WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, January 26th, 2021. Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Raul Ruiz (CA-36) introduced bipartisan legislation to increase the financial assistance provided to the families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. In addition to substantially increasing the death and disability benefit for families of fallen officers, H.R. 483, the Heroes Lesley Zerebny and Gil Vega First Responders Survivors Support Act updates the Public Safety Officers’ Benefit (PSOB) Program to ensure families do not suffer financial loss due to administrative delays.
“Our police officers, firefighters, and other first responders put their lives at risk every single day to protect our communities. The families of fallen first responders have already sacrificed so much, they deserve our full support,” said Fitzpatrick. “The First Responders Survivors Support Act will not only increase the benefits paid to the families of our hero fallen first responders but also take huge steps to remove bureaucratic barriers to better help families of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. I look forward to working with Congressman Ruiz to continue to support our hero law enforcement and their loved ones however we can.”
“The murder of Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian Sicknick during the violent insurrection on January 6th is a painful reminder that each time law enforcement officers put on their uniforms, they are putting their lives on the line for our safety,” said Ruiz. “Officers are there for us in our time of need – we must be there for their families in theirs. That’s why I introduced the Heroes Lesley Zerebny and Gil Vega First Responders Survivors Support Act. Inspired by the bravery of Palm Springs Officers Lesley Zerebny and Gil Vega, Capitol Police Officer Sicknick, and by the experiences of families of fallen officers, this bill would modernize the antiquated survivor benefits for families of fallen officers, provide them with needed financial support while they grieve, and give them peace of mind during an unimaginably difficult time in their lives.”
The Heroes Lesley Zerebny and Gil Vega First Responders Survivors Support Act makes four key changes to the PSOB Program.
- Increases the PSOB death and disability benefit from $370,376 to $550,000.
- Fixes the benefit determination date by setting it to the date of disbursement rather than the date of death.
- Increases the education benefit from $1,265 to $2,200 and sets the inflation rate to reflect the actual cost of rising tuition.
- Authorizes a GAO study to identify ways to improve access and utilization of the PSOB education benefit.
The PSOB Program was established in 1976 to encourage more people to enter the public safety officer workforce by providing them with assurances that their families will receive a robust death benefit if they lose their life in the line of duty.