Pennsylvania Survivor Benefits

Updated December 2018

ONE-TIME DEATH BENEFIT

The Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefits Act provides for a one-time payment of death benefits to the surviving spouse, minor children, or parents of a firefighter killed in the performance of their duties.

The benefit is adjusted annually for inflation using the Consumer Price Index. The benefit for 1 July 2018 – 30 June 2019 is $143,525.66

Contact:

Pennsylvania Department of General Services
Bureau of Risk and Insurance Management

406 North Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17125
Phone: (717) 787-2492
Fax: (717) 772-3846
E-mail: RA-Brim@pa.gov
Website: www.dgs.pa.gov

(Reference: PA Act 1976 P.L.424, No.101)

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

Dependents of workers who die due to their employment as a paid or volunteer firefighter are entitled to regular payments at the same interval as the deceased received their wages, based on the amount deceased’s wages and limited by the state average weekly wage.

A spouse with no dependent children is entitled to 51% of the deceased’s wages. With one dependent child, this increases to 60%, and with two or more dependent children, 66-2/3%.

If the spouse is not the guardian of any surviving children, these payments shall be split equally between the spouse and all dependent children.

If there is no surviving spouse but there is a surviving dependent child, that child shall receive 32% of the wages. 2 children shall receive 42%, 3 children receive 52, 4 children receive 62, 5 children receive 64%, and 6 or more children receive 66-2/3%.

If there is neither a surviving spouse nor dependent child, dependent parents or siblings are eligible to receive a benefit: 32% for a partially dependent parent, 52% for a totally dependent parent, and 22% for a dependent sibling plus 5% for each additional sibling up to 32%.

This benefit shall continue for any dependent child or sibling until that dependent reaches the age of 18, or 23 if a full-time student, or as long as the dependent is disabled.

For a spouse, this benefit continues until remarriage, at which time they shall receive a lump sum equal to 104 weeks (2 years) worth of payments at 51% of the deceased’s wages.

For volunteer firefighters, their wages shall be assumed to be at lease the full state average weekly wage. If the deceased’s wages are less than 50% of the state average weekly wage, the above shall be computed using 50% of the state average weekly wage instead.

The maximum amount payable for this benefit is the state average weekly wage. The statewide average weekly wage for Pennsylvania in 2018 is $1,025.00 per week.

Contact:

Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry
Bureau of Workers Compensation

1171 S. Cameron Street, Room 324
Harrisburg, PA 17104-2501
Phone: (717) 783-5421
Website: www.dli.pa.gov
E-mail: ra-li-bwc-helpline@pa.gov

(Reference: PA Act 1915, P.L. 736, No. 338, Sections 307, 308, 601)

COMPENSATION FOR DEATH OR DISABILITY OF FIREFIGHTERS FROM OCCUPATIONAL DISEASES

After 4 or more years as a firefighter, the following are presumed to be occupational diseases for firefighters: Hepatitis C, diseases of the heart and lungs, tuberculosis of the respiratory system, or any cancer which is caused by exposure to a known carcinogen which is recognized as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

(Reference: PA Act 1915, P.L. 736, No. 338, Section 106)

FUNERAL BENEFIT

The reasonable expenses of burial, not to exceed $7,000, shall be covered under Workers’ Compensation.

Contact:

Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry
Bureau of Workers Compensation

1171 S. Cameron Street, Room 324
Harrisburg, PA 17104-2501
Phone: (717) 783-5421
Website: www.dli.pa.gov
E-mail: ra-li-bwc-helpline@pa.gov

(Reference: PA Act 1915, P.L. 736, No. 338, Section 307)

RETIREMENT/PENSION PLAN

The Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System administers pension plans for local governments which cover many career firefighters. Details of the plans are tailored to the municipality. In general these plans pay out 50% of the firefighter’s expected pension to the firefighters’ survivors. Contact your local retirement system, or the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System, for more information.

Contact:

Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System
1721 North Front Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102-2315
Phone: (717) 787-2065
Fax: (717) 783-8363
E-mail: ra-staff@pa.gov
Website: www.pmrs.state.pa.us/

Under state law, a spouse or dependent child of a paid firefighter killed in the line of duty shall receive a monthly pension equal to the monthly salary of the firefighter, less any workers’ compensation, other pension, or retirement benefits paid to such survivors. Spouses are eligible for this benefit for life. Children are eligible for this benefit for as long as they are considered dependent. This benefit shall continue and pass among dependents until there is no eligible beneficiary to receive them.

Contact:

Pennsylvania Department of General Services
Bureau of Risk and Insurance Management

406 North Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17125
Phone: (717) 787-2492
Fax: (717) 772-3846
E-mail: RA-Brim@pa.gov
Website: https://www.dgs.pa.gov/Local%20Government%20and%20Schools/Line-of-Duty-Death-Benefits/Pages/default.aspx

(Reference: PA Act 1976 P.L.424, No.101)

EDUCATION BENEFIT – CHILDREN

The Postsecondary Educational Gratuity Program provides a waiver for tuition, fees, and on-campus room and board costs charged by a Pennsylvania public postsecondary institution. This waiver applies only to charges that remain after all other grants (federal, state, and outside scholarships) have been applied. This benefit is available for a maximum of 5 years, and can be put toward an associate or baccalaureate degree. The child must be 25 years of age or younger at the time of initial application for the program.

Contact:

Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency
Postsecondary Educational Gratuity Program
State Grant and Special Programs

P.O. Box 8157
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8157
Phone: (800) 692-7392
Fax: (717) 720-3786
E-mail: pegp@pheaa.org
Website: www.pheaa.org


EDUCATION BENEFIT – SPOUSE

Spouses are not eligible for the benefit outlined above.


NON-PROFIT OR PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS

Firemen’s Association State of Pennsylvania

484 Allegheny Avenue
Suite 2D
Franklin, PA 16323
Phone: (814) 432-5080
Fax: (814) 432-5087
E-mail: faspsecretary@aol.com
Website: http://pafirefighters.org

Members of the FASP are eligible for a $500 death benefit after 1 year of membership. Scholarships are available for children & grandchildren of deceased or living firefighters that were a member of the Firemen’s Association of the State of Pennsylvania. Scholarship amounts are $500 toward an associate’s degree or $1,000 toward a bachelor’s degree.

Kids’ Chance of Pennsylvania

1231 Highland Avenue
Ft. Washington, PA 19034
Phone: (215) 302-3598
E-mail: info@kidschanceofpa.org
Website: http://kidschanceofpa.org/
Kids’ Chance of Pennsylvania offers scholarships to students with a parent who has been seriously or fatally injured in a workplace accident in the state of Pennsylvania. The applicant must be under the age of 25. Applicant must be entering to study or already studying toward receiving an undergraduate bachelor or associates degree. Applicants are eligible for 4 years or 8 semesters of scholarship award. The scholarships vary in amount based on demonstrated need and available funds. The average scholarship during the 2017-2018 school year was $3,302.

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

Pennsylvania has enacted a “mini-COBRA” law to supplement the federal COBRA law. This law allows employees and their survivors to continue health care coverage offered by an employer with between 2 and 19 employees for up to 9 months after employment ends with premiums not to exceed 105% the group rate. Additional health insurance continuation, benefits, and cost vary by municipality and in some cases pension plan.

Contact your fire department for more information.

(Reference: PA 2009 Act 2 Sec. 635.4)

TAX ABATEMENT

Pennsylvania state law allows any municipality to establish a program to abate all or a portion of the property taxes due on real property owned and occupied as the principal residence of the surviving spouse of a firefighter who dies while in performance of their duties. Contact your local municipal government to see if this has been enacted for your benefit.

(Reference: PA Public Act No. 00-215)

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.