The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs has recommended a proposed rule to amend the Black Lung Benefits Act that was implemented in Section 1556 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The PPACA reinstates two provisions centering on coal miners' and survivors' entitlement to benefits that had been cut by 1981 amendments to the BLBA. This includes 30 United States Code 921(c)(4), which presumes total disability or death caused by pneumoconiosis for coal miners who worked for a minimum of 15 years underground or in a comparable mining environment as well as those who suffer or suffered from a totally disabling respiratory impairment. The second amendment is 30 U.S.C. 932(l), and this provides automatic entitlement for eligible miner survivors are eligible to receive benefits because of a lifetime claim. The proposed rule also includes multiple changes to outdated or unnecessary regulations  in line with Executive Order 13536.

The proposed rule focuses on both new methods of establishing entitlement, which includes the automatic entitlement of certain survivors and the 15-year presumption as it applies claims from miners as well as their survivors. Under the proposed rule, the amendment will apply to claims filed on or after the March 23, 2010, and all claims filed after Jan. 1, 2005, that were pending on or after the enactment date.

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