Were you diagnosed with cancer after being exposed to radiation as a downwinder? If so, you could be entitled to financial compensation. But to collect compensation as a downwinder, you’ll need to meet very specific criteria, as outlined in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). 

This federal statute provides compensation for uranium miners, millers, ore transporters, on-site participants at atomic nuclear weapons test sites, and downwinders. Learn more about who the downwinders are and what you can expect to be compensated if you win your RECA claim

Downwinders: A History

Downwinders are people who suffered exposure to radiation from the federal nuclear test site in Nevada back in the 1950s and 1960s. When these tests were done, the radioactive materials released what’s known as fallout. This fallout impacted individuals in parts of Nevada, Utah, and Arizona.

Air currents carried the fallout downwind, sometimes hundreds of miles away from the Nevada test site. There are specific areas across Nevada, Utah, and Arizona that were impacted. Many downwinders exposed to varying levels of radiation subsequently developed different types of cancers. 

In the effort to avoid a costly litigation process, the federal government enacted the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. Instead, downwinders are eligible for a lump sum financial compensation payment of as much as $50,000 from the Department of Justice. 

Downwinders could be entitled to as much as $300,000 across other government programs in addition to their RECA compensation benefits. 

RECA Requirements for Claims by Downwinders

Now that you know what RECA is, you may be wondering whether you are eligible for compensation. There are several requirements you’ll need to meet to file a claim as a downwinder. 

You may be entitled to compensation if you or a family member had internal cancer or leukemia within the last sixty-five years. The cancer you or they were diagnosed with must be related to exposure to radioactive fallout. Some of the more common types of cancer seen in RECA claims include:

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Brain cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Male or female breast cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Salivary gland cancer
  • Esophagus cancer
  • Stomach cancer 
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Small intestine cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Pharynx cancer
  • Lymphoma other than Hodgkins 
  • Liver cancer not associated with cirrhosis or hepatitis B
  • Leukemia other than chronic lymphocytic leukemia

You may also be entitled to compensation if you have or had cancer and lived in specific counties for a period of at least two years between January 21, 1951, and October 31, 1958, or during the entire month of July 1962. These areas and counties include:

  • Utah
    • Beaver
    • Garfield
    • Iron
    • Kane
    • Millard
    • Piute
    • San Juan
    • Sevier
    • Washington
    • Wayne
  • Nevada
    • Eureka
    • Lander
    • Lincoln
    • Nye
    • White Pine
    • The northern portion of Clark
  • Arizona 
    • Apache
    • Coconino
    • Gila
    • Navajo
    • Yavapai
    • part of Arizona north of the Grand Canyon

If you are still unsure whether you have grounds for a claim, check out these additional eligibility requirements you’ll need to meet to be awarded compensation under RECA:

  • Physical presence at any place within the affected area downwind of the Nevada test site (NTS)
  • Exposure: Must have been physically present (resided or worked) within the affected area for at least two years between January 21, 1951, and October 31, 1958, or for the entire continuous period between June 30 and July 31, 1962
  • Written medical documentation that you thereafter developed a specified compensable disease.

Contact a RECA Attorney Now

If you developed certain types of cancer after being exposed to radioactive fallout as a downwinder, you may be entitled to financial compensation through RECA. For RECA claims assistance, contact Stephens & Stephens at 716-852-7590 or fill out our free claim evaluation. Your RECA attorney can still offer help if you’ve already filed, even if your claim was denied!