Firefighters, like other employees in Pennsylvania, have a right to workers’ compensation benefits if they are injured on the job. Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act), workers may receive compensation for reasonable costs associated with workplace injuries and illnesses, such as medical expenses and lost wages.
The National Fire Protection Association reports that there were 58,835 firefighter injuries reported in the U.S. in 2017. Common injuries included strains and sprains, exposure to hazardous conditions, and injuries from motor vehicle accidents.
Families of Deceased Firefighters’ Right to Benefits
Firefighters put their own safety at risk to protect the lives of others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), they have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. When firefighters are fatally injured in the line of duty, their surviving family members are entitled to collect state and federal death benefits.
State Benefits for Survivors of Firefighters
Survivors of firefighters who died in the performance of their duties may be eligible to receive several state benefits, including:
- Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits: Under the Act, surviving dependents of workers who die as a result of a work-related injury or illness may receive death benefits of up to $3,000 in funeral expenses as well as weekly benefits based on the deceased worker’s average weekly wages.
- Act 101 Death Benefit: The Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefits Act (Act 101) grants a one-time lump sum payment to surviving family members of deceased firefighters; the amount for fiscal year 2018-2019 is $143,525.66.
- Act 51 Service Benefit: This Act provides monthly supplementary income to the decedent’s spouse or surviving minor children.
- Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA): Surviving children of fallen firefighters may be eligible for tuition benefits through the Post-secondary Education Gratuity Program.
Federal Benefits for Families of Fallen Firefighters
Certain family members of firefighters who were killed in the line of duty may be eligible for several federal benefits, including:
- Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Act of 1976 (PSOB): Qualifying survivors of federal employees may receive death benefits from this program administered by the U.S. Department of Justice.
- Lump sum payment for final pay and unused annual leave: The employing agency pays survivors a lump sum payment for the deceased’s final pay and unused annual leave.
- Death Gratuity payment from Head of Department or Agency: The head of the fire department may authorize a death gratuity payment of up to $10,000.
- Federal Employees’ Compensation Act: Dependents of civilian employees who died as a result of a work-related injury or illness may be entitled to death benefits under this Act.
- Public Safety Officers’ Educational Assistance Program: Children and spouses of firefighters killed in the line of duty may receive educational assistance through this program.
- Other benefits: May include a Social Security lump sum death payment, and retirement, life insurance, and health insurance benefits.
Reading Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Help Families of Fallen Firefighters Obtain the Benefits to Which They Are Entitled
If your loved one has died in the line of duty as a firefighter, contact a Reading workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Our experienced attorneys proudly represent firefighters and their families in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania. Call 888-PITT-LAW today or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
We represent injured workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Philadelphia County, including those in the communities of Abington, Ambler, Ardmore, Bala Cynwyd, Bensalem, Clifton Heights, Crum Lynne, Darby, Downingtown, Doylestown, Drexel Hill, Essington, Folcroft, Glenolden, Haverford, Havertown, Holmes, Kutztown, Lansdowne, Media, Merion Station, Morton, Narberth, Norristown, Norwood, Philadelphia, Prospect Park, Quakertown, Reading, Roxborough, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, West Chester and Wynnewood.