I'd like to welcome you to the Labor Department website for the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program. My goal is to respond as quickly as possible to those who were harmed in service to their country, and this website is part of our commitment to that goal.
The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act was passed in Congress to compensate American workers who put their health on the line to help fight the Cold War. Many of these workers developed cancer and other serious diseases because they were exposed to radiation, beryllium or silica in the course of doing their jobs. They and their families have paid dearly for their role in protecting our democracy.
Through this law, eligible employees with covered illnesses will receive $150,000 in lump-sum payments, and prospective medical expenses related to their disease will be paid. Also, lump-sum payments of $50,000 and prospective medical benefits will be paid to some workers who have been determined as eligible for benefits under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. Specified survivors of covered employees are also entitled to receive compensation.
The Labor Department has primary responsibility for administering this program, and it's one we take very seriously. We have been working closely with the Energy Department, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Justice Department, which also have significant roles in administering the Act.
We began processing claims on July 31st, 2001. Although the program is complicated, we are trying to make the claims process as user-friendly as possible. Information on filing claims will be posted on this website. We have opened a national call center that you can contact toll-free with questions about the program. The call center number is (866) 888-3322.
Because my home is in Kentucky, a state where thousands of nuclear workers and their families are located, this issue has personal and emotional resonance with me. My concern is that we take care of men and women who were harmed as a result of loyal service to their country. It is my hope that this program will repay them in some small way for all they've lost.
Elaine L. Chao