SSR 72-65: FEDERAL COAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT OF 1969, AS AMENDED -- SECTION 412(b) (30 U.S.C. 922(b)). -- BLACK LUNG BENEFITS -- STATE WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION PAYMENT ON ACCOUNT OF MINER'S DEATH -- REDUCTION INAPPLICABLE
20 CFR 410.520
- Where section 412(b) of Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, as amended (30 U.S.C. 922(b)) provides that Black Lung Benefits to miner or his widow, child, parent, brother, or sister be reduced by an amount equal to any State workmen's compensation payment received on account of miner's disability, held, such reduction provision no applicable to payments made on account of miner's death.
Advice has been requested as to whether State workmen's compensation benefits paid on account of the death of an employee to his survivors constitute benefits paid "on account of the disability of such miner," and thereby subject to the reduction provision of section 412(b) of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, as amended (30 U.S.C. 922(b)).
Section 412(b) of such Act provides in pertinent part that:
- * * * benefit payments under this section to a miner or his widow, child, parent, brother, or sister shall be reduced * * * by an amount equal to any payment received by such miner or his widow, child, parent, brother, or sister under the workmen's compensation * * * laws of his State on account of the disability of such miner * * *.
Workmen's compensation statutes typically provide not only for compensating employees for occupationally-related injury or disease, but also for compensating the survivors of a deceased employee for his occupationally-related death.
Part B of Title IV of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, as amended, similarly provides benefits not only for miners, but also for their survivors. Section 412(b), as quoted above, requires the reduction of either type of benefit on account of any State workmen's compensation payment received "on account of the disability of such miner." The absence of a specific reduction provision aimed expressly at State payments received on account of the death of the miner, the type of State payments a survivor entitled to Black Lung Benefits would be most likely to receive, supports the view that death payments were not intended to be included within the term "disability." This approach reflects the familiar maxim of statutory construction that if one particular is expressed, other particulars are intended to be excluded.
On the other hand, death may be regarded the ultimate "disability," and it may be argued that in this broader sense, the term "disability" encompasses payments on account of death, as well. Although this view is plausible, it may be demonstrated that it is not the one intended by Congress.
Part C of Title If the Act, which is to be administered after 1973 by the Department of Labor in conjunction with the several States, includes a reduction provision in section 422(g) analogous to section 412(b). The comparison of the two parallel provisions is revealing. Thus, section 422(g) provides that:
- The amount of benefits payable under this section shall be reduced * * * by the amount of any compensation received under or pursuant to any Federal or State workmen's compensation law because of death or disability due to pneumoconiosis.
Here, Congress specifically provided that compensation payments "because of death" should result in reduction. Its failure similarly to so provide in section 412(b) should not lightly be ascribed to inadvertence. When Congress did not expressly provide in section 412(b) that State payments received n account of the death of the miner should result in the same reduction as payments made on account of his disability, it must be concluded that it did not intend to do so.
In view of the liberal construction usually afforded to remedial legislation generally and to workmen's compensation statutes in particular, and in view of the considerations discussed above, the better view of the reduction provisions of section 412(b) is that, in extending to payments made on account of the disability of the miner, they do not thereby also extend to payments made on account of his death.
Accordingly, it is held that payments made under State workmen's compensation laws on account of the miner's death are not subject to the reduction provision of section 412(b) of the Act, supra, and will not affect the Black Lung Benefits otherwise payable to his survivors.
The preceding discussion and holding refer only to cases where State workmen's compensation payments are made to a survivor on account of the miner's death. They do not apply to State workmen's compensation disability payments which accrued to the miner while he was living but which, because of his death prior to receipt, are paid instead to his survivors.