Who Assists Claimants
January 6, 2018
January 6, 2018
There are a number of people involved with the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICP) whose purpose is to assist claimants. This assistance comes in many forms, including authorized represent individual claimants, and advocate organizations.
Examples of advocate organizations include Cold War Patriots, Alliance of Nuclear Worker Advocacy Groups, Tri-Valley CAREs, and Energy Employees Claimant Assistance Project, to name a few. These groups offer information and guidance to the claimants and are more involved with monitoring the overall implementation of the EEOICP by the federal agencies who administer the program – the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). There are also two federal entities who provide information and assistance to claimants. They are the EEOICP Ombudsman, Malcolm Nelson, and the NIOSH Ombudsman, Denise Brock. Look for a future blog on these two offices.
One last group that gets little attention for their work on behalf of the claimants are the people who petition NIOSH to include a nuclear weapons site in the Special Exposure Cohort (SEC). An employee who worked at a site with SEC status will not need to go through dose reconstruction if he or she has one of the twenty-two cancers specified in the legislation and meets the employment status criteria for the SEC years. As of August 31, 2017, 243 individual claimants or unions have filed petitions. Some were successful, others were not. Yet, thousands of claimants benefited from one individual or union filing a petition.
There are many reasons that these petitioners deserve kudos for their work. The SEC petition process can be daunting if NIOSH puts forth a position that they can reconstruct dose for the site.
Once NIOSH issues its Evaluation Report, which can run as much as 100 pages, the petitioner may be asked to provide additional evidence to the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health’s Work Groups if NIOSH’s report is not in the petitioner’s favor.
Locating the evidence to oppose NIOSH’s position entails hours and hours of research by the petitioners. They contact former co-workers to obtain testimony and documents. More time is spent listening to and participating in the Work Group’s meetings and reading the technical reports submitted by NIOSH and the board’s contractor, Sanford Cohen and Associates. The petitioners are also provided the opportunity to address the full board during the board’s quarterly in-person meetings. Petitioners provide the full board their analysis of NIOSH’s position, identify any inconsistencies and offer new evidence to the board. This presentation must be done in a clear and concise manner and delivered to the board in under ten minutes.
Many thanks to all who dedicate their time and expertise to assist those who file claims under this program.