The Constitutional Conundrum of Black Lung Appeals: Two Proposed Solutions

Part I of this Article explains the statutory requirements that a black lung benefits claimant must meet and how these claimants’ failure to meet statutory prerequisites results in the dismissal of their claims. Part II argues that the current procedures are inadequate to protect the rights of black lung benefits claimants. Dismissal of their claims violates the petitioners’ rights to due process of law and pro se representation. Part III proposes two solutions to the crisis. The first proposal is simply a form that would be distributed to all claimants explaining the procedures they must follow to avoid dismissal. Part III presents such a form. The second solution is the liberal interpretation of the statutory guidelines through the doctrine of constructive filing. Part IV concludes that the crisis calls for immediate attention and the implementation of one of the two proposed solutions.