When the program began 15 years ago, Ray said, the Labor Department made promises: “We’re going to help you. It’s going to be easy.”
Ray, who has filed thousands of claims on behalf of Pantex workers and their families, said it can take years for claimants to receive money or get healthcare assistance. Ray has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in instructional technology.
She’s seen widespread examples of payouts that occur only after a worker dies. She handled the claim of one widow who just this year received a payout on a claim that her husband filed in 2005. The husband died of cancer in 2011.
“Many claimants have commented that they think the claims are drug out so that the claimants die,” Ray said. “It truly is less costly to pay a survivor than it is to pay compensation and provide long-term healthcare for a living worker.”
Half of all claims are settled on behalf of survivors, including workers’ spouses, children, parents, grandchildren and grandparents, Leiton indicated.