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The New Jersey Senate on Monday approved legislation that would provide cost-of-living increases for permanently disabled first responders such as police officers and firefighters who receive workers compensation and their survivors, according to a joint statement released by the bill’s co-authors Sen. Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, and Sen. Fred Madden, D-Gloucester.
Passing by a 26-12 vote, S. 1967 would provide an annual cost-of-living adjustment in the weekly workers compensation benefit rate for public safety workers who become totally and permanently disabled due to a workplace injury, or to their surviving dependents of those who died as a result of a workplace injury, according to a statement.
The adjustment will mirror the cost-of-living adjustment already in place for benefits arising from an injury or from death that occurred before 1980, as current law requires annual adjustments to be paid only for cases before Jan. 1, 1980. The COLA would increase the amount of workers comp benefits so the new amount equals the same percent of the maximum benefit as it did when originally awarded.
“Disabled police officers, firefighters and the survivors of those whose lives were lost because of workplace incidents deserve to have cost-of-living increases that allow them to keep pace with growing expenses,” Sen. Sweeney said in a statement. “It would be unfair if they can’t afford to meet their regular expenses to support themselves and their families with paychecks that fall behind expenses.”
The Arizona House of Representatives passed a bill Feb. 20 that would give first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder workers compensation coverage.