New Compensation Available for Victims of Nuclear Radiation


Could someone you love be dealing with an illness related to exposure to nuclear radiation during our nation's nuclear testing program?

It's worth asking the question, especially if your loved one served in the military between 1942 and 1971, worked in an area near test explosion sites, or was involved in the handling or shipping of uranium.

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) program was established in 1990 to compensate citizens exposed to radiation from domestic atomic testing. The program divides claimants into three categories:

  1. Onsite Participants, typically military personnel who witnessed the blast and then conducted training in the vicinity of the test site,

  2. Downwinders, people who were present in one of the specified areas near the Nevada Test Site during a period of atmospheric atomic weapons testing, and

  3. Uranium Miners, Millers, and Ore Transporters, people who worked in mining, milling, or transportation of uranium between 1942 and 1971.

All RECA claimants must have contracted one of the medical conditions specified in the statute after possible exposure to ionizing radiation from the detonation of an atomic weapon or after working in the uranium industry.

If a person in one of the three above categories has died, the benefit he or she was entitled to can be paid to surviving family members in the following order of precedence: 1) spouse; 2) children; 3) parents; 4) grandchildren; and 5) grandparents.

Many people are still unaware of their eligibility for the RECA program due to an “oath of secrecy” that was taken by the participants in such programs. Participants in these programs were prevented, under penalty of law, from discussing anything related to the testing program.

In 1996, Congress repealed the Nuclear Radiation Secrecy Agreement Act, which rescinded this “oath of secrecy.” This year, an amendment to the RECA program was put forth, increasing the amount of compensation provided to individuals, and expanding eligibility requirements to include additional individuals. Currently, the bill is with the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

Compensation through the RECA program won’t be available forever. It is set to expire on July 9, 2022.

If someone you love was a veteran who served from the end of World War II to the early 1970’s, there’s the possibility that he or she is eligible for RECA benefits.

If you would like to discuss filing a claim for your loved one, just give us a call.

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