20 CFR 725.490 - Statutory provisions and scope.
(a) One of the major purposes of the black lung benefits amendments of 1977 was to provide a more effective means of transferring the responsibility for the payment of benefits from the Federal government to the coal industry with respect to claims filed under this part. In furtherance of this goal, a Black Lung Disability Trust Fund financed by the coal industry was established by the Black Lung Benefits Revenue Act of 1977. The primary purpose of the Fund is to pay benefits with respect to all claims in which the last coal mine employment of the miner on whose account the claim was filed occurred before January 1, 1970. With respect to most claims in which the miner's last coal mine employment occurred after January 1, 1970, individual coal mine operators will be liable for the payment of benefits. The 1981 amendments to the Act relieved individual coal mine operators from the liability for payment of certain special claims involving coal mine employment on or after January 1, 1970, where the claim was previously denied and subsequently approved under section 435 of the Act. See § 725.496 for a detailed description of these special claims. Where no such operator exists or the operator determined to be liable is in default in any case, the fund shall pay the benefits due and seek reimbursement as is appropriate. See also § 725.420 for the fund's role in the payment of interim benefits in certain contested cases. In addition, the Black Lung Benefits Reform Act of 1977 amended certain provisions affecting the scope of coverage under the Act and describing the effects of particular corporate transactions on the liability of operators.
(b) The provisions of this subpart define the term “operator” and prescribe the manner in which the identity of an operator which may be liable for the payment of benefits - referred to herein as a “responsible operator” - will be determined.