Skip to content

Casey bill would ensure every coal miner who suffers from black lung disease receives the benefits they are entitled to

Since 1968, more than 76,000 people have died from as a result of ‘black lung’ disease

In Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing, Casey highlighted the struggles of miners, families fighting for health care, benefits they need

Casey: “There are few diseases where every breath you take, you can feel it… one of the many reasons we need to pass the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act.”

Watch full recording of hearing here and Casey’s questions here.

Washington, D.C. - Today, a U.S. Senate hearing highlighted U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)’s Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act to help miners who have suffered from ‘black lung’ disease and their survivors access the workers compensation they are entitled to receive under the Black Lung Benefits Program. During the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety hearing, Casey, a senior member of HELP, questioned experts on the hurdles mineworkers and their families face to getting care and benefits for black lung and why it is critically important to ease this burden. Casey also spoke about his grandfather’s experience working in the coal mines of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

“Our Nation has long relied on coal miners, so many of whom have risked their lives and their long-term health to do the job of powering years of prosperity,” said Senator Casey. “My bill will ensure that every coal miner who is suffering from black lung disease receives the benefits that they and their families are entitled to. With the most serious black lung cases still on the rise, we owe it to our miners to make damn sure they get the care and benefits they’ve earned.”

Senator Casey has been a consistent fighter for miners’ benefits, pushing for protections for miners’ pensions health care and Black Lung Benefits amid widespread coal company bankruptcies which led to him securing a permanent health care fix for retired coal miners and their families. In 2023, Casey urged the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to evaluate the adequacy of black lung benefits to ensure they meet the income and health care needs of disabled miners and their families.

Since 2014, Casey has led the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act, legislation to make needed updates to the Black Lung Benefits Act to ensure Congress is fulfilling its commitment to the nation’s coal miners. To help fulfill those promises, in August of 2022, Congress approved a permanent extension of the black lung excise tax to fund the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund that provides health insurance and a living stipend for those impacted by black lung as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.

Casey successfully pushed the Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to amend current federal standards to better protect the nation’s miners from health hazards related to exposure to respirable crystalline silica, or silica dust. The rule was finalized in April 2024. Prior to the announcement of the proposal, Casey sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shalanda Young, seeking additional information on the delayed announcement of a new silica standard for miners across America and urging prompt promulgation.

In July 2023, Casey introduced the Relief for Survivors of Miners Act to make it easier for miners’ survivors to successfully claim benefits. Later that year, Casey introduced the latest iteration of the Black Lung Benefits Improvement Act at the United Mineworkers District 2 headquarters in Uniontown, PA. Read more about the bill here.

Watch the full hearing here.