Recently, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) received information about an article regarding autopsies and organ donation and their impact on death benefits, including Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) through the U.S. Department of Justice. This information stated “that an autopsy of an organ donor would not meet the requirement for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.”
Since distribution of this article, NFFF and the PSOB office have received numerous inquiries, as individuals are concerned that organ donation from a fallen public safety officer would disallow death benefits, and that autopsies are required to file for or be eligible for death benefits, including PSOB. To squarely address these concerns, the PSOB office has confirmed the following:
Organ donation does not disallow filing for, or receiving, PSOB benefits. Autopsies are not required to file for, or receive PSOB benefits. If an autopsy is performed, a copy of the autopsy is generally requested to establish the cause of death. However, if an autopsy is not performed, the PSOB Office simply requests that the department provide a statement that an autopsy was not performed.
The NFFF’s Local Assistance State Teams are trained to assist agencies and survivors in the preparation and submission of PSOB claims, upon request. If you have any questions or would like assistance in preparing a claim for death benefits for a fallen firefighter or first responder, please contact John Proels, National Coordinator, Local Assistance State Teams Program, at 301-712-7201 or firstname.lastname@example.org.