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Front Page » November 22, 2005 » Local News » Company presents uranium workers benefit seminar at Price
Published 3,074 days ago

Company presents uranium workers benefit seminar at Price


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By TOM McCOURT
Sun Advocate reporter


Ron Elmlinger from Professional Care Management speaks with Don Gonzales and attendees at the uranium workers compensation seminar in Price. The Nov. 16 session was presented at the senior citizens center

Representatives from Professional Case Management, a home health company headquartered in Denver, Colo., came to Price on Nov. 16 to present a seminar on government programs and benefits for uranium workers.

The informative event was presented at the senior citizens center and the education session was attended by 25 former uranium workers or members of their families.

The purpose of the seminar was to inform people who have worked in the uranium industry of recent legislation that provides cash and health care benefits to former employees with health problems related to radiation exposure.

Ronald Elmlinger and Michael Nisbet from Professional Case Management travel throughout the west presenting the seminar.

"Our mission is to communicate government programs to you," pointed out Nisbet. He said he is appalled that so many people from the uranium industry do not know of the government benefits available to them.

The United States Congress first approved a uranium workers compensation package in 1990, but the government has made little effort to advertise the program or to contact former uranium workers, explained Nisbet.

Everywhere the company representatives visit, Nesbit said he and Elmlinger find ex-uranium miners, millers and haulers who qualify for benefits, but who have no idea that the program is available to them.

As a group, he said uranium workers and miners are a proud and independent lot in general and often don't want what they see as government handouts.

"But this is not a handout. This compensation package is a thank you for your service to our country. You deserve it," said Nesbit. "You helped us win the cold war."

It was explained that uranium miners, millers (those who processed the ore), and haulers (truck drivers and railroad workers), are eligible for two different compensation programs.

To qualify for the programs, people must have worked in the uranium industry for at least one year prior to 1971, or can document 40 or more working level months where they were subjected to radon exposure.

The worker must also be diagnosed with an occupational disease such as primary lung cancer, pulmonary fibrosis, pneumoconiosis, silicosis or cor pulmonate - enlargement of the right side of the heart due to diminished lung capacity.

Millers and haulers also qualify if the former uranium workers have kidney cancer or kidney disease.

The families of workers who have died with occupational diseases may also file for the benefit if the work history and nature of the illness of their loved one can be documented.

The first program is called RECA - the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, passed in 1990.

To be eligible, residents must have worked with uranium in seven western states for one year prior to 1971 and be diagnosed with an occupational illness. They can receive a $100,000 cash benefit.

The second program is called EEOICPA - Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act. It was passed in 2000. This program pays an additional $50,000 in cash to impacted workers. Any worker qualifying for the RECA benefit automatically qualifies for the additional EEOICPA money, but only if they apply for it. An additional benefit of the EEOICPA program is a medical benefit that pays the cost of treatment of occupational illness. The program will pay for home nursing up to 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Professional Case Management provides such care and that is their interest in promoting the program.

In 2004, President Bush signed a new, Part E, of the EEOICPA into law. Under Part E, miners, millers, and haulers who qualify may be eligible for an additional $250,000 based upon the amount of impairment and months and years of lost work they incurred. Widows of workers, and children who were under the age of 18 at the time of the workers death, my also apply for the Part E benefit. Department of Labor Energy Resource Centers are now accepting applications for the new Part E benefit.

As an additional benefit of the Part E program, the law mandates that lawyers helping workers apply for benefits can charge no more than 2% of the moneys collected, and they cannot require the worker to pay any cash in advance for lawyer services. PCM has a list of reputable attorneys who are willing to help workers under those terms.

To receive benefits, uranium workers must apply at both of the following locations: RECA, Department of Justice, Washington, DC. (RECA benefit applications information), 1-800- 729-7327 toll free. And, Rocky Flats Resource Center, Westminster, Colorado (EEOICPA applications and information, Part E applications and information.) 1-866-540-4977 toll free. For additional information, or to inquire about home nursing care, interested parties may contact Professional Care Management at 1-888-886-2281.



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