There is one summary. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Introduced in House (02/02/1999)

Black Lung Benefits Restoration Act of 1999 - Amends the Black Lung Benefits Act to provide that, when black lung (pneumoconiosis) benefits are paid after an initial determination of eligibility, repayment of an overpayment will not be required even upon a final determination of ineligibility, if there was no fraud or deception by the claimant. Provides for refunds to claimants of any such repayments required before this Act. Provides for reimbursement by the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund to operators who made such benefit overpayments.

(Sec. 3) Revises evidence requirements. Prohibits the responsible operator or the Trust Fund from requiring more than one medical examination to controvert medical evidence presented by a claimant on the basis of a medical examination. Prohibits any claimant from offering more than three medical examinations, but authorizes the administrative law judge to require the claimant to submit to an additional medical examination.

(Sec. 4) Revises requirements for survivor benefits. Provides that a miner's death shall be considered to have occurred as a result of the pneumoconiosis if the miner was receiving benefits for, or was totally disabled by, pneumoconiosis at the time of death. Prohibits the payment of survivor benefits to any widow or widower of a miner who was married to the miner for less than nine months preceding the miner's death, unless such widow or widower was the natural or adoptive parent of the miner's child. or who had children as a result of such a marriage. Disqualifies for receipt of survivor benefits the widows or widowers of miners who remarry before attaining age 50. Prohibits any widow or widower from receiving an augmentation in survivor benefits on any basis arising out of a remarriage.

(Sec. 5) Requires the Secretary of Labor, before issuing an initial determination of workers compensation eligibility for pneumoconiosis, to determine whether any operator meets the Secretary's criteria for liability as a responsible operator. Requires an administrative law judge conducting a timely requested hearing on the liability issue to render a decision by a certain deadline, which decision shall not be subject to further appellate review. Authorizes assessment of proceeding costs against any operator requesting such a hearing, if the administrative law judge finds there were no reasonable grounds for such a request.

(Sec. 6) Requires that all reasonable legal costs and expenses incurred by the claimant be paid by the responsible operator, or the Trust Fund, after an administrative or judicial determination that the claimant is entitled to black lung benefits. Requires the Secretary or court to take action to assure that they are paid within 45 days after such determination.

Requires the Trust Fund to pay any operator the legal costs the operator paid to a claimant determined in a later proceeding to be ineligible for benefits.

(Sec. 7) Prohibits a claimant or respondent from appealing to the Benefits Review Board any order unless it has been made by an administrative law judge.

(Sec. 8) Allows any claim filed under the Act after January 1, 1982, but before enactment of this Act, to be refiled after enactment of this Act for a de novo review on the merits.