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Rule Changes, Bill Could Help Black Lung Victims

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Proposed changes to federal Labor Department rules would make it easier for coal miners and their families to obtain black lung benefits.

And a West Virginia congressman aims to reduce the amount of paperwork they have to do to get them.

The 2010 federal health care law requires the Labor Department to reinstate two provisions of the Black Lung Benefits Act

Since 1982, survivors of totally disabled miners have had to prove the disease caused the death. One new rule would make that an automatic presumption for totally disabled miners with at least 15 years on the job.

The other rule would automatically transfer benefits from the late recipient to eligible survivors.

Pennsylvania led the nation in black lung claims in fiscal year 2011, followed by West Virginia and Kentucky.

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