Virginia Survivor Benefits

Updated December 2018

ONE-TIME DEATH BENEFIT

A one-time payment of $100,000 shall be paid to the dependents of a fallen paid or volunteer firefighter under the Virginia Line of Duty Act (LODA). If the firefighter passes due to an occupational disease, this payment is instead $25,000. If the deceased did not specify to whom this payment should go in their will, the following order is used to determine the recipient: spouse, children and grandchildren, parents, siblings and their children, next of kin by blood, and next of kin by marriage.

Contact:

LODA Fund Administration
PO Box 2500
Richmond, VA 23218-2500
Phone: (888) 827-3847
Website: www.valoda.org/benefits
E-mail: loda@varetire.org

(Reference: Code of Virginia Section 9.1-402)

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION

A fallen firefighter’s dependents are entitled to weekly payments for 500 weeks (approximately 9 years and 8 months) from the date of injury causing death. These weekly payments shall be equal to 66-2/3% of the firefighter’s average weekly wages, with a maximum payment of 100% of the average weekly wage of the Commonwealth and a minimum of 25% of the average weekly wage.
Benefits shall be divided equally among total dependents. Those presumed to be dependent are: a spouse, child physically or mentally incapacitated from earning a livelihood, a child under the age of 18, and a child under the age of twenty-three if enrolled as a full-time student in any accredited educational institution. Destitute parents are presumed to be dependents if there are no other dependents.
Effective 1 July 2018 until 30 June 2019, the average weekly wage for Virginia is $1,082, making the minimum amount payable $270.50 per week.
Wages for volunteer firefighters under the supervision and control of the Department of Forestry shall be presumed to be the amount that entitles them to the maximum compensation payable. Wages for all other volunteer firefighters shall be presumed to be the amount that entitles them to the minimum compensation payable.

Contact:

Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission
333 E. Franklin St.
Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: (877) 664-2566
Website: www.vwc.state.va.us
E-mail: Questions@workcomp.virginia.gov

(Reference: Code of Virginia Sections 65.2-101, 65.2-512, 65.2-515)

COMPENSATION FOR DEATH OR DISABILITY OF FIREFIGHTERS FROM OCCUPATIONAL DISEASES

The death or disability of a salaried or volunteer firefighter caused by respiratory diseases, hypertension or heart disease shall be presumed to have been suffered in the line of duty.

Leukemia, pancreatic, prostate, rectal, throat, ovarian, or breast cancer causing the death or disability of any volunteer or salaried firefighter having completed 12 years of continuous service who has a contact with a toxic substance encountered in the line of duty shall be presumed to be an occupational disease suffered in the line of duty.

A “toxic substance” is defined as one which is a known or suspected carcinogen as defined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and which causes or is suspected to cause any of the above cancers.

The firefighter must have been found free of such disease during a physical examination before making a claim using these presumptions.

(Reference: Code of Virginia Section 27-40.1, 65.2-402)

FUNERAL BENEFIT

Burial expenses not exceeding $10,000 and reasonable transportation expenses for the deceased not exceeding $1,000 shall be paid under workers’ compensation law. The Virginia Line of Duty Act also allows for survivors to receive an advance on their LODD payment for the purposes of covering immediate funeral expenses.

Contact:

Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission
333 E. Franklin St.
Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: (877) 664-2566
Website: www.vwc.state.va.us
E-mail: Questions@workcomp.virginia.gov

(Reference: Code of Virginia Sections 9.1-402.1, 65.2-512)

RETIREMENT/PENSION PLAN

Volunteer Firefighters

The Virginia Volunteer Firefighters’ & Rescue Squad Workers’ Service Award Program (VOLSAP) was created to provide a mechanism by which the state could facilitate optional retirement savings for volunteer firefighters and rescue squad workers throughout the Commonwealth. If an eligible volunteer firefighter dies before a service award is paid, there shall be paid to their beneficiary an amount equal to the contributions they have made, the matching contributions made on their behalf, and any investment gains on such contributions less any losses.

Contact:

Volunteer Firefighters’ & Rescue Squad Workers’ Service Award Program
Wells Fargo IRT Texas Service Center/VOLSAP

P.O. Box 2577
Waco, TX 76702-2577
Phone: (844) 749-1819
Website: www.volsap.org
E-mail: volsap@varetire.org

Career Firefighters

The Virginia Retirement System has two plans which cover career firefighters based on the date of their entry into the service. Both plans offer Group Life Insurance with an accidental death benefit. This benefit is equal to the firefighter’s annual salary, rounded up to the next multiple of 1,000, then multiplied by 4. The plans also offer additional Group Life Insurance coverage for the firefighter, up to $750,000.

In addition to a refund of any member contributions and interest in the firefighter’s member contribution account, dependents are eligible for a monthly benefit equal to 33-1/3% of the firefighter’s final average compensation if the beneficiary is eligible for Social Security survivor benefits, and 50% if they are not. A surviving spouse shall receive this monthly benefit until death. If there is no spouse, a minor child or minor children shall receive it until the age of 18, with the benefit being redistributed to any remaining minor children as each reaches the age of 18. Finally, a surviving parent or parents will receive this benefit until death if there is neither a spouse nor minor child at the time of death.

If there is a designated beneficiary other than the family members listed above, that beneficiary shall receive the benefits outline here.

Counties, cities, and towns with a population of 5,000 or more are able to implement their own retirement system in addition to or in replacement of the Virginia Retirement System.

Contact:

Virginia Retirement System
P.O. Box 2500
Richmond, VA 23218-2500
Phone: (888) 827-3847
Website: https://www.varetire.org/members/benefits/defined-benefit/plan1.asp
E-mail: member-info@varetire.org

(Reference: Code of Virginia Sections 51.1-162, 51.1-1206)

EDUCATION BENEFIT – CHILDREN

Any child between the ages of 16 and 25 who has a parent killed in the line of duty while employed or serving as a firefighter is entitled to a waiver of undergraduate tuition and mandatory fees at any public institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This waiver shall cover tuition, institutional charges, mandatory educational and auxiliary fees, and books and supplies. It shall not cover fees such as room and board charges. Students in good standing can renew this waiver yearly.


EDUCATION BENEFIT – SPOUSE

Spouses are eligible for the same benefit described above. The age requirement does not apply to spouses.
Contact the financial aid office of the public college or university you plan to attend or currently attend for forms and more information.

(Reference: Code of Virginia Section 23.1-609)

NON-PROFIT OR PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS

Virginia Public Safety Foundation

Attn: Chris Atkins, Executive Director
2201 West Main Street
Richmond VA 23220
Phone: (804) 648-6299 x1004
Fax: (804) 359-9680
Website: vsfa.org
E-mail: vpsf@alliancegroupltd.com

VPSF provides immediate cash grant assistance to the families of public safety officers killed in the line of duty. Their goal is to deliver this assistance as soon as possible following a public safety officer’s death. $2,000 is given to each family. VPSF also offers scholarships for the children, life partners, and spouses of fallen firefighters and other safety officers to pay for room and board or textbooks for students pursuing an undergraduate education or professional certification. Children must be under the age of 25. Spouses and life partners must request this benefit within 5 years of the LODD. Scholarship amounts are up to $1,000 per school year.

Virginia State Firefighters Association

Phone: (888) 640-5655
Website: vsfa.org
E-mail: Contact Form

Members of the VSFA are eligible for a $10,000 LODD benefit.

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

The Virginia Line of Duty Act (LODA) allows eligible spouses and dependents to maintain health insurance in the LODA Health Benefits Plans, administered by the Department of Human Resource Management.

These plans are modeled upon state employee health benefits program plans and are premium-free for the dependents of fallen firefighters. For specifics about coverage benefits and deductibles, please contact the DHRM or visit their website.

With the exception of disabled persons eligible for Medicare due to disability under Social Security Disability Insurance or a Railroad Retirement Board Disability Annuity, and dependents covered under LODA before 1 July 2017, this coverage ceases at the age of 65 for spouses. Coverage for a spouse also ceases upon remarriage, if that marriage occurs or occurred on or after 1 July 2017. Coverage for a child ceases at the end of the year in which they reach age 26.

Contact:

Health Benefits Program
Ombudsman
101 North 14th Street, 12th Floor
Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: (804) 225-3642 or (804) 225-2131 (General Line)
Fax: (804) 371-7401
Website: www.dhrm.virginia.gov
E-mail: loda@dhrm.virginia.gov

(Reference: Code of Virginia Section 9.1-400, 9.1-401)

TAX ABATEMENT

As of 1 Jan 2017, any county, city, or town may exempt a surviving spouse’s real property used as their principal place of residence from the local property tax. Spouses are eligible for this benefit until death or remarriage. If the properties assessed value is not in excess of the average assessed value for a single-family residential property, this shall be a total exemption. If it is in excess, only the portion of the value over the average shall be subject to property taxes.

Contact your local government for applicability and instructions on how to claim this benefit.

(Reference: Code of Virginia Section 58.1-3219.14)

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.