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:
Onsite Participants, typically military personnel who witnessed the blast and then conducted training in the vicinity of the test site,
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
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.
Further, 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.
Sadly, 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In 1996, Congress repealed the Nuclear Radiation Secrecy Agreement Act, which rescinded this “oath of secrecy.”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.
It’s important to know that the RECA program won’t last 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. It’s worth asking the question.
Recently, Takacs McGinnis Elder Care Law had the honor of assisting a client who was the surviving spouse of an Atomic Veteran. After reviewing the documentary evidence and coordinating with the RECA office at the Department of Justice, a successful claim was pursued, which resulted in a $75,000 award for our client. We are extremely thankful to have pursued this claim prior to the program’s planned expiration.
Our goal is to ensure that anyone with a valid claim has the opportunity to pursue such a claim before the deadline occurs. If you would like to discuss filing a claim for your loved one, just give us a call.
If you’re interested in more details, read the full text of the legislation here: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43956.pdf.