In New Jersey, a measure that would provide workers’ compensation benefits to spouses of certain deceased fire and police personnel for the entire period of survivorship was signed into law last Thursday.
The newly signed law (S-1469/A-2756) allows surviving spouses of members of the New Jersey State Police or members of fire or police departments who die in the line of duty to continue receiving weekly workers’ compensation benefits for as long as the spouse lives, regardless of remarriage.
Currently, surviving spouses receive a lump sum upon any remarriage that occurs during the first 450 weeks of benefits. The lump sum is equal to 100 times the amount of weekly compensation prior to remarriage. Following existing law, the payment of weekly compensation benefits ceases if the surviving spouse remarries.
But under the new law, surviving spouses will no longer receive the lump sum upon remarriage, but instead continue collecting weekly workers’ compensation benefits as long as the surviving spouse lives, even after remarriage and even if the remarriage occurs after the first 450 weeks of benefits. The law takes effect immediately.
Provisions of the law do not apply to a surviving spouse of fire and police personnel who died in the line of duty if that surviving spouse already received a lump sum payment or remarried prior to the effective date of the legislation.
“There is no greater tragedy than when a police officer or firefighter is killed in action. These heroes sacrificed their lives to protect the community and we have a responsibility to look out for their surviving spouses and dependents,” said state Sen. Fred Madden (D-Gloucester and Camden), one of the sponsors of the Senate bill. “This legislation is a way of offering support to their grieving loved ones and helping to relieve the financial burden they face as they move forward with their lives.”
“These are dangerous professions with potentially deadly consequences,” said state Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union), who was a primary sponsor for the Assembly’s bill. “Police and fire personnel should have the peace of mind that their families will be provided for if they are killed in the line of duty. The work that they do and the risks they take warrants it.”
Source: New Jersey Assembly Majority Office, New Jersey Senate Democrats
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