Time Is Running Out for Downwinders to Apply for Funds

November 19, 2020 by Tammy Howell

Key Takeaways


The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act ends July, 2024.

So What?

Many who were exposed to dangerous radiation during nuclear testing in the 50’s and 60’s may be eligible for compensation.

Now What?

Those who think they or a family member may be eligible should apply for RECA compensation with a member of our RESEP team.

The U.S. conducted nearly 200 nuclear weapons development tests from 1945 to 1962, exposing both workers and area residents to dangerous radiation.

“Downwinders,” those who were exposed to downwind radiation from the Nevada Test Site during the Cold War, have a limited time to apply for funds from the federal government. Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) compensation ends July 2024. Those who think they or a family member may be eligible should submit their RECA claim by April 2024.

What is the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act?

In 1990 Congress passed RECA as an apology to individuals who developed certain cancers and other serious diseases related to nuclear weapons testing and uranium mining. RECA’s scope of coverage was broadened in 2000, which allowed for the development the Radiation Exposure Screening & Education Program (RESEP). RESEP is funded by federal grants from the Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

North Country HealthCare’s RESEP program provides cancer medical screening exams to eligible Downwinders who resided in Coconino, Apache, Navajo, Yavapai, and Gila counties and Mohave county north of the Grand Canyon during the years of 1951-1958 for at least two years, or during the summer of 1962.

RESEP staff can assist clients with filing RECA claims. Eligible applicants may be able to receive up to $100,000. To file a claim, applicants must provide documentation of:

  • A compensable cancer
  • Residence in an eligible area during the specified time period
  • Identification, which may include birth certificates, marriage licenses, etc.
  • RECA claim form

Scheduling a screening

Medical screening exams are available at several North Country clinics. To schedule a screening exam, call 928.522.9427. Screening services include:

  • Physical exam
  • Urine dip test
  • Blood work
  • Stool test

For more information about RESEP or to see if you qualify, email

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38 responses to “Time Is Running Out for Downwinders to Apply for Funds”

  1. My brother passed away from cancer and he was in the area of exposure. Is his wife eligible to apply for the benefits on his behalf? Thank you, Ray Ann Terry

    • Hello Ray Ann! I passed along your comment to an eligibility specialist with our RESEP program. You’re also welcome to call them directly at 928-522-9427. Thank you for reaching out!

    • I lived in Guam from 1954 to 1985 and then from 1989 to 1993. Guam residents were exposed to radiation during nuclear testing in the Pacific from 1946 to 1962. I now live in San Diego and in 2014 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Am I eligible to submit a claim?

      • Hello Barbara, that is a good question. I sent your question to an eligibility specialist, who will send you an email. Thank you for reaching out!

    • Hi Carletta, thank you for your comment! I shared your email address with an eligibility specialist here at North Country HealthCare. She should reach out this week. In the meantime, please feel free to call our RESEP office at 928.522.9427. Take care!

  2. My mother was raised in Hurricane and was present during the testing dates. I have been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, is there compensation for second generation cancer patients?

    • Great question! I have forwarded your comment to an eligibility specialist who can better answer your question. She will send you an email shortly. Take care!

      • I would also like information about 2nd generation. My father was exposed during the downwinder time frame and I was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 years ago.

        • Hi Lori, thank you for the comment! I have shared it with an eligibility specialist, who will email you shortly. Take care!

        • I also grew up on the Navajo reservation in the Chinle Valley. My parents were there as well and I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019. They tested to see if it was genetic and it wasn’t. So would I be eligible for the program as well as a second generation family member?

          • Hello Rochelle, I forwarded your comment to an eligibility specialist, who will respond to you via email. Thanks for your comment!

    • not sure but we just applied and waiting we lost our mom from this. she left 6 kids behind. dont get an attorney they will take allot. look up the radiation exposure compensation program fill out the everything yourself. so you get the full money, I was 5 and no amount of money will make me feel ok about not having my mom. i have grandkids now. all this just makes me mad. I think they should have to pay out more because we wont ever get that time back. my mom will never get to see us growing up. never get to see her grandkids. when we do get the money I will make sure every cent goes to something she would approve of. I will for sure visit her grave even though its 7 hours away.. good luck to you.

  3. I have questions about whether second generation persons with cancer history may qualify. My mother lived in one of the qualifying counties while pregnant with me during that time. Thank you.

    • Thank you for the comment, Leslie! I have forwarded your message to an eligibility specialist. She should email you within a week. Take care!

  4. My Mom has blood cancer; MDS (Myelodysplastic Syndrome). She was receiving weekly blood & plasma transfusions until she was told she had one year to live. She required a bone marrow transplant, which she did (at the age of 71 yrs old). She went to school in Page and Flagstaff during the exposure period, and yet she was told her cancer wasn’t a covered form of cancer?? She was told even with the transplant her chances were only 50% at 71yrs, and without it she was given a year to live. They ran their saving down to nothing due to medical bills, but that cancer didn’t count. It’s a form of Lieukemia, from my understanding, so why is it not valid? Please give any information as to why she was told it wouldn’t be covered.

    • Hi Teri, thank you for your comment! I have forwarded it to an eligibility specialist, who will reach out to you via email. Hope we can answer some of your questions!

  5. I was told that there is a site you can go to and register for future possible qualifying cancers. No one knows when this is going to strike, so not being able to have a registration of some kind seems wrong. Do you know of any such site so that if all of us who were here during the time of downwinders can register to be compensated if we get cancer after they close the files?
    Thank you very much,

    • Hello Detta, I have shared your concern with an eligibility specialist. That is a great question! She will reach out to you via email.

  6. I also would like to know about a documentation for those of us Downwinders
    Who haven’t shown a cancer at this time.
    But are likely to live another twenty to thirty years longer than the July 2022 ending of
    Compensation. There are a lot of baby boomers that fall in this category.

    • Great question, Kerry. A representative from our RESEP team will reach to you soon to explain more.

  7. I have Chorodial Melanoma. I had a radiation plaque that did not work in killing the cancer so I just had to have my eye removed. This is a very rare eye cancer that is not caused by or have anything to do with the sun. I was born and raised in Flagstaff from 1956 to 1974. I don’t see this cancer on the list of cancers and not sure why? I heard that there is an amendment being submitted for Downwinders could this cancer be added?

    • Hi Helen, Thank you for your message! I have shared it with an eligibility specialist who will provide an answer for you. Stay tuned to your email!

  8. I had prostrate cancer. I grew up in Holbrook Az. from 1957-1976. I don’t see Prostrate cancer on the list. Would this be a good down winders claim?

    • Great question, Gilbert. I have forwarded your question to an eligibility specialist. She will reach out via email!

  9. We have applied twice for a downwinders claim due to my mother in laws death. First time we did not have enough medical evidence and the second time 17 years later I had acquired the autopsy which stated primary source as larynx cancer that spread to many parts of her body. We were surprised that larynx was not compensable but pharynx was. Can anyone explain this? They are both respiratory related and both contribute to throat cancer. Who was responsible for determining compensable cancers?

  10. The larynx cancer can contribute to many compensable cancers as lung, thyroid, and esophagus. This is an add on to my previous comment.

  11. I lived in the targeted location from birth to age seven (late 1959-1967). I do not show signs of cancer at this time, but am inquiring about screening to check.


  12. Is there any hope of the passage of the RECA funding for those of us still standing? July 2022 is but 6 Mos away.

  13. My mother and aunt were both diagnosed with and we’re afflicted with Glioblastoma Multiform. My mother sadly passed away and my aunt after brain surgery was significantly impaired. This disease is not hereditary. They both were born in the mid to late 1930’s. They were raised in Southern Illinois. (Including most all of the 1950’s) The area that they grew up appears to be downwind of the tests, but not in the western states typically spoken about in the Downwinders issues. Are they considered downwinder victims of the testing?

  14. Do you know if the White Sands Missile Base is included in this or is there a similar resource for those of us who were likely exposed there? I’ve tried doing research myself, but am not finding any info. One person told me White Sands was included as an add-on later but congress hasn’t passed it Thanks for any info you can pass on.

    • Great question Linda. I’ve passed along your message to a member of our RESEP team to respond to you via email. Have a great day!

  15. My right kidney was removed 6 years ago because of cancer. I have lived in the Arizona target area, my younger sister (54) had surgery for colon cancer, also my mother (93) has skin cancer I understand that my sister (77) may have cancer of pancreas.

    My sister told me she was told that she does not qualify for downwinders because of her age, I am not sure if my kidney cancer was caused by downwinder.

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