Order Code RS20967
Gary K. Reynolds
Information Research Specialist
Information Research Division
The federal government provides compensation for civilians and veterans under three
Statutory programs. The 1990 Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA, P.L. 101-
426) provides lump sum payments of up to $100,000 to on-site nuclear test participants,
civilians who lived downwind from the
Miners, millers, and ore transporters. Radiation-exposed veterans are eligible for
Disability compensation under the 1984 Veterans’ Dioxin and Radiation Exposure
Compensation Standards Act (P.L. 98-542) and the 1988 Radiation-Exposed Veterans’
Compensation Act (REVCA, P.L. 100-321).
In 2000, congress passed legislation to establish a compensation program for certain
Department of Energy (DOE) employees, contractors, and subcontractors; employees of
Companies that provided beryllium to DOE; and employees of companies that processed
Radioactive materials used in the production of atomic weapons.
The federal government also compensated one living experimentee and the families
of 11 now-deceased experimentees who were injected with plutonium in government
funded human radiation experiments.
Congressional Research Service The Library of Congress
Persons who have developed specified lung or kidney diseases or one of 19 types of cancer, and (1) were living in areas of Nevada, Arizona, or Utah downwind of nuclear test sites (eligible for a $50,000 payment), (2) were one-site nuclear test participants (eligible for a $75,000 payment), or (3) were uranium workers (eligible for a $100,000 payment), may obtain information regarding the criteria and claims process for applying for RECA lump-sum payments from the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) website at [http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/torts/const/reca/index.htm]. Information also available by phone through DOJ’s Radiation Exposure Compensation Program at (800)729-7327 (, Monday-Friday).
Atomic Veterans. Individuals who were exposed to radiation while on active duty originally had to file for compensation under the strict terms of the Veterans’ Dioxin and Radiation Exposure Compensation Standards Act (P.L. 98-542). This law required a difficult and costly reconstruction of each veteran’s estimated radiation dosage and few veterans were able to get compensation under this criteria. In response to veterans’ complaints, Congress passed the Radiation-Exposed Veterans Compensation Act (REVCA) of 1988 (P.L. 100-321), which establishes a presumption of service connection for 21 specified cancers. Under REVCA, no dosage reconstruction is required and veterans who participated in any of the three radiation-risk activities and have any one of the specified 21 cancers are presumed to have a service-connected condition and are eligible for compensation.
The three radiation-risk activities were
· Being an on-site nuclear test participant (approximately 210,000 veterans),
Having been held as a POW in
Veterans exposed to radiation have special priority for enrollment for healthcare services. They are also eligible to participate in the Veterans Administration’s (VA’s) Ionizing Radiation Registry and to request a complete physical and all necessary tests. Veterans can get information on filing a claim for monthly disability compensation by calling the Veterans Administration Radiation Help Line at (800) 827-1000.
DOE Employees, Contractors, and Subcontractors; Companies that Provided Beryllium to DOE; and Atomic Weapons Employees.
Under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation
Program Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-398, Title XXXVI), DOE employees, contractors and
subcontractors, beryllium workers, and atomic weapons workers, who suffer from
beryllium disease, chronic silicosis, bone cancer, or one of the 19 cancers
covered under RECA are eligible for a lump-sum payment of $150,000 and payment
of future medical expenses. People
already receiving compensation under RECA or a VA radiation compensation
program cannot receive payments under this act.
However, uranium miners who have received a $100,000 RECA payment are
eligible for another $50,000 lump-sum payment and payment of future medical
expenses. The Department of Labor (DOL) began
accepting claims for compensation under this program on
Information is also available from DOE’s website at [http://www.ehdoe.gov/advocacy/] or by phone through its Office of Worker Advocacy at (877 447-9756.
Information is also available from DOL’s website at [http://www.dol.gov] or by phone through the DOL Energy Employees Compensation Information Help Line at (866) 888-3322.
Background. The President’s Advisory Committee on Human
Radiation Experiments, which was established by President Clinton’s Executive
Order 12891 on
Citizens who may have been exposed during federally-funded radiation experiments may call the Department of Energy’s Human Radiation Experiment Hotline at (202) 586-8439.
Nuclear Test Personnel. Persons who participated in nuclear tests during the period of 1945-1962, or who were with U.S. occupation forces in Hiroshima or Nagasaki from August 1945 to July 1, 1946 may call the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA) Nuclear Test Personnel Review Program at (800)-462-3683 (8 a.m.-5 p.m. EST, Monday-Friday).
The National Cancer Institute’s Study to Estimate Iodine (I-131) Doses from Nuclear Fallout and numerous items dealing with this report and thyroid cancer are available at the National Cancer Institute’s website at [http://rex.nci.nih.gov/INTRFCE_GIFS/WHTNEW_INTR_97.htm]
The Department of Energy’s website containing the voluminous Fina lReport of the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments is at [http://tis.eh.doe.gov/ohre/roadmap/achre/index.html].
The Department of Veterans Affairs Fact Sheet on Programs for Veterans Exposed to Radiation is at [http://www.va.gov/pressrel/99radpgm.htm].
Several scholarly studies of veterans or civilians exposed to radiation can be found by searching the National Academy of Science’s National Academy Press Web page at [http://books.nap.edu/] and using the terms radiation and exposure and civilian or veteran.
National Association of
Atomic Veterans. This group is looking for individuals who
participated in atmospheric testing, were members of
National Association of Radiation Survivors. This organization is interested in gathering information from participants or their relatives. Call (800) 798-5102.
Cancer Information Service. This federal government service provides free material about cancer and its treatment from the National Cancer Institute website at [http://cis.nci.nih.gov/]. To speak to a cancer information specialist, call the Cancer Information Service at (800) 4-CANCER.
Radiation Effects Research
Foundation (RERF). This is a Japanese organization, jointly
funded by DOE and the Japanese government and located in