Line of Duty
Death and Disability Benefits
for Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel
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State and federal death benefits are available for the survivors of emergency and law enforcement personnel killed in the line of duty. The federal government also provides certain disability benefits.
Act 101 Death Benefits
Pennsylvania’s Act 101 of 1976, the Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefits Act, provides for a one-time payment of death benefits to the surviving spouse, minor children, or parents of firefighters, ambulance or rescue squad members, and law enforcement officers killed in the performance of their duties. The death must be causally related to the performance of duties.
Under the Act, the Commonwealth pays the political subdivision for which the deceased worked. The political subdivision is responsible for making payment to the beneficiaries. The benefit was set at $50,000 in 1994 and is adjusted annually for inflation using the Consumer Price Index. The benefit amount for fiscal year 2013-2014 is $123,227.64.
For copies of the Act 101 forms and requirements for submitting a claim, the following can be completed online and printed: “Claim for Death Benefits” form; “Report of Death” form; and the “Processing An Act 101 Claim” guideline.
For more information about these Act 101 benefits, contact the Department of General Services, Bureau of Risk and Insurance Management, Room 406, North Office Building, Harrisburg, PA 17125 (telephone: 717-787-2492).
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Pennsylvania's Workers' Compensation laws provide assistance with burial expenses and continuance of a portion of the deceased’s wages to a surviving spouse and/or child(ren). Anyone applying for Act 101 benefits must submit proof that a Workers’ Compensation Claim has been filed; however, approval of the Act 101 claim is not contingent upon approval of a Workers’ Compensation claim.
For more information about this program and the application process, visit the Department of Labor and Industry’s web site or contact the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation at 1171 South Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA 17104-2501 (telephone: 1-800-482-2383)
Surviving children of firefighters, policemen, ambulance and rescue squad members, corrections officers, and active National Guard members killed in the line of duty may be entitled to fully-paid tuition benefits through the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), Postsecondary Education Gratuity Program. Tuition benefits may be used to attend Pennsylvania community colleges, state-owned universities, and state-related colleges and universities. Children must be 25 years of age or younger, residents of Pennsylvania, working toward an undergraduate degree, and meet other requirements.
For more information about this program and the application process, visit PHEAA’s web site regarding Postsecondary Educational Gratuity Programs or contact PHEAA at 1200 North Seventh Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102-1444 (telephone: 717-720-2860). The site includes forms that can be downloaded.
Public Safety Officers’ Death and Disability Benefits
The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, administers death and disability benefits under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) Act. The PSOB Act, enacted in 1976, provides line of duty death benefits for public safety officers (i.e., law enforcement officers, firefighters, ambulance and rescue squad members, and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) personnel and state, local and tribal emergency management and civil defense agency employees). The PSOB Program also provides a benefit to public safety officers who have been permanently and totally disabled by a catastrophic personal injury sustained in the line of duty, if that injury permanently prevents the officer from performing any gainful work.
There are different benefit effective dates for various classes of personnel. The benefit is $328,612.73 as of October 2012 and is adjusted annually for inflation using the Consumer Price Index.
The PSOB program, under the Public Safety Officers’ Educational Assistance (PSOEA) Act, provides higher educational assistance for spouses and children of federal, state, and local public safety officers killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty.
The Department of Justice has a web site that you can access for information about the program. If you have additional questions, you can contact Bureau of Justice Assistance, Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program, 810 Seventh Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20531 (1-888-SIGNL13 [744-6513]) for further information.