Wage-loss claims are an important piece of Part E of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA). For claims involving wage-loss under EEOICPA, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) looks at the amount that the worker was making prior to the diagnosis of their accepted condition.
The claims examiner at the DOL compares that previous amount to the amount that the worker earned in subsequent years, to the extent that the amount is less than 75% of the amount that the worker earned prior to the diagnosis of the condition that caused them to lose wages.
It is the date of the first wage-loss that is important here.
The measurement is of the prior years’ earnings compared to that years’ earnings. If the earnings are less than 75% of what the worker earned prior to their first wage loss associated with the accepted claim, that worker receives $10,000 for that year of wage-loss under EEOICPA.
The wage loss compensation does not fully compensate the worker for the wages that were lost – it is more of a replacement income. And the total, if the amount is 75% less than the pre- wage-loss year, then the worker receives $10,000. If the total amount of the wage-loss is more than 50% (the worker’s wages are less than 50% of the year prior), then the total wage loss for that year is $15,000.
The Department of Labor performs these calculations by obtaining earnings records from the Social Security Administration. Those earnings records are prepared based on quarterly reporting. They look at the last three years of earnings prior to the first instance of wage-loss.
So, twelve quarters of wages are then divided by twelve and then in turn by three in order to come with a monthly wage, and then an average annual wage is calculated. This average annual wage is compared to the annual wage that the worker earned after her first period of wage loss.
Very often we run into DOE employees who work until they can no longer work due to their illness, then they retire and do not work at all subsequent to the first year of wage-loss. If the first year of wage loss is less than 75% but more than 50% and therefore the worker will receive $10,000 in compensation, and then thereafter each year would be no income and that would mean $15,000 paid per year.
Wage loss is only paid during those years prior to your social security retirement age so, in the early years, the retirement age was 65. Subsequent to that, the retirement age is a “moving target” – the DOL calculates the appropriate retirement age based on information from the Social Security Administration. That age is the same whether or not you decided to receive early social security such that you started receiving it at 62, etc. The relevant age is the social security retirement age.
For example, a worker who reached age 60 and stops working after being diagnosed with lung cancer, and lung cancer is what prevents them from working, they would then become eligible for wage-loss from 60-65 or from maybe from 60-67, depending on that workers’ social security retirement age.
Our article and video are meant to teach Energy Employees and their families about wage-loss under the EEOICPA. We work within this program every day to help claimants receive the compensation that they deserve.
Wage-loss applies to all uranium mine workers, all uranium mill workers, and all uranium ore transporters whose claims are accepted under the program. Wage-loss under EEOICPA also applies to nuclear weapons manufacturing industry workers.
If you need assistance filing a claim, providing proof and medical evidence, or learning about your options as the child of a deceased energy employee, our staff is happy to help you.
Contact us today to talk with someone about your eligibility for potential benefits.