Online Program

Analysis of the energy claims management system, 2001-2008

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Chris Green, MPH, Department of Environmental Health, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN
Ken Silver, SM, DSc, Department of Environmental Health, College of Public Health, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN
BACKGROUND. Since 2001 over 250,000 claims have been filed under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act. Reports of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Ombudsman for this program highlight numerous complaints related to processing of claims for specific nuclear facilities.

METHODS. A CD containing records for all individual workers' cases from the DOL's Energy Claims Management System, covering the first eight years of the program (2001-2008), was obtained from DOL by a journalist and provided to the researchers. Data were imported into SPSS for exploratory and descriptive statistical analysis, with an eye toward issues of timeliness, claims processing, and differences among facilities.

RESULTS. For 158,026 compensation cases filed during this period, a winnowing process by which claims were denied or withdrawn on procedural or substantive grounds is presented in stepwise quantitative terms. Analysis of facility complaints reported by the DOL Ombudsman reveals below average claim acceptance rates among some “high complaint” facilities. The time lag from initial filing to final decision showed an overall downward trend from 2001 to 2008. Cases requiring dose reconstruction have significantly longer processing times. Processing times were significantly shorter in 2006-2008 compared to earlier years, consistent with an influence of congressional oversight hearings beginning in 2006.

CONCLUSIONS. The controversy over aged claimants dying before completion of the adjudicative process has merit, especially for cases involving dose reconstruction. Advocates' long-standing complaints about administrative delays are supported by the evidence.

Learning Areas:

Occupational health and safety
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe outcomes in the Energy Claims Management System.

Keyword(s): Occupational Health, Workers' Compensation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Over a decade of research, advocacy, publications, testimony, and public service on nuclear worker issues. Supervised graduate student's statistical analysis of ECMS data base.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.