Florida Survivor Benefits

Survivor BenefitsUpdated October 2013

ONE-TIME DEATH BENEFIT

Volunteer and full-time firefighters: There are three levels of benefits based upon the circumstances leading to the death.

The sum of $50,000 shall be paid as provided when a firefighter, while engaged in the performance of his or her firefighter duties, is accidentally killed or receives accidental bodily injury which subsequently results in the loss of the firefighter’s life, provided that such killing is not the result of suicide and that such bodily injury is not intentionally self-inflicted. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in no case shall the amount payable under this subsection be less than the actual amount stated therein. The sum of $50,000 shall be paid as provided if a firefighter is accidentally killed as specified previously, and the accidental death occurs as a result of the firefighter’s response to what is reasonably believed to be an emergency involving the protection of life or property or the firefighter’s participation in a training exercise. This sum is in addition to any sum provided initially. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the amount payable under this subsection may not be less than the actual amount stated therein. If a firefighter, while engaged in the performance of his or her firefighter duties, is unlawfully and intentionally killed, is injured by an unlawful and intentional act of another person and dies as a result of such injury, dies as a result of a fire which has been determined to have been caused by an act of arson, or subsequently dies as a result of injuries sustained therefrom, the sum of $150,000, shall be paid as provided. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the amount payable under this subsection may not be less than the actual amount stated therein.

These benefits are paid in addition to any worker’s compensation or pension benefits

Contact:
Assistant Director
Florida State Fire Marshal
Department of Financial Services
200 East Gaines Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0340
Phone: (850) 413-3600
Toll-Free: (800) 342-1741
Website: LODD Resource


WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

Benefit is 50% of average weekly wage to spouse 16 2/3% additional if there are dependent children. Spouse receives lump sum compensation equal to 26 weeks upon remarriage and weekly benefits cease. Children receive benefit longer if disabled and incapable of self-support and until age 22 if full-time student. If there is no spouse, each child receives 33 1/3%. If there are no spouse or children, benefit go to parents, siblings or grandchildren in that order.

Under certain conditions, off-duty firefighters or firefighters outside their employer’s jurisdiction or area of responsibility may be covered under the state’s workers’ compensation. This coverage may be applicable if a firefighter is engaged in extinguishing a fire or protecting and saving life or property due to a fire during an emergency, and such activities would be considered to be within the course of his or her employment as a firefighter and covered by workers’ compensation. Similar coverage applies to fulltime emergency medical technicians and paramedics who provide basic life support or advanced life support services. This would not apply to a firefighter performing activities for which he or she is paid by another employer or contractor.

Volunteer firefighters: Definition of employment includes volunteer firefighters responding to or assisting with fire or medical emergencies whether or not the firefighters are on duty.

Contact:
Florida Department of Financial Services
Division of Workers’ Compensation
200 East Gaines Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-4220
Phone: (850) 413-1601
Toll-Free: (800) 742-2214
Website: www.fldfs.com/wc

(Reference: Title 21 FLA Statute 440.16)

FUNERAL BENEFIT

Maximum of up to $7,500 for burial expenses.

Contact:
Florida Department of Financial Services
Division of Workers’ Compensation
200 East Gaines Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-4220
Phone: (850) 413-1601
Toll-Free: (800) 742-2214
Website: www.fldfs.com/wc


RETIREMENT/PENSION PLAN

Most full-time and volunteer municipal and special district firefighters covered under Firefighters Pension Trust Fund. Check with your local municipality.

If a firefighter dies before becoming eligible to retire, the heirs of the deceased firefighter are entitled to a refund of 100 percent, without interest, of the contributions made to the firefighter’s pension trust fund by the deceased firefighter. If a firefighter, having at least 10 years of credited service dies prior to retirement, his or her beneficiary is entitled to the benefits otherwise payable to the firefighter at early or normal retirement age. Restrictions may apply in both circumstances. In general, this would be 50% of the deceased firefighter’s salary to surviving spouse for spouse’s lifetime, or to the surviving children until 18 years of age. Adjusted annually on July 1.

Any condition or impairment of health of a firefighter caused by tuberculosis, hypertension, or heart disease resulting in total or partial disability or death shall be presumed to have been accidental and suffered in the line of duty unless the contrary is shown by competent evidence, provided that such firefighter shall have successfully passed a physical examination before entering into the service, which examination failed to reveal any evidence of such condition.

Several Florida jurisdictions have supplementary retirement/pension plans or annuities for firefighters. Check with local authorities. For a quick view of the many nuances of Florida’s Retirement Trust Funds for Firefighters, click here.

Contact:
Municipal Police Officers’ and Firefighters’ Retirement Trust Funds Office
Division of Retirement

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 3010
Tallahassee, FL 32315-3010

Shipping Address:
1317 Winewood Blvd., Bldg. 8
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1560

Phone: (850) 922-0667
Toll-Free: (877) 738-6737
Fax: (850) 921-2161
Website: www.dms.myflorida.com

(Reference: FL Code 175 sub section 185-186; Also known as the “185-186 Law”)

EDUCATION BENEFIT – CHILDREN

Education fees waived for dependent children of firefighters killed in emergency response or in arson fire. Children seeking an undergraduate education, vocational-technical certificate, or a post-graduate degree will have the cost of tuition, matriculation and other statutorily authorized fees waived. May attend a state community college, state university, or a vocational-technical school, full- or part-time for up to 120 credit hours. Children eligible until age 25 for undergraduate or vocational study and up to age 29 for post-graduate programs.

Contact:
Florida Department of Education
Office of the Commissioner
Turlington Building, Suite 1514
325 West Gaines Street
Tallahassee FL 32399
Phone: (850) 245-0505
Fax: (850) 245-9667
Website: www.fldoe.org

(Reference: Florida Statute 112.19)

EDUCATION BENEFIT – SPOUSE

Same as listed above for children except no age cap. However, spouse must start education benefits within seven years after the firefighter’s death.

Contact:
Florida Department of Education
Office of the Commissioner
Turlington Building, Suite 1514
325 West Gaines Street
Tallahassee FL 32399
Phone: (850) 245-0505
Fax: (850) 245-9667
Website: www.fldoe.org

(Reference: Florida Statute 440.16(c))

NON-PROFIT OR PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS

Provides financial aid to students who lack economic ability to continue education beyond high school or to further college education. To be eligible, survivors must have been eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Contact:
Friends of 440 Scholarship Fund, Inc.
One Datran Center
9100 South Dadeland Blvd., Suite 1010
Miami, FL 33156-7800
Phone: (305) 423-8710
Fax: (305) 670-0716
Website: www.440scholarship.org

Offers death benefit via a death benefit contribution collected from members.

Contact:
Florida State Firefighter’s Association
2450 US 27 South
Avon Park, FL 33825
Phone: (863) 453-4817
Toll-Free: (800) 883-4817
Website: www.fsfa.com

Woodmen of the World will pay a $10,000 fraternal death benefit if a qualified member is killed while performing his or her duties as a non-military first responder. To be eligible for this benefit, an individual must be a member in good standing of one of our other benefits.

First Responders include firefighters, EMT/paramedics, police or a person performing a supporting role to such individuals.

Contact:
Woodmen of the World
Woodmen Tower
1700 Farnham St
Omaha, NE 68102
Phone: (800) 225-3108
Website: www.woodmen.org


HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION

This exemption is provided for the spouse of a first responder who died in the line of duty and provides that the spouse can be 100% exempt, annually, from property tax on his or her homestead.

A first responder is defined as a full time paid, part-time paid or unpaid volunteer law enforcement officer, correctional officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician or paramedic.

The first responder must have been employed by the State of Florida, or a member of any political subdivision of the state to include authorities or special districts.

The first responder and the spouse must have been permanent residents of Florida as of January 1 of the year the first responder died.

To qualify for this annual exemption, the surviving spouse must provide to their county property appraisers office, a letter from the first responder’s employer, and any addtional documentation, which recognizes and certifies that the first responder died in the line of duty while employed as a first responder. This must be submitted no later than March 1.

This new exemption is the result of Amendment 9 to the Florida Constitution, approved by Florida voters in November 2012.

Contact:
For questions or to make application, contact your local propery appraisers office. For a list of property appraiser’s office contacts, visit Florida Department of Revenue, Contact List for Property Appraisers.

(Reference: FL Statute 196.081)

COUNTY & LOCAL JURISDICTION BENEFITS


 

Disclaimer: The material contained in the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Survivor Benefits website is not the result of legal research, but rather is based on a scan of public documents. We have made every effort to be accurate and timely, but errors may exist. The material on this website is advisory only and should not be cited as evidence or proof that a benefit exists or that our facts are accurate. Always consult the decedent’s fire department for benefits assistance, or a benefits’ attorney. If, in the course of your own research, you see errors of fact, or new benefit information, please pass this information along to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.