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Presumptive Health Initiative

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How do these laws benefit fire fighters and EMS workers?

The employee diagnosed with an occupational disease or condition covered by a presumptive disability law would be entitled to:
  • payment of medical expenses
  • disability retirement benefits
  • worker's comp benefits
  • lost wages, or
  • benefits for spouse/family as the situation allows
These benefits will vary between states and provinces, so fire fighters should be familiar with the workers compensation system that applies to them.

How can we enforce presumptive disability laws?

Content coming soon!

What are the limitations of presumptive disability laws?

The employee diagnosed with an occupational disease or condition covered by a presumptive disability law would be entitled to:
  • Currently federal fire fighters and many state and provincial fire fighters do not have presumptive laws in their jurisdictions. This means that these fire fighters must prove that any illness or condition that they contract is associated with their employment on a case-by-case basis.
  • Generally presumptive laws apply to full-time paid professional fire fighters however some states and provinces do include limited coverage for part-time and volunteer fire fighters.
  • Most states and provinces require a minimum number of years of service before a condition or illness is presumed to be associated with fire fighting.
  • Most states and provinces limit the types of cancers or diseases that are presumed to be associated with fire fighting .
  • Most states and provinces include rebuttable clauses that allow an employer to challenge that a condition or illness did not come from fire fighting but from some other cause. A classic example is if a fire fighter gets cancer but was also a smoker the employer will rebut the presumption claiming that smoking was the primary cause of the cancer and not fire fighting.
  • Despite the presence of presumptive legislation, there is still no guarantee that claim will be approved.

How can I bring presumptive disability laws to my state, province, or municipality?

  • Scientific evidence continues to demonstrate the increased risk for heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and infectious disease among fire fighters and emergency medical responders.
  • The IAFF encourages its affiliates to work with state and provincial legislatures to enact presumptive laws and to update and enhance legislation where laws vary or provide limited benefits.
  • For assistance with obtaining presumptive legislation for your state, contact the IAFF Division of Health, Safety and Medicine.

The History of Disability Laws:

  • First state to enact a heart and lung presumption was Pennsylvania in 1935.
  • California was the first state to enact Cancer legislation in 1982.

Presumptive Disability Stories

Content coming soon!

Presumptive Laws for All Diseases and Conditions

Get a state-by-state view of Presumptive Laws!

Presumptive Laws for a Specific Disease or Condition

Get a view of presumptive laws specific to a disease or condition!


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