President Biden signs bill into law expanding Public Safety Officers' Benefits program

The Protecting America’s First Responders Act addresses general eligibility, 9/11 disability provisions, COVID-19 presumption and other benefits


By EMS1 staff

WASHINGTON — President Biden on Thursday signed into law the Protecting America’s First Responders Act, which expands the Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) program and makes certain changes to allow the program to function in an improved manner. 

As reported by the Congressional Fire Services Institute, the bill (P.L.117-61) specifies that public safety officers, including firefighters, who have suffered catastrophic injuries may continue to be employed as long as the employment meets certain criteria, such as minimal compensation, or work done for therapeutic purposes.

Related to 9/11 first responders, the bill retroactively extends the updated disability provision to personnel who responded to the attacks 20 years ago.

The Protecting America’s First Responders Act also:

  • Expands eligibility to include public safety officers who were not previously covered, like fire-police;
  • Ties certain benefit amounts to when the ruling is made, not when the claim was filed;
  • Makes adjustments to the education benefit for dependents; and
  • Doubles the interim death payment from $3,000 to $6,000 and links it to the Consumer Price Index for adjustments.

In addition, the bill includes an extension of COVID-19 presumption, whereby a public safety officer who dies or is injured after contracting COVID-19 (within certain limits) is considered to have contracted the illness on the job and is therefore eligible for PSOB benefits. 

Learn more on the Department of Justice PSOB website.

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