A person filing a claim may generally authorize anyone to represent them in the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA) claims process. The individual so designated by the claimant is called an authorized representative. Over the years, a group of experts in the EEOICPA program have emerged to assist claimants with the complexities of the claims process. These experts are often referred to as “advocates”.
Once the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has received this designation in writing, the representative can talk to the DOL claims staff directly, have access to the claimant’s case file documentation, receive copies of decisions and correspondences, submit objections, file appeals and request medical authorizations.
Claimants don’t have to designate an advocate. However, sometimes situations come up when help from someone else may be necessary. Often, advocates are attorneys, former workers or others who have become experts in the claims process. Several typical situations in which an advocate may be helpful include:
- The claimant has a hard time understanding the paperwork or the claims process because of their physical limitations.
- The claimant doesn’t know how to track down the documentation that’s necessary to submit a claim.
- The claimant prefers another party to represent them who has more experience working with the claims process or government officials.
EEOICPA allows an advocate to charge a fee of 2% of an initial claim or 10% of the claim if it is re-filed after the DOL initially denies it. Note that an advocate may not already be receiving compensation from the DOL for other services.
Claimants can designate or change an advocate at any time. For help to contact a trusted advocate who is familiar with your history or situation, call the CWP Help Center toll-free at 800-903-8989.