New York Personal Injury Attorneys
Public Safety Officers Benefit Fund May Cover COVID-19 Victims
As we continue to see an increase in the death toll across the United States due to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, we also see an increase in the spread of the virus to first responders on the front lines, especially in New York City. Fortunately, some good news has recently come for the families of these brave men and women who are fighting this pandemic. On April 10, 2020, the United States Department of Justice Bureau issued a statement indicating that the Public Safety Officers Benefit Fund, or the “PSOB” would be interpreted to include victims of COVID-19.
The PSOB program is a federally-funded program which was created in 1996 to compensate the families of Public Safety Officers who lose their lives or are catastrophically injured in the line of duty. The PSOB program applies not only to firefighters and police officers, but to uniformed EMS/EMT, correction officers, probation officers, parole officers, and criminal prosecutors. Under the PSOB program, the families of Public Safety Officers who have perished or been rendered permanently and totally disabled as a result of COVID-19 are entitled to a $365,670 benefit payment as well as an Education Assistance benefit in the amount of $1,248 per month of attendance for widows or the Officer’s children who are enrolled in full-time higher education.
Pursuant to the recent statement by the Department of Justice, a Public Safety Officer’s family will be entitled to these benefits if the following criteria are met: (1) that the officer had engaged in line of duty action or activity under circumstances that indicate that it was medically possible that the officer was exposed to the virus; and (2) the officer did contract the disease within a time‐frame where it was medically possible to contract the disease from that exposure.
With this announcement, the Department of Justice announced that it would interpret the current PSOB law to create a presumption that a Public Safety Officer who perishes or is catastrophically injured from COVID-19 contracted it while in the line of duty. This is good news and a positive step towards protecting our heroes and their families.
This is also something that should be codified into the actual law to prevent any future amendments in the interpretation of the law. To that end, we support the Uniformed Firefighters Association and the IAFF in their efforts to get the federal government to officially add COVID-19 to the law.
For more information on the PSOB, you can go to https://psob.bja.ojp.gov.
For more information on our efforts to protect and provide for New York coronavirus first responders and healthcare workers, see our Call For Action.