Need for the Social Security Administration To Obtain Accurate Data on State Workmen's Compensation Payments for Computing Black Lung Benefits

HRD-78-109: Published: May 16, 1978. Publicly Released: May 16, 1978.

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Under the Black Lung Benefits Reform Act of 1977, black lung benefits paid to disabled miners can only be reduced by state benefits paid for a disability due to pneumoconiosis. According to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) if a state law provides that state workmen's compensation benefits are paid to widows as death benefits, the black lung benefits cannot be reduced. During June 1977, the Social Security Administration paid $76.3 million in black lung benefits to 463,467 people, with 86 percent of the benefits paid in nine states. Recipients were receiving both federal black lung benefits and state workmen's compensation payments in 1,766 cases, 1,470 for miners and 296 for widows. Most of the workmen's compensation awards to miners were for disability due to pneumoconiosis, and widows' benefits were not reduced because their workmen's compensation benefits were determined to be death benefits. Federal black lung benefits have been incorrectly paid in Pennsylvania and Kentucky because recipients have failed to report the receipt of workmen's compensation. Pennsylvania has incorrectly paid special state program benefits apparently because it has difficulty in identifying federal black lung recipients. The Secretary of HEW should direct the Commissioner of Social Security to: (1) obtain state workmen's compensation payment data from Pennyslvania, Kentucky, and other states for use in computing black lung payments; (2) periodically ask recipients if state benefits are being received; and (3) identify states that need federal black lung information.

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