list published by the Secretary under section 421(b) of this part, the provisions of Public Law 803, 69th Congress (44 Stat. 1424, approved March 4, 1927), as amended (other than the provisions contained in sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 37, 38, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, and 51 thereof) shall (except as otherwise provided in this subsection and except as the Secretary shall by regulation otherwise provided), be applicable to each operator of an underground coal mine in such State with respect to death or total disability due to pneumoconiosis arising out of employment in such mine. In administering this part, the Secretary is authorized to prescribe in the Federal Register such additional provisions, not inconsistent with those specifically excluded by this subsection, as he deems necessary to provide for the payment of benefits by such operator to persons entitled thereto as provided in this part and thereafter those provisions shall be applicable to such operator.
(b) During any such period each such operator shall be liable for and shall secure the payment of benefits, as provided in this section and section 423 of this part.
(c) Benefits shall be paid during such period by each such operator under this section to the categories of persons entitled to benefits under section 412(a) of this title in accordance with the regulations of the Secretary and the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare applicable under this section: Provided, That, except as provided in subsection (i) of this section, no benefit shall be payable by any operator on account of death or total disability due to pneumoconiosis which did not arise, at least in part, out of employment in a mine during the period when it was operated by such operator.
(d) Benefits payable under this section shall be paid on a monthly basis and, except as otherwise provided in this section, such payments shall be equal to the amounts specified in section 412(a) of this title.
(e) No payment of benefits shall be required under this section:
(2) for any period prior to January 1, 1973; or
(3) for any period after seven years after the date of enactment of this Act.
(g) The amount of benefits payable under this section shall be reduced, on a monthly or other appropriate basis, by the amount of any compensation received under or pursuant to any Federal or State workmen's compensation law because of death or disability due to pneumoconiosis.
(h) The regulations of the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare promulgated under section 411 of this title shall also be applicable to claims under this section. The Secretary of Labor shall by regulation establish standards, which may include appropriate presumptions, for determining whether pneumoconiosis arose out of employment in a particular underground coal mine or mines. The Secretary may also, by regulation, establish standards for apportioning liability for benefits under this subsection among more than one operator, where such apportionment is appropriate.
(i) (1) During any period in which this section is applicable with respect to a coal mine an operator of such mine who, after the date of enactement of this title, acquired such mine or substantially all the assets thereof from a person (hereinafter referred to in this paragraph as a "prior operator") who was an operator of such mine on or after the operative date of this title shall be liable for and shall, in accordance with section 423 of this part, secure the payment of all benefits which would have been payable by the prior operator under this section with respect to miners previously employed in such mine if the acquisition had not occurred and the prior operator had continued to operate such mine.
(2) Nothing in this subsection shall relieve any prior operator of any liability under this section.
. 423. (a) During any period in which a State workmen's compensation law is not included on the list published by the Secretary under section 421(b) each operator of an underground coal mine in such State shall secure the payment of benefits for which he is liable under section 422 of this title by (1) qualifying as a self-insurer in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary, or (2) insuring and keeping insured the payment of such benefits with any stock company or mutual company or association, or with any other person or fund, including any State fund, while such company, association, person or fund is authorized under the laws of any State to insure workmen's compensation.
(b) In order to meet the requirements of clause (2) of subsection (a) of this section, every policy or contract of insurance must contain--
(2) a provision that insolvency or bankruptcy of the operator or discharge therein (or both) shall not relieve the carrier from liability for such payments; and
(3) such other provisions as the Secretary, by regulation, may require.
. 424. If a totally disabled miner or a widow is entitled to benefits under section 422 and (1) an operator liable for such benefits has not obtained a policy or contract of insurance, or qualified as a self-insurer, as required by section 423 of this title, or such operator has not paid such benefits within a reasonable time, or (2) there is no operator who was required to secure the payment of such benefits, the Secretary shall pay such miner or such widow the benefits to which he or she is so entitled. In a case referred to in clause (1), the operator shall be liable to the United States in a civil action in an amount equal to the amount paid to such miner or his widow under this title.
. 425. With the consent and cooperation of State agencies charged with administration of State workmen's compensation laws, the Secretary may, for the purpose of carrying out his functions and duties under section 422, utilize the services of State and local agencies and their employees and, notwithstanding any other provision of law, may advance funds to or reimburse such State and local agencies and their employees for services rendered for such purposes.
. 426. (a) The Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare are authorized to issue such regulations as each deems appropriate to carry out the provisions of this title. Such regulations shall be issued in conformity with section 553 of title 5 of the United States Code, notwithstanding subsection (a) thereof.
(b) Within 120 days following the convening of each session of Congress the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare shall submit to the Congress an annual report upon the subject matter of part B of this title, and, after January 1, 1973, the Secretary of Labor shall also submit such a report upon the subject matter of part C of this title.
(c) Nothing in this title shall relieve any operator of the duty to comply with any State workmen's compensation law, except insofar as such State law is in conflict with the provisions of this title and the Secretary by regulation, so prescribes. The provisions of any State workmen's compensation law which provide greater benefits than the benefits payable under this subchapter shall not thereby be construed or held to be in conflict with the provisions of this title.