Retraining Incentive Benefits (RIB) can be awarded by Administrative Law Judges to qualifying workers who have contracted Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis (Black Lung). The program provides an opportunity for vocational retraining and education to those who do not return to coal mining employment.
- Who is entitled to Retraining Incentive Benefits (“RIB”)?
An employee who has a radiographic classification of Category 1/0, 1/1 or 1/2 coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and spirometric test values of eighty percent (80%) or more, shall be awarded a one (1) time only retraining incentive benefit. (KRS 342.732(1)(a)(1)).
- Are there time limitations for taking action to receive Retraining Incentive Benefits?
Yes, the employee shall notify the parties of his or her intention to retrain within thirty (30) days after the administrative law judge’s order awarding RIB becomes final. The employee must initiate retraining within 365 days of the administrative law judge’s final order.
- What is a Retraining Incentive Benefit?
A Retraining Incentive Benefit is an amount equal to sixty-six and two-thirds percent (66-2/3%) of the employee’s average weekly wage but not more than seventy-five percent (75%) of the state average weekly wage payable semi-monthly for a period not to exceed 104 weeks, except as provided in subparagraph 3. (KRS 342.732(1)(a)(1)
- How and under what circumstances are Retraining Incentive Benefits paid?
Retraining Incentive Benefits shall be paid only while the employee is enrolled and actively and successfully participating as a full-time student taking the equivalent of twelve (12) or more credit hours per week in a bona fide training or education program that, if successfully completed, will qualify the person completing the course for a trade, occupation, or profession, and which program can be completed within the period benefits are payable under this section. The program must be approved under administrative regulations promulgated by the Department of Workers’ Claims. The benefits shall also be paid to an employee who is a part-time student taking not less than the equivalent six (6) nor more than eleven (11) credit hours per week, except that benefits shall be in an amount equal to thirty-three and one-third percent (33-1/3% of the employee’s average weekly wage, but not more than thirty-seven and one-half percent (37-1/2%) of the state average weekly wage payable biweekly for a period not to exceed 208 weeks.
- What if I don’t have a high school diploma?
Retraining Incentive Benefits shall also be paid biweekly while an employee is actively and successfully pursuing a High School Equivalency Diploma in accordance with administrative regulations promulgated by the Commissioner. The benefits shall be paid in the amount of sixty-six and two-thirds percent (66-2/3%) of the employee’s average weekly wage not to exceed seventy-five percent (75%) of the state average weekly wage for a maximum period not to exceed 17 weeks. These income benefits shall be paid in addition to the maximum amount of Retraining Incentive Benefits otherwise payable.
- Who pays for the cost of the training or education program?
The employer shall also pay, directly to the institution conducting the training or education program, instruction, tuition and material costs not to exceed $5,000.
- What facilities or institutions have programs that will qualify a student for a trade, occupation or profession which can be completed in 104 weeks?
- After I select a program and enroll, what am I required to do?
The requirements of a student participating in the Retraining Incentive Benefit program are listed in 803 KAR 25:120 Sections 5, 6 and 7. Here is a link to KAR 803 25:120
- Are there additional benefits for successfully completing retraining in an approved bona fide training or educational program?
Yes. If an employee who is awarded Retraining Incentive Benefits successfully completes a bona fide training or educational program approved by the Commissioner, upon completion of the program the employer shall pay that employee the sum of five thousand dollars ($5,000) for successful completion of a program that requires a course of study of not less than twelve (12) months nor more than eighteen (18) months. The employer shall pay the employee the sum of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for successful completion of a program that requires a course of study of more than eighteen (18) months. This amount shall be in addition to Retraining Incentive Benefits otherwise awarded and tuition expenses paid by the employer. (KRS 342.732