U.S. Sen. Casey wants more funds to help in reducing black lung backlog
Sen. Bob Casey and a group of fellow Democrats want to quadruple the increase the White House requested for the Department of Labor budget to fight a backlog of coal miners' black lung benefits cases.
An extra $10 million, on top of the $2.9 million increase sought by President Obama, would allow the department to hire 20 more hearing officers nationwide, including several for the overwhelmed Pittsburgh office, Casey said on Wednesday.
“They deserve a fair measure of justice,” he said about thousands of miners awaiting rulings from the department and its administrative law judges on claims for black lung benefits. The incurable disease has killed more than 76,000 miners since 1968.
Casey and seven fellow senators and congressmen — including Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — wrote to the Office of Management and Budget on July 29 explaining why the Labor Department needs $10 million more than proposed.
The letter reiterates points Casey outlined during a Senate committee hearing last month. A shortage of administrative law judges — Pittsburgh has only two — caused a backlog of claims. Miners wait more than a year to get their benefit claims assigned to a judge, and a combined 42 months for a decision.
Miners are struggling to find lawyers to represent them when coal companies appeal the claims because of the time it takes, delaying any potential payment, said Lynda Glagola, chair of the National Coalition of Black Lung and Respiratory Disease Clinics.
Glagola, an advocate at the Lungs at Work clinic in McMurray, appeared with Casey and a retired miner to discuss his efforts in the courtyard at the Allegheny County Courthouse, Downtown.
“Why is the government letting the companies get away with this?” asked David Wilson, 66, of Greensboro in Greene County, who got a lung transplant in 2012 after working 33 years underground.
David Conti is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Experts: If health insurers’ safeguard goes broke, consumers could pay
- Camera prevalence approaches sci-fi realm
- Scented society is killing cheap perfume industry
- Nike, Under Armour invest in watching exercisers’ steps
- Mylan raises bid for fellow drugmaker; Perrigo says ‘no’
- Paper’s prevalence unlikely to diminish
- Rules could kick door open for nuclear power
- Visa limits vex businesses
- ‘Promposals’ can be small as burritos, big as Jumbotrons
- Tech sector drives gains on Wall Street
- Pittsburgh area home prices climb in first quarter