SSR 73-24: FEDERAL COAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY ACT OF 1969, AS AMENDED -- SECTIONS 402(d) AND 411(c) (30 U.S.C. 901) -- CLAIM FOR BLACK LUNG BENEFITS -- SERVICES AS "EMPLOYEE" A PREREQUISITE TO ELIGIBILITY FOR MINER'S BENEFITS
20 CFR 410.110(j) and (m)
- Held, benefits under Title IV of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, as amended, (Black Lung Benefits) are not payable for disability due to pneumoconiosis arising out of self-employment in the coal industry. The pneumoconiosis must have arisen as a result of services by a miner as an employee in a coal mine.
The question has been raised as to the basis for the provision in the Social Security Administration's regulations implementing Part B of Title IV of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, as amended, requiring that for benefit purposes disability due to pneumoconiosis must have arisen as a result of services by a miner as an employee.
Section 410.110(j) of Regulations No. 10 of the Social Security Administration, as amended September 30, 1972 (20 CFR 410.110(j)) provides:
- "'Miner' or 'coal miner' means any individual who is working or has worked as an employee in a coal mine, performing functions in extracting the coal or preparing the coal so extracted."
Section 410.110(m) of Regulations No. 10 of the Social Security Administration (20 CFR 410.110(m)) provides in part:
- "'Employee' means an individual in a legal relationship (between the person for whom he performs services and himself) of employer and employee under the usual common-law rules."
Social Security Regulations requiring that a miner have been an "employee" to qualify for these benefits are based on relevant portions of the enabling Act (Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act, P.L. 91-173 as amended by the Black Lung Benefits of 1972, P.L. 92-303), which reflect the intent of the Congress in this area. The law itself speaks of "employment." Thus, while section 3(g) of the Act defines "miner" for purposes of that Act generally as "any individual working in a coal mine," a different definition is applied by Title IV of the Act for purposes of the "black lung" benefit provisions. Section 402 of Title IV provides in pertinent part that: "For purposes of this title * * * (d) The term 'miner' means any individual who is or was employed in a coal mine. * * *"
By substituting a definition using "employment" for one using "working," the Congress apparently recognized that the definition in section 3(g) was inappropriate for the black lung benefit provisions of Title IV. The term "employment" is also used consistently in the congressional findings and statement of purpose in section 401 and in the legal presumptions established by section 411(c). These congressional findings in section 401 and the definitions in section 402 also apply to Part C of Title IV (to be administered after 1973, unless statutorily extended, by the Department of Labor in conjunction with the several States).
It is clear that the benefits to be paid after 1973 pursuant to Part C by or for coal mine operators, whether under State workmen's compensation laws or under the Federal workmen's compensation statute whose provisions are incorporated into Part C, would constitute workmen's compensation payments. Part C of Title IV specifies that where no State workmen's compensation exists for such miners, liability for these claims will be placed on the employer. It would not be possible to establish such employer liability in the case of a self-employed miner. The applicable definition of an employed miner in section 402(d) of the Act governs the administration of the black lung benefit provisions in Parts B and C.
Parts A, B, and C of Title IV of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, as amended, therefore, constitute a comprehensive plan to provide compensation to miners and certain of their survivors for the consequences of occupational disease sustained by miners in the course of their employment. As the category of individuals intended to benefit from Title IV is the same whether Part B or C applies, it is clear that this category is limited to individuals with the status of "employee."
Accordingly, it is held that the provisions of Title IV, Part B, of the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, as amended, provide benefits only to disabled miners who are or were employees and are not applicable to self-employed miners.
 Workmen's compensation statutes usually provide for awards to employees or their dependents in cases of industrial accidents and occupational diseases and do not cover independent contractors or other self-employed persons. The definition of "miner" applicable to these workmen's compensation statutes is necessarily limited to "employees."