In 2000, Former President Bill Clinton signed the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA). The program aims to compensate individuals working in nuclear facilities who contracted certain illnesses as a result of radiologic exposure in the workplace.
Under Part E of the EEOICPA, the benefits (compensation and payment) of medical expenses are available to employees, contractors, and subcontractors who have developed illnesses as a result of exposure to toxic substances. Toxic substances are not limited to radiation, but may also include substances such as chemicals, acids, and metals. Compensation is determined based on wage loss, impairment, and survivorship.
Wage loss accounts to the number of years an individual is unable to work due to the illness. Workers who had to retire early because of the illness are compensated based on the remaining years before their supposed retirement.
Impairment compensations can also be awarded to employees who suffered permanent loss of function of a body part or an organ due to illnesses covered in the program. A medical evaluation is usually done to determine the extent of impairment. For every 1% of impairment the doctor rates, the worker is paid $2500. However, the Department of Labor (DOL) must first determine that the employee has contracted the illness because of exposure to a toxic substance at a facility covered by the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.
In case that the employee has passed away due to the illness, surviving family members are eligible to receive compensation between $125,000 and $175,000. $125,000 is the base compensation. Another $25,000 is added for every 10 years before the employee has reached his or her retirement age. That is, if the employee died at the age of 45, surviving family members would receive $125,000 in base compensation plus an additional $50,000 for the 20 years lost before his or her retirement at age 65. Additional compensations are capped at $50,000. Compensations in Part E of EEOICPA are capped at $250,000, excluding medical expenses.
You are not alone in working in a potentially hazardous environment. The law covers your needs and rights.