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Did you know the EEOICPA Ombudsman doesn’t just receive and report complaints? He also makes recommendations to DOL to improve the program

November 7, 2019

November 7, 2019

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Industry News

EEOICPA Ombudsman Submits Recommendations to DOL to Improve Compensation Program.

The Ombudsman’s 2018 Report to Congress provides insight into some of the common issues claimants face when filing a claim under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICPA).  This report identifies the most common problems claimants share with the Ombudsman’s office.  As a result of these requests for assistance and complaints received by the office, the Ombudsman report provides some helpful hints for claimants and offers recommendations to the Department of Labor’s Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (DEEOIC)) which could improve the program.

  • Recommend that DEEOIC continue to hold, and if possible, increase the number of outreach events that it sponsors each year.
  • Work with the Department of Energy and the Former Worker Programs to distribute EEOICPA information about EEOICPA to their mailing lists.
  • Utilize regional and national media, and other outlets, such as AARP, to disseminate information about this program.
  • DEEOIC should include a document that describes some of the more common resources available to claimants, and provide information on where to find these resources, including the web address where relevant, in packets they send to claimants.
  • Provide a tutorial on for claimants explaining how to navigate some of the resources such as how to use the Site Exposure Matrix and the Medical Provider databases.
  • More effort needs to be undertaken to ensure that claimants are able to promptly talk to their claims examiner and hearing representative, and that their messages are promptly returned.
  • Claimants need to be informed that they can request their claim file or documents from their claim file.
  • DEEOIC needs to clarify its policy/procedure of working with the claimant’s treating physician.
  • A statement from DEEOIC encouraging the submission of comments and customer service complaints, and outlining how to submit these comments and complaints, should be posted on DEEOIC’s website.
  • Where DEEOIC recommends or suggests that a claimant withdraw a claim, DEEOIC should provide the claimant with the reasons for withdrawing the claim, and should explain the impact that withdrawing the claim will have if the claimant ever wants to reactivate that claim.
  • To assist claimants in navigating this complicated program we recommend that:
    • DEEOIC clarify the role of the Resource Center.
    • When an online resource is referenced in a letter or decision, DEEOIC should include the web address for that resource.
  • DEEOIC continue to emphasize the importance of well-reasoned and well-rationalized decisions that acknowledge the relevant evidence submitted by claimants, and explains why this evidence is credited or not credited.
  • DEEOIC should work directly with medical providers when there is a billing issue.
  • Consideration should be given to a more effective way of providing claimants with the step-by-step instructions they often need.

Click Here to read entire report.