On Thursday, November 18th, President Biden signed into law the Protecting America’s First Responders Act (PL 117-61). The bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Senator Chuck Grassley (IA), makes several changes to the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) Program intended to expand eligibility and increase certain benefits. Similar legislation was introduced in the House by Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9), a co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus.
Among the changes to the PSOB program made in the bill are:
- Interim benefits increased from $3,000 to $6,000;
- Payment amount adjusted to the time of award instead of the time of the incident;
- Clarifies public safety officers who qualify for disability benefits may undertake nominal work;
- Includes eligibility for fire police officers who provide traffic control and incident scene management;
- Extends educational benefits to children of public safety officers who were born after the officer was disabled or died in the line-of-duty; and
- Retroactively provides benefits to public safety officers who became disabled responding to the September 11th attacks.
Additionally, the legislation extends until December 31, 2023, the presumption for public safety officers who are disabled or die after contracting COVID-19.
“As the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) works to support our fallen hero families, we couldn’t be more thankful that these benefits be given without delay,” said Troy Markel, Chairman of the NFFF Board of Directors. The NFFF continues to work with our national fire service partners to ensure the PSOB program meets the needs of our nation’s first responders and their families in an efficient and timely manner.