The recent rise in deaths of first responders has showcased the need for awareness of provisions of federal line-of-duty death benefits as well as related information. While most first responders know federal benefits exist, many assume things about them that are not true. Such as the types of activities covered, how beneficiaries are determined, and more. Unfortunately, misconceptions are typically not brought to light until after a tragedy has occurred, and it is too late to take action that could have made a difference for survivors.
Misconceptions exist because most first responders never have any involvement with the federal benefits. Even most chiefs go their entire career without ever having any reason to deal with them directly.
But, with the benefit for death or permanent and total disability currently set at $370,670 plus college assistance for a spouse and all dependent children, it is something that should not be left to chance. It warrants attention by all who serve, and it is incumbent on leaders to ensure agencies have done their part to prepare and inform.
The purpose of this article and those that will follow is to present information that will be particularly important following the duty-related death of a first responder but is especially important to know beforehand.
In this first issue, we will discuss federal presumptive provisions regarding COVID-19 and how COVID related deaths are treated by the national memorials. In the next issue, we will answer the question: “If one of my members or I fall in the line-of-duty and federal benefits are approved, who will be paid?” We will explain how many first responders could choose who that recipient would be, as well as how, in some cases, there would be no recipient without action taken in advance.
With the dramatic increase in line-of-duty deaths and more anticipated from the ongoing pandemic, we hope you will agree that this is critical and timely information.