New Jersey Survivor Benefits

Updated November 2018

ONE-TIME DEATH BENEFIT

As of November 2018, New Jersey does not have a one-time death benefit payment for firefighters. However, many fire departments or municipalities carry insurance policies for their firefighters.


WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

Dependents of a firefighter who dies because of a work related injury or illness may be eligible to receive death benefits. The weekly benefits payments are 70% of the weekly wage of the deceased worker, not to exceed the maximum benefit amount established annually by the Commissioner of Labor. This maximum benefit is $903 per week for 2018, and $921 per week for 2019. This minimum amount allowable, so long as there is at least one person fully dependent, is 20% of the state’s average weekly wage. As of 2017, 20% of the average weekly wage is $245.65.

The benefit amount is divided among the surviving dependents as determined by a judge after a hearing on extent of dependency. A surviving spouse and natural children who were a part of decedent’s household at the time of death are conclusively presumed to be dependents while other family members must prove their level of dependency, if any.

A surviving spouse is entitled to this benefit for the duration of their life. Other dependents shall receive this benefit for 450 weeks (approximately 8 years and 7 months), after which they shall continue to receive this benefit only as long as they are considered dependent. Children who are deemed to be dependents remain so until the age of 18 years or if a full-time student, until the age of 23 years. If a child is physically or mentally disabled, he/she may be eligible for further benefits.

Any medical or hospital expenses related to the injury or sickness which caused death shall be paid for.

Contact:

Division of Workers’ Compensation
New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development

Station Plaza 4
Trenton, NJ 08625
Phone: (609) 292-2515
Fax: (609) 984-2515
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.nj.gov/labor/wc/

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 381
Trenton, NJ 08625-0381

(Reference: NJ Statutes 34:15-13)

COMPENSATION FOR DEATH OR DISABILITY OF FIREFIGHTERS FROM OCCUPATIONAL DISEASES

Any condition or impairment of health of any member of a volunteer fire department caused by any disease of the respiratory system shall be presumed to be an occupational disease, so long as the disease first develops or manifests while the firefighter is an active member of a the fire department, the firefighter underwent a physical exam upon entry to the service which failed to disclose the presence of such a disease, and the disease develops or first manifests itself within 90 days from the event medically determined to be its cause.

Cardiovascular and cerebrovascular injuries or death arising from those injuries is presumed to be an occupational injury for all firefighters under New Jersey Workers’ Compensation law.

(Reference: NJ Statutes 34:15-7.3, 34:15-43.2)

FUNERAL BENEFIT

Under New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation laws, the cost of burial and of a funeral, not to exceed $3,500 shall be paid by the employer to the dependent or other person having paid the costs of burial.

Contact:

Division of Workers’ Compensation
New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development

Station Plaza 4
Trenton, NJ 08625
Phone: (609) 292-2515
Fax: (609) 984-2515
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.nj.gov/labor/wc/

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 381
Trenton, NJ 08625-0381

(Reference: NJ Statutes 34:15-13)

RETIREMENT/PENSION PLAN

Volunteer Firefighters: The Volunteer Emergency Worker’s Survivor’s Pension (VESP) is available for the survivors of volunteer firefighters through the municipality which they served. This benefit, paid monthly, starts the January after the firefighter passes. This benefit is exempt from federal taxes.

A spouse, with or without children, shall receive $15,000 each year. Dependent children, without a surviving spouse of the deceased, shall equally split $15,000. Should the spouse remarry, the spouse’s benefit ends and $10,000 shall be split equally among any dependent children.

A child is dependent until the age of 18, or over 18 if enrolled in high school, or 24 if enrolled in college. A married child is ineligible, while a child incapable of supporting themselves is dependent for as long as the incapability lasts.

If there is no spouse or eligible dependent children, dependent parents who received at least half of their support from the volunteer firefighter during the twelve months preceding the death are eligible for $5,000.

Note that if a survivor is also eligible for a monthly pension benefit due to the volunteer firefighter’s membership in the PERS, PFRS, or SPRS on the basis of other employment, that survivor is not eligible for the VESP.

Career Firefighters: A surviving spouse shall receive an annual pension of 70% of the firefighter’s compensation over the 12 month period immediately preceding the injury which caused death. The spouse shall receive this pension for life. If the firefighter leaves no spouse, all dependent children shall equally split the same 70% pension.

If the firefighter leaves neither spouse nor dependent child, but does leave a dependent parent, that parent shall receive a pension of 25% of the firefighter’s compensation. Two dependent parents shall split 40%.

If none of the above apply, all pension contributions shall be returned to the named beneficiary or estate.

Civil union or domestic partners are eligible for the same benefits as spouses.

Contact:

New Jersey Department of the Treasury
Division of Pensions and Benefits

50 West State Street
Trenton, NJ 08625-0295
Phone: (609) 292-7524
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.state.nj.us/treasury/pensions/

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 295
Trenton, NJ 08625-0295

(Reference: NJ Statutes 43:12-28.1, 43:12-28.2, 43:16A-10)

EDUCATION BENEFIT – CHILDREN

Children, biological or adopted, of a fallen career or volunteer firefighter are eligible to have their tuition paid for by the State while attending any public institution of higher education of this State for an undergraduate degree. If attending any independent institution of higher education in New Jersey for an undergraduate degree, the State shall pay part of the tuition which is not more than the highest tuition charged at the public institutions of higher education in this State. All children are eligible for this benefit for 8 years following graduation from high school.


EDUCATION BENEFIT – SPOUSE

Spouses are eligible for this program in the same manner as children, except the time restriction for them is 8 years from the death of the firefighter.

Note that this benefit in no way requires educational institutions to admit the beneficiary or allow them to continue as a student once admitted.

Contact:

Higher Education Student Assistance Authority
4 Quakerbridge Plaza
Hamilton, NJ 08619
Phone: (609) 584-4480
Toll Free: (800) 792-8670
E-mail:[email protected]
Website: www.hesaa.org/Pages/NJGrantsApplications.aspx

Mailing Address:

PO Box 540
Trenton, NJ 08625-0540

(Reference: NJ Statute 18A:71B-23)

NON-PROFIT OR PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS

200 Clubs of New Jersey

There are multiple county-level 200 Clubs active in the state of New Jersey which are dedicated to supporting the families of fallen first responders. While each focuses primarily on the families in the county in which they are established, some reach across county lines. For example, the 200 Club of Union County (www.uc200club.org) awards scholarships of up to $2,000 to the children of any fallen firefighters, police officers, and other law enforcement officers for use in pursuing higher education. Check with your local fire department for information about your local 200 Club.

New Jersey State Firemen’s Association

1711 Route 34 South
Wall Township, New Jersey 07727
Phone: (732) 798-8137
Fax: (732) 938-2580
Website:www.njsfa.com

Members of the NJSFA are eligible for a burial relief benefit. The amount of this benefit depends on the length of time served. As of November 2018, the benefit ranges from $6,000 to $11,750.

The International Association of Fire Fighters

1750 New York Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
Website: client.prod.iaff.org/#contentid=1743

The W. H. “Howie” McClennan scholarship provides financial assistance for sons, daughters or legally adopted children of IAFF Union Members killed in the line of duty planning to attend a university, accredited college or other institution of higher learning. Scholarship amount is $2,500 per year, renewable up to 4 consecutive years.


HEALTH INSURANCE

For Firefighters covered by the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System, PFRS shall pay to the employer-sponsored health insurance program all health insurance premiums for the coverage of the firefighter’s surviving spouse and dependent children. Actual health benefits depend on the department’s health plan.

Contact:

New Jersey Department of the Treasury
Division of Pensions and Benefits

50 West State Street
Trenton, NJ 08625-0295
Phone: (609) 292-7524
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.state.nj.us/treasury/pensions/

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 295
Trenton, NJ 08625-0295

(Reference: NJ Statute 43:16A-10)

TAX ABATEMENT

The state of New Jersey does not offer any tax abatements for the survivors of fallen firefighters.


FUNERAL & CREMATION BENEFITS

Dignity Memorial

Phone: (800) 343-4464
Website: www.dignitymemorial.com

Dignity Memorial is a consortium of funeral, cremation and cemetery providers across the United States and Canada. They have a Public Servants Program for first responders and emergency services workers. Dignity provides these services, at no cost, for career and volunteer firefighters who are killed in the line of duty. There is a location finder per state on the website, and funeral directors are encouraged to contact Dignity regarding the first responder program.

Wilbert Funeral Services, Inc.

2913 Gardner Road
Broadview, IL 50155
Phone: 708-681-7040 (Terry Whitlock)
Website: www.wilbert.com

Wilbert provides complimentary burial vaults (including urns vaults) for fallen law enforcement officers and firefighters through 193 licensee locations. Funeral directors should contact Wilbert for information on obtaining vaults.


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.