Over the past week we have received hundreds of calls about the Onsite Participant category of claims under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (“RECA”). Most had questions about exposure by American servicemen during the end of World War II, particularly those serving in Japan after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not covered by RECA. Additionally, the Act does not cover members of the military who occupied those cities or who may have been held in those areas as Prisoners of War. Congress determined that the atmospheric atomic detonations that occurred at Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end World War II are not part of RECA and limited the Act’s coverage to the atmospheric nuclear testing program conducted by the United States that followed the war. Also, the Act only provides compensation for an individual who has contracted a covered cancer following their exposure. Please note that neither skin cancer or prostate cancer are designated as compensable.
For a full description of the covered categories for compensation under the Act, please see those sections below. Claim forms are also available at the links below.
Because of the significant number of calls to our toll free line, you may have to leave a message. We will return every call we receive and the Program appreciates your interest in this unique statute. Nonetheless, please feel free to call this line at 1-800-729-7327. If a RECA staff member is not immediately available to talk with you, you will be directed to a voice mailbox. Someone will return your call as soon as possible.
You can also leave an e-mail message at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The United States conducted nearly 200 atmospheric nuclear weapons development tests from 1945 t0 1962. Essential to the nation’s nuclear weapons development was uranium mining and processing, which was carried out by tens of thousands of workers. Following the tests’ cessation in 1962 many of these workers filed class action lawsuits alleging exposure to known radiation hazards. These suits were dismissed by the appellate courts. Congress responded by devising a program allowing partial restitution to individuals who developed serious illnesses after exposure to radiation released during the atmospheric nuclear tests or after employment in the uranium industry: the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA, or the Act), 42 U.S.C. § 2210 note (2006), was passed on October 5, 1990. The Act’s scope of coverage was broadened in 2000.
The Act presents an apology and monetary compensation to individuals who contracted certain cancers and other serious diseases:
- following their exposure to radiation released during the atmospheric nuclear weapons tests, or
- following their occupational exposure to radiation while employed in the uranium industry during the Cold War arsenal buildup.
This unique statute was designed to serve as an expeditious, low-cost alternative to litigation. Notably, RECA does not require claimants to establish causation. Rather, claimants qualify for compensation by establishing the diagnosis of a listed compensable disease after working or residing in a designated location for a specific period of time. The Act provides compensation to individuals who contracted one of 27 medical conditions. It covers all states where uranium was mined and processed, as well as specified counties in Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, where significant fallout from the atmospheric nuclear testing was measured.
The U.S. Attorney General established the Radiation Exposure Compensation Program within Constitutional and Specialized Tort Litigation Section in April 1992. The DOJ promulgated regulations for carrying out the program that permit use of existing records so claims could be resolved reliably, objectively, and non-adversarially, with little administrative cost to either the individual filing the RECA claim or the United States Government. The initial 1992 regulations were updated in 1997 and revised on March 23, 2004.
RECA establishes lump sum compensation awards for individuals who contracted specified diseases in three defined populations:
- Uranium miners, millers, and ore transporters – $100,000;
- “Onsite participants” at atmospheric nuclear weapons tests – $75,000; and
- Individuals who lived downwind of the Nevada Test Site (“downwinders") – $50,000.
Although Four Corners Region (Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona) residents have filed the majority of RECA claims, the program has awarded compensation to individuals residing in each State, as well as several foreign countries. The claimant population includes several Native American tribes. The program regularly engages in outreach to the Navajo, Hopi, and Yavapai Apache Indian reservations to meet with Tribal leaders, conduct town hall meetings, and assist members filing RECA claims. The map below illustrates the areas covered by the ACT.
RECA Covered Areas:
Uranium Worker States: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
Downwind, Counties and other: in the State of Utah, the counties of Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Kane, Millard, Piute, San Juan, Sevier, Washington, and Wayne; in the State of Nevada, the counties of Eureka, Lander, Lincoln, Nye, White Pine, and that portion of Clark County that consists of townships 13 through 16 at ranges 63 through 71; and in the State of Arizona, the counties of Apache, Coconino, Gila, Navajo, Yavapai, and that part of Arizona that is north of the Grand Canyon.
Inter-Agency Radiation Network
Today, the RECA Program is at the center of a broad inter-agency network that comprises the comprehensive federal radiation compensation system. The Department of Labor processes claims filed under a compensation program created by the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 7384 et seq. (2006). This program pays uranium workers who were approved for compensation under Section 5 of RECA, or their eligible survivors, an additional $50,000 and future medical benefits related to the condition for which they were approved for compensation under RECA. One need not have actually received payment from RECA in order to be found eligible for the additional EEOICPA compensation and benefits.
In addition to the additional $50,000 compensation noted above, RECA Section 5 claimants may be entitled to compensation and benefits pursuant to a recent EEOICPA amendment. For more information, please review the Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs website. The RECA Program works closely with DOL to coordinate this additional compensation.
The RECA Program also relies on cooperation from the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Energy, and Defense to determine the eligibility and compensation available to onsite participant claimants under RECA. Finally, the Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program (RESEP), administered by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources Services Administration, provides grants for education, prevention, and early detection of radiogenic cancers and diseases. RESEP has awarded grants to seven clinics in Nevada, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. In addition to its outreach and educational programs, the RESEP clinics provide medical screening for specified compensable diseases under RECA, conduct follow-up services, make referrals to medical specialists, and assist with RECA and EEOICPA claims processing by providing necessary medical documentation.
RECA Awards to Date
RECA Claimant Categories Summary
Download or Request RECA Claim Forms
Have a RECA claim form mailed to you. Please allow 2-4 weeks for delivery.
Download a RECA claim form:
- Select the form you would like to download from the choices below.
- Wait for the form to fully download before attempting to print. The files are relatively large, so they may take a few moments to download.
- Once the form has fully downloaded, it may be printed and filled out. Forms submitted for approval must carry an original signature.
RECA claim forms:
Return of Documents
The RECA Program reviews and returns certified or original life records and other precious documents submitted along with RECA claims. Although the program makes an effort to return documents in a timely manner, there is a significant backlog. If you would like to expedite the return of your records, please contact Vera Burnett-Powell at 202-616-4336 or Vera.Burnett-Powell@usdoj.gov with your name, claim number and a current address.
Expenses and Costs under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.
In light of the Federal Circuit Court decision in Hackwell v. United States, 491 F.3d 1229 (10th Cir. 2007), the Justice Department will no longer enforce the regulation concerning attorneys fees whereby attorneys are prohibited from receiving reimbursement for expenses and costs in addition to the statutory fee limits, pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 79.74(b). Accordingly, attorneys who represent clients under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act may receive reimbursement for expenses and costs related to the claim, in addition to the statutory attorney fee. On October 23, 2008, the Department published a Notice in the Federal Register (73 F.R. 63196) regarding its regulation concerning attorney's fees and costs. (Full text of the Notice) - December 12, 2007
Policy Guidance Regarding the Combination of Periods of Employment for Miners, Millers, and Ore Transporters
It has been the Department's practice to permit claimants to combine periods of employment as miners, millers, and ore transporters to meet the statutory one-year duration of employment requirement. For all three categories of uranium workers (mining, milling, and ore transporting), the Act specifies six common diseases: primary cancer of the lung, fibrosis of the lung, pulmonary fibrosis, cor pulmonale related to fibrosis of the lung, silicosis, and pneumoconiosis. Therefore, in cases involving these six illnesses, the Act’s exposure criteria can be satisfied by combining periods of employment that include mining, milling, and ore transporting. For millers and ore transporters (but not miners), the Act specifies two additional compensable diseases: primary renal cancer and chronic renal disease including nephritis and kidney tubal tissue injury. In cases involving these two illnesses, the Act’s exposure criteria can be satisfied by combining periods of employment that include only milling and ore transporting. The Department will publish a Notice in the Federal Register discussing this statement of policy at the earliest opportunity. - November 5, 2007
Contact RECA by phone
Telephone: 1-800-729-RECP (1-800-729-7327)
Contact RECA by U.S. Postal Service
U.S. Department of Justice
Radiation Exposure Compensation Program
P.O. Box 146
Ben Franklin Station
Washington, DC 20044-0146
Contact RECA by e-mail