Bill Text: NJ S2430 | 2020-2021 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Extends eligibility for accidental disability and accidental death benefits to certain PFRS, SPRS, and PERS members who contract COVID-19 and test positive for SARS-CoV-2.*

Spectrum: Slight Partisan Bill (Democrat 2-1)

Status: (Introduced) 2020-06-29 - Substituted by A3945 (2R) [S2430 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2020-S2430-Introduced.html

SENATE, No. 2430

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

219th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MAY 7, 2020

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  LINDA R. GREENSTEIN

District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Extends eligibility for accidental disability and accidental death benefits to certain PFRS and PERS members who contract infectious diseases during public health emergency or state of emergency.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning eligibility for accidental disability and accidental death benefits for certain members of the Police and Firemen's Retirement System and the Public Employees' Retirement System who contract infectious diseases during a public health emergency or state of emergency and supplementing P.L.1944, c.255 (C.43:16A-1 et seq.)  and P.L.1954, c.84 (C.43:15A-1 et seq.).

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    For purposes of paragraph (1) of subsection a. of section 7 P.L.1944, c.255 (C.43:16A-7), permanent and total disability shall be deemed to have occurred as a direct result of a traumatic event occurring during and as a result of the performance of regular or assigned duties if:

     the member contracts an infectious disease during the period of a public health emergency or state of emergency declared because of that disease;

     the member is permanently and totally disabled as a result of the disease; and

     the member's regular or assigned duties required the member to interact, and the member so interacted, with the public on any date after the declaration of the public health emergency or state of emergency and within two weeks prior to the appearance of symptoms that shall have been confirmed by a physician.

     A member who has been approved for a retirement allowance pursuant to a provision other than this section or section 7 of P.L.1944, c.255 (C.43:16A-7) prior to the effective date of this act, P.L.    , c.        (pending before the Legislature as this bill), may apply for a retirement allowance pursuant to this section and, if approved, the prior approval shall be rescinded and the retirement allowance pursuant to approval under this section shall be made retroactive to the date of the initial approval of the rescinded retirement allowance.

     This section shall not apply to any member who has retired and subsequently returned to employment pursuant to Executive Order No. 115 of 2020 or any other executive order similarly permitting a retired member to return to employment without reenrollment to assist during a public health emergency or state of emergency.

 

     2.    For purposes of paragraph (1) of section 10 of P.L.1944, c.255 (C.43:16A-10), a member whose death is attributable to an infectious disease, complications therefrom, or the aggravation or acceleration of a preexisting condition caused thereby shall be deemed to have occurred as the result of an accident met in the actual performance of duty at some definite time and place if:

     the member contracted an infectious disease during the period of a public health emergency or state of emergency declared because of that disease;

     the member dies as a result of the disease; and

     the member's regular or assigned duties required the member to interact, and the member so interacted, with the public on any date after the declaration of the public health emergency or state of emergency and within two weeks prior to the appearance of symptoms that shall have been confirmed by a physician.

     The filing of an accident report with the Police and Firemen's Retirement System shall not be required for an accidental death benefit allowed pursuant to this section.

     If a benefit has been approved pursuant to a provision other than this section or section 10 of P.L.1944, c.255 (C.43:16A-10) prior to the effective date of this act, P.L.   , c.        (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a beneficiary may apply for a benefit pursuant to this section and, if approved, the prior approval shall be rescinded and the benefit pursuant to approval under this section shall be made retroactive to the date of the initial approval of the rescinded benefit.

     This section shall not apply to any member who has retired and subsequently returned to employment pursuant to Executive Order No. 115 of 2020 or any other executive order similarly permitting a retired member to return to employment without reenrollment to assist during a public health emergency or state of emergency.

 

     3.    As used in this section, "law enforcement officer" includes, but shall not be limited to, sheriff's officers and corrections officers.

     For purposes of subsection a. of section 43 of P.L.1954, c.84 (C.43:15A-43), permanent and total disability of member who is a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder eligible to retire pursuant to  that subsection a. shall be deemed to have occurred as a direct result of a traumatic event occurring during and as a result of the performance of regular or assigned duties if:

     the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder contracts an infectious disease during the period of a public health emergency or state of emergency declared because of that disease;

     the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder is permanently and totally disabled as a result of the disease; and

     the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder's regular or assigned duties required the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder to interact, and the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder so interacted, with the public on any date after the declaration of the public health emergency or state of emergency and within two weeks prior to the appearance of symptoms that shall have been confirmed by a physician.

     A member who is a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder and who has been approved for a retirement allowance pursuant to a provision other than this section or section 43 of P.L.1954, c.84 (C.43:15A-43) prior to the effective date of this act, P.L.   , c.        (pending before the Legislature as this bill), may apply for a retirement allowance pursuant to this section and, if approved, the prior approval shall be rescinded and the retirement allowance pursuant to approval under this section shall be made retroactive to the date of the initial approval of the rescinded retirement allowance.

     This section shall not apply to any member who has retired and subsequently returned to employment pursuant to Executive Order No. 115 of 2020 or any other executive order similarly permitting a retired member to return to employment without reenrollment to assist during a public health emergency or state of emergency.

 

     4.    As used in this section, "law enforcement officer" includes, but shall not be limited to, sheriff's officers and corrections officers.

     For purposes of paragraph (1) of subsection a. of section 49 of P.L.1954, c.84 (C.43:15A-49), a member who is a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder and whose death is attributable to an infectious disease, complications therefrom, or the aggravation or acceleration of a preexisting condition caused thereby shall be deemed to have occurred as the result of an accident met in the actual performance of duty at some definite time and place if:

     the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder contracted an infectious disease during the period of a public health emergency or state of emergency declared because of that disease;

     the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder dies as a result of the disease; and

     the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder's regular or assigned duties required the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder to interact, and the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder so interacted, with the public on any date after the declaration of the public health emergency or state of emergency and within two weeks prior to the appearance of symptoms that shall have been confirmed by a physician.

     The filing of an accident report with the Public Employees' Retirement System shall not be required for an accidental death benefit allowed pursuant to this section.

     If an application of a beneficiary has been approved pursuant to a provision other than this section or section 49 of P.L.1954, c.84 (C.43:15A-49) prior to the effective date of this act, P.L.   , c.     (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a beneficiary may apply for a benefit pursuant to this section and, if approved, the prior approval shall be rescinded and the benefit pursuant to approval under this section shall be made retroactive to the date of the rescinded initial approval.

     This section shall not apply to any member who has retired and subsequently returned to employment pursuant to Executive Order No. 115 of 2020 or any other executive order similarly permitting a retired member to return to employment without reenrollment to assist during a public health emergency or state of emergency.

 

     5.    This act shall take effect immediately and shall be retroactive to January 1, 2020.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill extends accidental disability and accidental death benefits to eligible law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical responders enrolled in the Police and Firemen's Retirement System (PFRS) and Public Employees' Retirement System (PERS) who contract infectious diseases during a public health emergency or state of emergency declared as a result of that disease.

     In order to qualify for accidental disability benefits, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical responders enrolled in the systems need to sustain a permanent and total disability as a result of a traumatic event occurring during and as a result of regular or assigned duties.  This bill provides that exposure to an infectious disease during a public health emergency or state of emergency declared as a result of that disease is considered a traumatic event occurring during and as a result of regular and assigned duties provided that (1) the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder contracted an infectious disease during a public health emergency or state of emergency declared because of that disease, (2) the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder is permanently and totally disabled as a result of the disease, and (3) the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder's regular or assigned duties required the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder to interact, and the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder so interacted, with the public on any date after the declaration of the public health emergency or state of emergency and within two weeks prior to the appearance of symptoms that confirmed by a physician.

     Upon the death of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder, eligible beneficiaries of those enrolled in the systems can obtain an accidental death benefit provided the accident occurred during the performance of duty at some definite time and place. Under this bill, the death of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder that is attributable to an infectious disease, complications therefrom, or the aggravation or acceleration of a preexisting condition caused thereby will be deemed to have occurred as the result of an accident met in the actual performance of duty at some definite time and place if (1) the law enforcement officer, firefighter,  or emergency medical responder contracted an infectious disease during the period of a public health emergency or state of emergency declared because of that disease, (2) the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder dies as a result of the disease, and (3) the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder's regular or assigned duties required the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder to interact, and the law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical responder so interacted, with the public on any date after the declaration of the public health emergency or state of emergency and within two weeks prior to the appearance of symptoms that are confirmed by a physician.

     Retired law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical responders who return to employment pursuant to Executive Order No. 115 of 2020 or any other executive order similarly permitting a retiree to return to work without reenrollment to assist during a public health emergency or state of emergency are not eligible convert their current retirement benefit to reflect the accidental disability and accidental death benefits provided in this bill.

     Finally, this bill is retroactive to January 1, 2020 to cover all states of emergency that have arisen on or after that date.

     Law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical responders willingly place their lives at risk in order to ensure the well-being and safety of our communities every day.  This is true now more than ever as many are currently serving on the frontlines of a global pandemic helping victims in need, containing the spread of the virus, and preventing future infections. Expanding these benefits is one way we acknowledge their heroism during a public health emergency or state of emergency and provide for both them and their families in times of need.

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