Do You Have the White Card?

Do You Have the White Card?

Ever Worked at Oak Ridge? Do You Have the White Card?

You don’t have to live here long before you find out one of the most prestigious places to work in East Tennessee is at one of the Department of Energy’s facilities in Oak Ridge. Originally there were 3 different facilities there – the Oak Ridge National Lab, Y12 and K25.

K25 was in operation from the 1940’s to the mid 1980’s. Most of the buildings there have been destroyed. It is now called the East Tennessee Technology Park.

The Oak Ridge National Lab and Y12 are still in operation. Workers there make more money than those working at most other companies in the area. Most have interesting and fulfilling jobs and really enjoy what they do.

Workers try to get their children jobs there. They also try to get jobs for friends. Many also try to get their siblings and other relatives jobs as well as their friends and neighbors.

The Risk

While Oak Ridge is a great place to work, there is a risk.  Over the years, workers have been exposed to radiation, beryllium, silica, asbestos, mercury, toxic substances and chemicals.

Exposure has caused health problems.  Frequently, signs of these don’t appear until a person is in their 60’s or 70’s. Most times this is at the end of their careers or after they retire.

History

During World War II, the government funded the Manhattan Project. The purpose was to develop the Atomic bomb. All three facilities were constructed in 1943 for the purpose of researching nuclear energy and developing it.

After the bomb was created, research into nuclear energy continued. This still goes on today.

Back in the 1940’s, no one knew what health hazards might exist for people working at Oak Ridge.  Since then, much has been learned. Ye,t as advances have been made, new health hazards have occurred.

Over the years, some workers have become sick due to exposure to radiation and other toxic substances. As time passed, a higher number of workers developed certain types of cancer, beryllium disease and silicosis, than the general public. More recently there also has  been a higher frequency of certain other conditions.

The Federal Government became aware that people who worked at Oak Ridge and at other similar facilities in the country were developing these severe medical conditions.  In 2000, it enacted the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA).

Part B of the EEOICPA became effective on July 31, 2001. This provided compensation and benefits not only to employees of the Department of Energy but also to employees of contractors, subcontractors, and vendors working for the DOE. Those who worked there at any time were also entitled to compensation and benefits.

In 2004, a Part E was added to the EEOICPA. Part E provided free lifetime benefits and compensation of up to $250,000 to a worker or former worker if one of these two occurred:

  • if they developed an illness other than a cancer, chronic beryllium disease, or silicosis that may have been the result of their workplace exposure to radiation or toxic substances such as hydrocarbons, acids, cleaning solvents, and many other chemicals
  • if they were impaired by an illness covered by Part B.

What Conditions Have Developed in Workers?

A variety of medical conditions have occurred in those who work or have worked at Oak Ridge.  The most common ones are:

  • Beryllium diseases
  • Chronic Silicosis
  • Various types of cancers such as, multiple myeloma, lymphomas, breast, ovarian, skin, stomach and gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract, colon, rectal and liver, and
  • Other conditions which stem from exposure to toxic substances and chemicals.

How Does a Worker or Former Worker Get Benefits?

In order to be eligible for compensation and benefits under Parts B and E of EEOICPA, a worker or former worker has to file a claim with the Department of Labor. That can be obtained at this website: www.dol.gov/owcp/energy/regs/compliance/EEOICPForms/ee-1.pdf.

The worker or former worker also has to furnish their work history. A special form is available for this. It can be obtained here: www.dol.gov/owcp/energy/regs/compliance/EEOICPForms/ee-3.pdf.

They also are required to submit documentation of their work and information from their doctor regarding their medical condition.

Approximately 50% of the initial claims submitted are denied. When a claim is denied, many workers or former workers lose their confidence and give up. Instead, they should appeal the denial.

Denials occur because they have not furnished enough information to substantiate their claim. The more information they can furnish about where they specifically worked and the time they worked there, any substances they were exposed to and statements from their doctor or doctors on why they believe the worker’s medical condition was caused by their exposure to radiation or toxic substances, strengthens their claim.

Besides those who lose hope after a denial, others don’t even file claims because they are intimidated by the paperwork. Everyone should get an advocate to represent them.

An advocate can be an attorney, a former worker, or anyone who has become familiar with the claims process. The advocate can help them complete and submit their initial claim.  They can also help them do the necessary work to appeal a denial.

Why Should a Worker or Former Worker Pursue Their Claim for Compensation or Benefits under EEOICPA?

Their medical condition may not improve. As they age, their health may get worse.  Regardless of how much savings they have for their retirement, the cost of treatment can be very high. As time passes, those costs are going to rise.

Medicare and Part B and D coverage may not pay all of those costs.  Over time, they may have to dip into their savings to pay for them.

 What Type of Services Are Covered when a Claim  is Approved?

As long as they’re required to treat the conditions for which they were approved, here are some of the services which are covered:

  • Hospitalizations
  • Surgical procedures
  • Rehabilitation including occupational, respiratory and physical therapy
  • Specialist care
  • Physician visits
  • Over the counter and prescription drugs
  • Durable medical equipment
  • In-home nursing care

If they have to travel to a doctor’s office, hospital, clinic, some other medical facility or a pharmacy, the costs for this travel may be covered.

The White Card

Every person approved for compensation or benefits under the EEOICPA receives a special Medical Benefits Identification card. It is known as the White Card. This is issued by the U S Department of Labor’s Office of Worker’s Compensation Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation.

Did You Work in Oak Ridge?

Did a Family Member Work There?

 If you worked at any of the Department of Energy’s facilities in Oak Ridge or if you had a family member who did, do you or they have a medical problem which may have been caused by the work there? If the answer is yes, it is to your advantage to see if you or they qualify for compensation or benefits under the EEOICPA.

To get additional information or to find out how to submit a claim, contact the Department of Labor’s Resource center in Oak Ridge. The people who work there will answer any questions you have and give you all the help they can.  Here is the address and contact information:

Oak Ridge Resource Center

Jackson Plaza Office Complex
800 Oak Ridge Turnpike
Suite C-103
Oak Ridge, TN 37830
Phone: (865) 481-0411
Toll Free: (866) 481-0411

There are many companies in the area which offer various types of care to people approved under the EEOICPA.  Two of these are

Quality Private Duty Care

9123 Cross Park Drive

Suite 200

Knoxville, TN  372923

Phone – 865-247-0339

and

Professional Case Management

Jackson Plaza Shopping Center

800 Oak Ridge Turnpike
Oak Ridge, TN 37830

Phone – 865-481-4800

You probably have seen ads on television or received information in the mail about Cold War Patriots. People from Professional Case Management established it in 2008.

Don’t Wait

If you or a family member worked at Oak Ridge and have a severe medical condition start today to find out if you or they are eligible for a White Card.

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If you have any comments on what you have read in this post, please email them to me. Also – if you have any ideas about subjects you would like to see discussed in future posts, please send me an email and let me know. My email address is bob.ooablog@gmail.com.