Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program
The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICP) was passed in 2000 and is designed to compensate individuals who worked in nuclear weapons production and as a result of occupational exposures contracted certain illnesses. The law was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on December 7, 2000.
Executive Order 13179
Executive Order 13179 states the following:
Since World War II, hundreds of thousands of men and women have served their Nation in building its nuclear defense. In the course of their work, they overcame previously unimagined scientific and technical challenges. Thousands of these courageous Americans, however, paid a high price for their service, developing disabling or fatal illnesses as a result of exposure to beryllium, ionizing radiation, and other hazards unique to nuclear weapons production and testing. Too often, these workers were neither adequately protected from, nor informed of, the occupational hazards to which they were exposed.
Existing workers’ compensation programs have failed to provide for the needs of these workers and their families. Federal workers’ compensation programs have generally not included these workers. Further, because of long latency periods, the uniqueness of the hazards to which they were exposed, and inadequate exposure data, many of these individuals have been unable to obtain State workers’ compensation benefits. This problem has been exacerbated by the past policy of the Department of Energy (DOE) and its predecessors of encouraging and assisting DOE contractors in opposing the claims of workers who sought those benefits. This policy has recently been reversed.
While the Nation can never fully repay these workers or their families, they deserve recognition and compensation for their sacrifices. Since the Administration’s historic announcement in July 1999 that it intended to compensate DOE nuclear weapons workers who suffered occupational illnesses as a result of exposure to the unique hazards in building the Nation’s nuclear defense, it has been the policy of this Administration to support fair and timely compensation for these workers and their survivors. The Federal Government should provide necessary information and otherwise help employees of the DOE or its contractors determine if their illnesses are associated with conditions of their nuclear weapons-related work; it should provide workers and their survivors with all pertinent and available information necessary for evaluating and processing claims; and it should ensure that this program minimizes the administrative burden on workers and their survivors, and respects their dignity and privacy. This order sets out agency responsibilities to accomplish these goals, building on the Administration’s articulated principles and the framework set forth in the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000. The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Energy shall be responsible for developing and implementing actions under the Act to compensate these workers and their families in a manner that is compassionate, fair, and timely. Other Federal agencies, as appropriate, shall assist in this effort.
The program is administered by the Department of Labor (DOL). EEOICP, as amended, has five sections: Part B covers individuals, or certain survivors of individuals, who worked at a covered facility and have developed beryllium disease, silicosis, or a cancer-related illness as a result of radiation exposure. Part E is for individuals, or certain survivors of individuals, who developed any illness that resulted from exposure to toxins. Compensation under Part B is a lump sum payment of $150,000, except for eligible individuals who already received payment under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). RECA individuals will only receive a lump sum payment of $50,000. In addition to the lump sum payment, compensation includes medical benefits from the date an individual files a claim. Compensation under Part E is variable up to $250,000 based on wage loss, impairment, and survivorship.
DOL sends claims filed under Part B of the Act for cancers that may have been caused by occupational radiation exposure to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)  for a radiation dose reconstruction. NIOSH requests the energy employee’s individual exposure records from DOE and interviews the claimant or survivors to obtain information to use in the dose reconstruction. NIOSH also collects all relevant data regarding the individual’s work site, if available, to complete the dose reconstruction. Once the dose reconstruction is complete, NIOSH sends the dose reconstruction back to DOL and DOL makes compensation decisions. The office responsible for completing dose reconstructions for NIOSH is the Office of Compensation Analysis and Support (OCAS).
All other Part B claims and all Part E claims remain at DOL for review and compensation determinations.
Since 2001, EEOICP has provided almost $10 billion in benefits to sick workers and their families.