Federal PSOB COVID-19 Death & Disability UpdateMay 29, 2020
On Friday, May 29, 2020, the DEA heard from NAPO that on a federal level, the United States House of Representatives passed H.R. 6509, the Public Safety Officers Pandemic Response Act. The Public Safety Officers Pandemic Response Act, sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), establishes that COVID-19 is presumed to have been contracted as a result of an Officer’s service, thus making the Officer eligible for PSOB death and disability benefits. The bill would create a specific standard for COVID-19-related disability based on whether a PSOB claimant is permanently prevented from performing any gainful work as a public safety Officer due to their COVID-19 diagnosis. Finally, it would recognize the physical toll 9/11-related illnesses have had on first responders by covering under the PSOB Program those public safety Officers whose 9/11-related illness are compounded by a COVID-19 diagnosis and lead to their death or disability.
As the House and Senate passed different versions of a COVID-19 PSOB presumption (the Senate passed S. 3607, the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act on May 14), NAPO is working with both Chairman Nadler’s staff and Senator Grassley’s staff to push for a quick compromise on a PSOB presumption bill that both chambers can agree on. Both bills establish the same presumption for death benefits and create a presumption for disability benefits, but H.R. 6509 also extends benefits to public safety Officers who suffer from a 9/11-related illness and contract COVID-19. It has a more generous disability benefit threshold. NAPO will keep the DEA updated on these efforts.