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FAQs: Case Concerns

While a case is at NIOSH for dose reconstruction, claimants and their authorized representatives may have questions about the status of their case, their case records, or other general program-related issues.

To answer questions about these case concerns, click any one of the questions listed below to view its answer.

Case Concerns

Why was the Office of Compensation Analysis and Support (OCAS) changed to the Division of Compensation Analysis and Support (DCAS)? What does this change mean to claimants?

OCAS was previously part of the NIOSH Office of the Director (OD). The name change reflects the conversion of OCAS from an Office to a NIOSH Division that reports to, but is not included within the NIOSH OD. This action is part of an ongoing project to reduce the size of the NIOSH OD, which is one of the goals of an OD Management Review begun in September of 2009.

This organizational change will not delay the processing of claimants' dose reconstructions. Dose reconstruction activities will continue as normal. Telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, and web page addresses will also remain the same. If you have additional questions about the name change, please contact DCAS by email at dcas@cdc.gov or ocas@cdc.gov or 513-533-6800 (toll-free at 1-877-222-7570).

How can I get the status of my case?

While your case is with NIOSH for dose reconstruction, you can obtain the current status of your case in one of the following ways:

  • Complete the on-line Current Status Request Form located on the Status of Your Dose Reconstruction page of our Web site to instantly retrieve a general case status report:
    • Enter your NIOSH Tracking Number on the Current Status Request Form.
    • Click on the "Submit Request for Status Report" button. The information we have for your claim will be displayed at the top of the page.
  • Submit an on-line request to have a more detailed case status report mailed to you:
    • Complete the on-line Current Status Request Form per the instructions above.
    • Complete the Requestor and Claim Information sections on the Detailed Status Request Form located at the bottom of the page.
    • Click on the "Submit Request for Detailed Status Report" button. A detailed status report will be generated and mailed to the address that we have on file in our system.
  • Send an e-mail request to dcas@cdc.gov or ocas@cdc.gov
  • Contact NIOSH directly at 513-533-6800
  • Contact NIOSH toll-free at 1-877-222-7570
  • Contact a NIOSH Program Specialist directly. Program Specialists are assigned to cases based upon the Department of Labor (DOL) District Office where you originally filed your claim:
    • Jacksonville, FL:     (513) 533-8425
    • Cleveland, OH:       (513) 533-8423
    • Denver, CO:           (513) 533-8426
    • Seattle, WA:           (513) 533-8424

How did you determine my tracking number?

Cases are given the tracking number based on the order in which we received them from DOL. For example, if your tracking number is 63, your case was the sixty-third case we received from DOL.

Does my tracking number indicate the order in which you will do dose reconstructions?

No, NIOSH assigned the tracking number for the sole purpose of tracking your case. To be fair to all claimants, we begin work on the dose reconstruction in the order the cases were received from DOL and to the extent that we have the data we need. We are handling all cases as quickly as possible.

What is a DCAS Program Specialist (formerly known as a Public Health Advisor-PHA)?

Under the NIOSH Dose Reconstruction Program, Program Specialists oversee the processing of cancer cases filed under Subtitle B of The Act that are forwarded to NIOSH for dose reconstruction by the Department of Labor. Program Specialists assure consistent and quality processing of cases and act as a point of contact for case status information for claimants and their authorized representatives while their case is with NIOSH.

Program Specialists are responsible for developing and managing cases as they go through the NIOSH dose reconstruction process. They develop and manage these cases by:

  • Communicating with the claimant and claimant authorized representatives, government agencies, and contract staff to:
    • collect data needed to conduct the dose reconstruction
    • identify and resolve discrepancies in the case file
    • address questions that may arise about the case and/or the NIOSH Dose Reconstruction Program
  • Performing a final review of the case file once the dose reconstruction is finalized to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the case file documentation
  • Submitting the case file to DOL for a final decision on the claim
Note: DCAS Program Specialists were formerly called Public Health Advisors (PHAs). Their titles have changed, but their duties remain the same.

What is a Health Physicist (HP) and what are their responsibilities under the NIOSH Dose Reconstruction Program?

A Health Physicist (HP) is an individual with knowledge of the physical, biological, and chemical properties of radiation, radiation producing equipment, and radioactive materials. As such, they work to protect individuals, the population, and the environment from the potentially harmful health effects of radiation exposure. Health Physicists have technical skills encompassing many disciplines such as: biochemistry, biology, chemistry, ecology, industrial hygiene, mathematics, physics, and toxicology.

Under the NIOSH Dose Reconstruction Program, HPs are primarily responsible for estimating occupational radiation exposure (dose reconstruction) for nuclear weapons workers covered under Subtitle B of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000. In doing so, HPs:

  • Conduct extensive data searches at various Department of Energy sites and federal and private records storage locations throughout the United States to obtain required information
  • Review and analyze work site and employee data
    • Examples of work site data: health physics practices and policies, monitoring practices, operations, production processes, safety procedures, radiological survey data, types and quality of radioactive materials used, incident reports
    • Examples of employee data: internal and external exposure records such as film badge readings, x-rays, urinalysis results
  • Develop and implement dose reconstruction policies, procedures, and guidelines
  • Develop and implement Special Exposure Cohort Evaluation Reports
  • Review and respond to issues identified by the Advisory Board and their contractor
  • Attend/conduct worker outreach meetings (meetings where energy employees can obtain program information and also provide information for consideration and possible use in dose reconstruction)
  • Ensure that Quality Control/Assurance measures are included in the entire dose reconstruction process
  • Interact with the Department of Energy and Department of Labor regarding programmatic and case-specific issues

How can I get the authorization to represent or speak on behalf of a claimant?

To get the authorization to represent or speak on behalf of a claimant, please contact the DOL District Office where you originally filed your claim and tell them that you would like to appoint someone to represent you under EEOICPA (The Act):

Jacksonville, FL:     1-877-336-4272
Cleveland, OH:       1-888-859-7211
Denver, CO:           1-888-805-3389
Seattle, WA:           1-888-805-3401

Please Note: DOL permits a claimant to appoint, in writing, one individual to represent his or her interests under The Act. DOL regulations specify that there can be only one representative at any one time. Therefore, after one representative has been properly appointed, DOL will not recognize another individual as a representative until the claimant withdraws the authorization of the first individual.

From the time I filed my claim with the Department of Labor (DOL), I now have additional medical records that I want added to my file. Should I send this information to NIOSH?

Any information you wish to submit regarding your claim may be provided to NIOSH, and we will add it to your claim file for consideration. However, if you have an additional primary cancer that was not reported when you originally filed your claim with DOL, you will need to contact DOL and provide them with this information. Once a case has been sent to NIOSH for dose reconstruction, the cancer information has already been verified. Any additional primary cancers to be added to your file will need to be verified by DOL before we can consider it in the dose reconstruction. Once the additional information is verified by DOL, the new information will be sent to NIOSH to include in your dose reconstruction.

Please contact the DOL District Office where you originally filed your claim and provide them with your additional information as soon as possible:

Jacksonville, FL:     1-877-336-4272
Cleveland, OH:       1-888-859-7211
Denver, CO:           1-888-805-3389
Seattle, WA:           1-888-805-3401

From the time I filed my claim with the Department of Labor (DOL), I now have additional employment information that I want added to my file. Should I send this information to NIOSH?

If you have additional employment information that was not reported when you originally filed your claim with DOL, you will need to notify DOL and provide them with this information. Once a case has been sent to NIOSH for dose reconstruction, employment has already been verified. Any additional employment to be added to your file will need to be verified by DOL before we can consider it in the dose reconstruction. Once the additional information is verified by DOL, the new information will be sent to NIOSH to include in your dose reconstruction.

Please contact the DOL District Office where you originally filed your claim and provide them with your additional information as soon as possible:

Jacksonville, FL:     1-877-336-4272
Cleveland, OH:       1-888-859-7211
Denver, CO:           1-888-805-3389
Seattle, WA:           1-888-805-3401

The Department of Labor (DOL) already has my medical records. Why do you need to request information from the Department of Energy (DOE)?

The information we are requesting from DOE is your exposure monitoring information. In order to conduct the dose reconstruction for your case, we need to identify the levels of radiation to which you were exposed. We may review your medical records while conducting the dose reconstruction; however, your exposure monitoring records will provide us with one source of information we need to conduct our dose reconstruction.

How long does the Department of Energy (DOE) have to provide exposure monitoring information to NIOSH?

We expect DOE to provide us with a response to our request for exposure monitoring information within 60 days. This response may contain dose information or may indicate only how they are proceeding in fulfilling the request for information.

What happens once the Department of Energy (DOE) request for exposure monitoring information goes past 60 days?

We closely monitor the number of days since a DOE request was sent. Once the request exceeds the 60 day mark, we contact the DOE Operations Office where the request was sent and notify them, in a report that is compiled and sent monthly, as to which requests have exceeded 60 days. Please note that we are working closely with DOE to improve the efficiency of their records retrieval process.

Can a subpoena be issued to obtain records from AWE and DOE contractors in cases where requests made by NIOSH, SEC petitioners, the Advisory Board, or their contractor go unanswered?

Before NIOSH can request DOL to use a subpoena to obtain records, it must demonstrate due diligence in requesting the records, show that the requests were resisted, and substantiate its assertion that the records do exist. So far, it has not been necessary for DOL to issue a subpoena.

Can I have a copy of the exposure monitoring records that NIOSH received from the Department of Energy (DOE)?

In order to receive a copy of the records we received from DOE, we will need a written request from you. The written request can be in the form of a letter, e-mail, or fax. Please send the request to:

NIOSH/DCAS
1090 Tusculum Avenue
Mailstop C-45
Cincinnati, Ohio 45226
E-mail: dcas@cdc.gov or ocas@cdc.gov
Fax: (513) 533-6826

When I filed my claim with the Department of Labor (DOL), I included a copy of my exposure monitoring information. Why does NIOSH still need to request this information from the Department of Energy (DOE)?

We need to make every effort to acquire all relevant exposure monitoring information on each case. The information we request from DOE is quite extensive and in most cases, more detailed and complete than the information you receive.

I have a copy of my exposure monitoring records. Should I send this information to NIOSH?

We welcome any information you wish to provide which you may feel help your claim.

Will NIOSH have to exhume bodies to conduct the dose reconstruction?

No. NIOSH will not have to exhume bodies in order to conduct the dose reconstructions.

How can NIOSH determine whether or not radiation exposure was a factor in causing a specific cancer?

DOL will use the energy employee's personal characteristics, employment, medical information, and dose reconstruction results developed by NIOSH to determine whether or not the radiation exposure may have been a factor in causing a specific cancer.

The Department of Labor (DOL) has determined that my cancer was not caused by occupational radiation exposure. What else could have caused me to get cancer?

It is important to remember that not all cancers are caused by radiation. Cancer may also be caused by one or more factors related to our environment, lifestyle, or heredity. Within each of these, scientists have identified behaviors, characteristics, or activities (risk factors) that increase the chance of developing cancer. For example, smoking is a lifestyle risk factor that increases the chance of developing lung and many other types of cancer.

Additional information on cancer and risk factors can be found on the National Cancer Institute's Web site.

If EEOICPA (The Act) became a law in 2000, why didn't NIOSH start processing cases until 2001? What caused the backlog of cases?

DOL began accepting claim applications on July 31, 2001, and sent the first batch of cases to NIOSH on October 11, 2001, for dose reconstruction. However, the responsibilities given to NIOSH for this compensation program were new to the agency at that time. These cases were being sent to us before we had the necessary infrastructure, rules and regulations, staff, technical documents, and other process and procedures required for dose reconstruction in place, causing a backlog of claims.

NIOSH is doing all that we can to move cases through our dose reconstruction program as quickly as possible. The development of the Site Profiles; the development of efficient methods, tools, and techniques; and the standardization of the methods, procedures, and reports used in dose reconstruction have all assisted in this effort. The rate for processing claims has increased significantly since 2001. While it required 26 months to complete the first 1,000 dose reconstructions, NIOSH currently completes approximately 300-400 dose reconstructions per month.

How many people have been paid under Subtitle B of The Act?

Compensation paid under Subtitle B is reported under the Statistics section (Program Part B Statistics) on the DOL EEOICP Web site.

How many workers with cancer will receive compensation under Subtitle B of The Act?

It will depend on the types of cancers workers have developed and the levels and types of radiation doses they have received in their workplace. Compensation that has already been paid under Subtitle B can be found under the Statistics section (Program Part B Statistics) on the DOL EEOICP Web site.

Will the money ever run out for this program?

The funding for awarding compensation is established as an entitlement fund in the Treasury and is replenished as necessary. It will take an act of Congress to limit or remove the funding for compensation in this program.

Why not just pay the workers? Isn't it cheaper?

Although just paying workers may seem easier and cheaper, The Act was not set up that way. The Act is a compensation program designed to provide compensation according to a law established by Congress.

Who is responsible for the designation of facilities covered under The Act?

Designation of facilities covered under The Act is the responsibility of the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Labor (DOL).

I have heard that all of the compensation money is being spent on hiring people. Is that true?

The funding for the compensation awards and the funding for staffing NIOSH, DOL, and DOE for this program are separate sources. The money for staff salaries, operation expenses, etc., IS NOT taken from the same funding source from where the compensation money is awarded. That money has been set aside for the sole purpose of awarding compensation.

This program seems to work like a lottery. I worked at a covered facility for 40 years and was denied compensation. I know of another employee who worked at the same facility for only 10 years and received compensation. Is compensation just the luck of the draw?

This program is not a lottery. Cancer risk models and the amount of radiation dose an energy employee was exposed to are the main determinants of Probability of Causation-- the likelihood that the cancer was "at least as likely as not" due to exposure to ionizing radiation during employment at a covered facility. The cancer risk models are based on the best science available and the radiation dose levels are based mostly on very generous dose reconstruction methods and assumptions. The assumptions used in conducting dose reconstructions are designed to err in favor of the claimant whenever estimated radiation dose levels are used.

Is this program a hoax? Will everyone eventually be denied?

This program is not a hoax. Claims that are found to be compensable will be paid by DOL. There was a large initial amount of claims submitted and it is taking time to process the claims. NIOSH is doing all that we can at the current time to move the claims through our process as quickly as possible.

I no longer want to have my claim filed for this compensation program. Would you please remove my claim from the compensation program?

NIOSH does not have the authority to pull a claim. Please contact the DOL District Office where you originally filed your claim:

Jacksonville, FL:     1-877-336-4272
Cleveland, OH:       1-888-859-7211
Denver, CO:           1-888-805-3389
Seattle, WA:           1-888-805-3401

I reported new cancers to DOL and they sent my claim to NIOSH for a new dose reconstruction. I received the results from the new dose reconstruction. The probability of causation is even lower than the first dose reconstruction. Why did this happen?

NIOSH understands this concern. It may seem obvious that when additional cancers are added to a dose reconstruction it would increase the probability that radiation caused the multiple cancers. However, in some cases, the NIOSH dose reconstruction will result in a lower probability of causation when additional cancers are added. An explanation for how and why this can happen is as follows:

Accurately estimating the exposure a worker received while working at a covered facility is a time consuming process. In order to complete dose reconstructions in as timely and efficient a manner as possible, NIOSH may make assumptions on dose estimates that are favorable to the claimant in order to simplify the dose reconstruction process.

For instance, instead of completing a dose reconstruction which precisely estimates the worker's exposure for cases that would most likely result in a probability of causation well below the 50% necessary for the claim to be compensable by DOL, NIOSH will significantly over-estimate the exposure based on the highest levels of exposure observed or possible for the facility. If the claim will not be compensable even when using these significantly over-estimated exposure estimates, then no further refinement to the dose reconstruction is required.

This manner of dose reconstruction is called an "efficiency measure." It allows NIOSH to issue a timely dose reconstruction where attempts to refine the exposure estimate would not result in a compensable claim (i.e., a full dose reconstruction would in all likelihood produce a much lower probability of causation than the over-estimated exposure values used).

Anytime a new cancer(s) is reported to NIOSH by DOL, NIOSH is required to rework the dose reconstruction to include the new cancer(s). If the new cancer(s) creates a potentially compensable case, NIOSH must refine the dose reconstruction using more probable and precise exposure estimates and not the significant over-estimates as mentioned above. These new, more accurate exposure estimates will be lower than the original estimate because we no longer use the assumptions which overestimated the radiation dose for the cancer found in the initial dose reconstruction. The revised radiation dose estimate may result in a probability of causation for the new cancer(s) that is lower than the non-compensable estimate that was obtained for the first cancer using the over-estimated radiation exposure. That is why the addition of a new cancer(s) may result in a probability of causation that is lower than the probability found for the single original cancer. However, this does not always occur when a new cancer(s) is added to a claim and NIOSH has to rework the dose reconstruction. It is possible for additional cancer(s) to produce a full dose reconstruction that will be determined to be compensable by DOL.

The use of "efficiency measures" and procedures for dose reconstructions that NIOSH follows under The Act are described in detail in Final Rule: Methods for Radiation Dose Reconstruction under EEOICPA--42 CFR 82 [ PDF 129 KB (23 pages)].

 
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