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Incapability of Self-Support

It’s always hard to lose a family member, especially a parent. In addition to possible emotional stress or trauma, the loss of a parent can be a substantial financial setback. However, the children of deceased energy employees are potentially entitled to funds through the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA)—rewarding compensation to help ease the burden of a child’s loss.

The prime factor when determining the potential benefits of a surviving child is whether or not they are capable of “self-support.” A child is automatically considered “incapable of self-support” when they are under the age of 18-years-old or if they are enrolled full-time in school.

However, there are other ways to qualify for benefits as an adult over the age of 18-years-old. Several factors need to be considered, followed by sufficient proof. Luckily, we’re here to help you find whether or not the child of a deceased energy employee is potentially eligible for benefits.

What Qualifies as “Incapable of Self-Support”?

The EEOICPA defines the incapability of self-support as:

“The inability to obtain or retain employment, or engage in self-employment that provides a sustained living wage as a consequence of a physical or mental condition, illness or disease.” Federal EEOICPA Procedure Manual 2.0

Children of a deceased energy employee are potentially eligible for benefits when any physical or mental condition has prevented from supporting themselves at the time of their parents’ death. To determine this, two things must be established.

Firstly, the child must have been officially diagnosed with an illness or disease, which includes not only physical conditions but mental as well. Secondly, it needs to be proven that the child had this ailment at the time of their parent’s death.

It’s important to note that a child can be eligible whether their ailments are permanent or temporary. The physical or mental condition must have impaired their ability to work at that time. Luckily for potential claimants, any instance of temporary trauma, illness, or mental instability can be taken into consideration.

The EEOICPA manual tells us that “it is only required to establish that the child was incapable of self-support “on the day that the employee died,” so there is no need to prove that the child was incapable of self-support prior to the death of the employee.

Essentially, the Department of Labor is looking for proof that the child was not capable of maintaining a job that would provide them a “sustainable wage.” This could include full- or part-time work, as well as self-employment opportunities.

Basically, if an energy employee’s child suffered from a physical or mental condition that prevented them from supporting themselves at the time of the parent’s death, they are potentially eligible for benefits.

What Isn’t Taken Into Consideration for a Child’s Claim?

There are several factors that determine whether or not a child claimant was incapable of self-support. However, there are certain aspects of the situation that are not taken into consideration when filing a claim.

When explaining their period of unemployment, a child can not reference their area’s economic conditions or any personal restrictions (i.e. incarceration) to claim that they were unable to sustain themselves financially. The only factors that can be considered are those relating to the physical and mental capacity of the claimant.

What else is NOT a factor when determining the ability of self-support? Contrary to popular belief, marital status is not taken into consideration when filing a claim for the child of a deceased energy employee. Whether or not the child was entirely dependant on their parent for support, they may still be eligible for benefits through the Department of Labor.

EEIOCPA surviving children of energy employees

We’ve Established that the Child May Be Eligible… Now what?

Once it’s determined that the child was physically or mentally incapable of supporting themselves, the next step is to provide the needed evidence to support their claim. To prove incapability of self-support, the claimant’s doctor and attorney should scan any records that include conditions present at the time of the parent’s death.

The Federal (EEOICPA) Procedure Manual 2.0 states that proof of incapability of self-support can include: “medical records, social security disability records, tax returns showing that the covered child was claimed as a dependent, state guardianship documents, and affidavits.” However, “SSA or State disability records alone, showing lack of self-support, should not be used to establish that the child is incapable of self-support.”

When dealing with cases through the Department of Labor and EEOICPA, evidence must be evaluated as a whole. Only then can the case examiners determine if an energy employee’s child was incapable of self-support at the time of their parent’s death.

“When medical evidence demonstrates incapacity for self-support, this determination will stand unless refuted by sustained work performance or other conflicting evidence.”

Providing Proof to Support Your Claim

Providing proof can be simple if a claimant has easy access to their past medical history, along with records that support a diagnosed mental or physical condition. However, it can be difficult to prove a case that doesn’t have enough supporting evidence.

Whether or not the child of a deceased energy employee has access to their past records, we try our best to help them through the process. Essentially, the Department of Labor needs to have a professional opinion that shows a child was incapable of supporting themselves at the time of the parent’s death.

We are more than happy can refer you to someone our network of experienced doctors–doctors that have been working on EEOICPA claims for years. They can review any history that you have access to, and can talk to you about how claim and how to provide the best possible evidence.

For an example of a doctor’s note that proves “incapability of self-support,” contact us today.

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.

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