NJ Bill Would Give Cost-Of-Living Hikes To Disabled First Responders
On October 29, 2018, the New Jersey Senate approved legislation that would provide cost-of-living increases to certain disabled public safety workers who receive workers’ compensation benefits. Because this bill provides public safety workers with cost-of-living adjustments that would increase the amount of money they receive as part of their workers’ compensation benefits, it could dramatically improve the lives of many injured workers and their families, if enacted into law. Here are some of the basic features of this new piece of legislation and how it will impact injured public safety workers and their families.
The Basics Of S-1967
This new bill, titled S-1967, is co-authored by Senator Stephen Sweeney (D- Gloucester), the Senate President, and Senator Fred Madden, Jr. (D-Gloucester), the chairman of the Senate Labor Committee. The aim of the bill is to provide disabled public safety workers, namely first responders such as police officers and firefighters, with enough compensation to allow themselves and their families to cover their living expenses. As such, the bill specifically provides that first responders, who are injured in the line of duty, are entitled to receive annual cost-of-living adjustments of their weekly workers’ compensation payments. This annual cost-of-living adjustment will theoretically allow disabled first responders to pay for their living expenses in the face of inflation. However, there are some restrictions on which first responders would be able to receive an annual cost-of-living adjustment. According to the bill, injured first responders may only receive annual cost-of-living adjustments to their weekly workers’ compensation payments if they are deemed to be totally and permanently disabled. Thus, first responders who are only partially disabled after receiving a work-related injury may not be entitled to receive an annual cost-of-living workers’ compensation payment adjustment.
What This Bill Could Mean For Injured First Responders And Their Families
Bill S-1967, while still not state law as of now, will have far-reaching impacts on the lives of those totally and permanently disabled first responders who did not start to receive workers’ compensation until after January 1, 1980. According to New Jersey law, first responders who started to receive workers’ compensation for their work-related disability before January 1, 1980 have always received annual cost-of-living adjustments of their workers’ compensation payments. This new piece of legislation mirrors the annual cost-of-living adjustments given to those first responders who started to receive workers’ compensation prior to January 1, 1980. Accordingly, this new bill, if enacted into law, would provide all totally and permanently disabled first responders with the same benefits.
Moreover, if passed into law, this law would allow all totally and permanently disabled first responders to receive the same percentage of the maximum benefit they are initially awarded as opposed to receiving the same monetary value for which they were awarded years ago. This would mean, essentially, that those first responders who started collecting workers’ compensation years ago may finally be able to receive benefits that cover their living expenses now as opposed to only covering the amount of what their living expenses cost years ago.
Contact an Atlantic City Workers’ Compensation Lawyer to Discuss Your New Jersey Workplace Injury Case
A workplace injury can be devastating, particularly if it prevents you from returning to work for an extended period of time. Although NJ Workers’ Compensation laws are supposed to provide you with reimbursement for medical expenses and replacement pay for missed time at work, it is not always easy to get the Workers’ Comp benefits you deserve. That is why you should speak with a knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation lawyer about your situation and get guidance throughout the claims process. The experienced Workers’ Compensation attorneys at Brown Law represent clients in Egg Harbor, Atlantic City, Galloway Township, Hamilton, and all across New Jersey. Call 609-336-4144 or email us today to schedule a free consultation about your work injury case. Our main office is located at 3123 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 201, Atlantic City, NJ 08401.
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