Updated at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 13, 2018
The time limit for relatives of public safety officers who die from work-related illnesses to file for state benefits would be maintained at 420 weeks under a bill filed this week by a San Diego-area legislator.
Families of deceased first responders such as firefighters and police officers may qualify for state survivor benefits if the victim died from work- related causes such as cancer, tuberculosis and blood-borne diseases. Under a bill introduced by Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, the deadline for applying for benefits would be permanently set at 420 weeks following diagnosis.
The deadline had been 240 weeks, but Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015 signed legislation that temporarily extended the time limit to 420 weeks. That extension, however, is set to expire next year, meaning the time limit will return to 240 weeks in 2019 without legislative action.
“First responders such as firefighters and police officers bravely rush into dangerous situations in order to keep us safe. In some cases, years pass before they succumb to illnesses directly related to their actions,” Atkins said. “SB 1086 honors their service and sacrifice by ensuring that their families don’t fall through an arbitrary crack in eligibility rules for survivor death benefits.”
Benefits for those injured after 2013 range from $250,000 for a deceased firefighter with one dependent to $320,000 for someone with three or more dependents, paid in installments, according to the California Fire Foundation.
“Families of police and firefighters stricken with job-caused illnesses shouldn’t have to pay a penalty if their loved one lives `too long,”‘ said Lou Paulson, president of California Professional Firefighters. “Easing the arbitrary, century-old `death clock’ has helped ease the burden for a few surviving families without imposing significant burdens on taxpayers.”
— City News Service
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