If you, your spouse, parent, or grandparent ever worked for an Atomic Weapons Employer (AWE) or Department of Energy (DOE) facility, and if any of these people has a condition or died as a result of illness covered by the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA), you may have filled out and filed a claim, then hoped for compensation.
But what if you find out your EEOICPA claim status, and your claim has been denied? Where do you go from there?
You are not alone. Approximately 50 percent of the people who apply for EEOICPA claims have been denied. But that doesn’t mean you should give up!
We at Stephens & Stephens can guide the way and help you refile a claim. The result? You may finally get the compensation you deserve.
Let’s take a look at a recent case where an EEOICPA claim gone wrong and not challenged led to some sad results.
In July, 2017, Chad Walde was laid to rest in Albuquerque, NM. He died from a rare form of brain cancer as a result of radiation exposure while working at Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, NM. Chad was 44. Before Chad died, he was one of 1,400 people who claimed to have become ill from exposure. A total of 335 dead workers joined the ranks of people who had claims filed on their behalves.
When Chad had learned about the EEOICPA program that Congress established in 2000 to help make up for the U.S. government harmed its nuclear workers, he filed a claim for federal benefits. He thought he would qualify for a $150,000 lump sum plus medical benefits paid for by the government. He met certain criteria. He had worked at Los Alamos for more than the year required (the parameters were 1996 to 2005) and he had one of the 22 cancers on the government’s list for coverage.
The Department of Labor said they would need all of his medical and radiation-exposure records. Their plan was to send these records to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH uses an equation to determine the probability of a worker having a high enough dose of radiation to cause cancer. If the probability registered at 50 percent or higher, he could get benefits. These benefits were earmarked in part for workers who may have gotten cancer from radiation exposure while working at Department of Energy Facilities, including Los Alamos.
As it turned out, Los Alamos had no records of their own about Chad’s exposure since he began work for them in 1999. It turns out Chad wasn’t alone. Other workers suspected the lab kept inaccurate records of their exposure, and they denied workers claims as a result.
Chad must have been devastated to learn of his EEOICPA claim status. DOL determined that Chad had only a 2.67 percent chance of getting cancer as a result of radiation exposure. They denied his claim. Since 1996, DOL has denied 45 percent of worker claims for cancer and beryllium disease. Instead of having the opportunity to appeal his claim, Chad succumbed to cancer.
When it comes to your EEOICPA claim status, resurrecting denied claims is just one of the things we can help you with. If you’re just starting out, we can help with new claims. We can also help you with appeals and terminal claims, impairment ratings, and dose reconstructions.
Whether you have just learned about EEOICPA programs or you have just finished your fourth impairment rating, Stephens & Stephens can help. We will answer your questions and can add you to our mailing list for up to date developments with the program. Our trusted EEOICPA team can be reached at (800) 548-4494 or via email at [email protected].
Contact us anytime. We are managing claims 24 hours per day. We are happy to help and hope to hear from you soon.