Georgia workers’ compensation claimants may have to go through multiple appeals to obtain the benefits they deserve. Such was the situation in a recent case involving a coal miner who was attempting to obtain benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the claimant worked as a coal miner for about 30 years, during which he suffered two heart attacks. Despite having difficulty breathing, the claimant continued to work. Evidently, he smoked cigarettes for many years but quit smoking after his first heart attack. The claimant’s breathing problems became severe about six years after he had stopped working as a coal miner. He used an oxygen monitor and supplemental oxygen when his oxygen levels got too low. After his breathing problems worsened, the claimant sought benefits under the Black Lung Benefits Act. His claim was first denied, but he successfully appealed. The claimant’s employer appealed to the state’s high court.
Benefits Under the Black Lung Benefits Act
The Black Lung Benefits Act was passed to provide compensation and medical benefits to coal miners to treat their lung injuries. The Act is meant to apply to coal miners who develop pneumoconiosis, a lung disease that is caused by inhaling dust. The Act also provides benefits to family members of coal miners whose deaths are attributable to the disease. The Division of Coal Mine Workers’ Compensation, also known as the Black Lung Program, administers claims filed under the Black Lung Benefits Act. The Division provides monthly compensation and medical coverage for treating covered lung diseases.