Tell Congress: Support coal miners with black lung disease

A miner's helmet with tax caption that reads "Pass the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act" and "#BlackLungKills."

Black lung disease — a deadly and debilitating disease caused by coal mining — is on the rise in Appalachia. Coal miners with the disease are eligible to receive a monthly stipend and healthcare, but coal companies often fight against these cases for years in court so they don’t have to pay for the benefits.  

In November, Congress reintroduced the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act in both chambers. In December, U.S. representatives introduced the Relief for the Survivors of Miners Act for the first time in the House. These two bills will help coal miners and their families more easily access black lung benefits.

The Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act: The black lung benefits claims process can take years and many miners don’t have legal representation, leaving them to fight coal companies’ lawyers on their own. Also, the monthly stipend for a coal miner with black lung disease hasn’t kept up with inflation since it was created in 1969. Miners and their families often have difficulty paying for the medical tests that could help prove they got black lung disease from coal mining.

The Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act will increase the monthly stipend a coal miner receives and adjust it annually for inflation. It will also provide better access to legal representation by allowing attorneys to receive some payment for their work during the claims process, rather than at the end.

Relief for Survivors of Miners Act: Spouses and dependents of coal miners are eligible for black lung benefits if the miner died of black lung disease, but they often face difficulties if they apply after their loved one dies. The Relief for Survivors of Miners Act, developed after years of advocacy from the Black Lung Association, would help level the playing field for those families who are struggling to buy groceries each month.

Tell your lawmakers: Sign on in support of the Relief for Survivors of Miners Act and the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act!