Culminating nearly three years of work by the IAFF and congressional advocates, Congress passed legislation significantly expanding and improving Public Safety Officer Benefits (PSOB) for fire fighters who die or are disabled in the line of duty (PAFRA; S 1511). President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law in the coming days.
“Supporting the families of our fallen brothers and sisters is the most important thing we can do and we will never shy away from this fight,” says General President Edward Kelly. “The IAFF is proud to have worked with Congress to expand the benefits provided to the families of fallen fire fighters and EMS personnel.”
Among its most notable provisions, PAFRA ensures fire fighters and EMS personnel who are permanently disabled in the line of duty receive PSOB benefits even if they are able to work in a job that provides therapeutic benefits to them or involves simple tasks. Previous rules on PSOB benefits for disabled fire fighters and EMS personnel were far too limited and only provided benefits if a disabled individual was unable to perform any job.
The IAFF was especially proud to secure an extension of PSOB benefits to cadets or trainees and also ensure benefits are provided to children of a fallen fire fighter or EMS provider who had not yet been born at the time of their parent’s injury or death.
PAFRA provides a number of other benefits and improvements to the PSOB program, including:
- Extending the line-of-duty presumption for COVID-19 deaths and disabilities for two years
- Doubling the interim death payment from $3,000 to $6,000
- Indexing the benefit to the date of determination to ensure families will not receive a lower benefit due to bureaucratic delays
- Retroactively extending the new disability provision to fire fighters and EMS personnel injured while responding to the September 11 terror attacks
The IAFF worked closely with members of Congress, and Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in particular, to secure passage of these amendments to make sure the families of fallen fire fighters and EMS personnel receive the benefits and support they deserve.