Washington, D.C. – Legislation that would extend the Public Safety Officers Benefit (PSOB) has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and now awaits President Bush’s signature. The Mychal Judge Police and Fire Chaplains Safety Officers Benefit Act would allow all beneficiaries of fallen fire fighters, not just parents, spouses, or children to receive the federal compensation.
The measure passed the Senate on May 6, 2002. But when it was moved to the House, some members of the Congressional leadership acted to stall the legislation. However, the House was unable to keep the Judge Act buried, passing it on June 11. Once the President signs the bill, the Judge Act will go into effect retroactive to Sept. 11, 2001.
The legislation, named after the FDNY Chaplain, was proposed after it was discovered that ten public safety officers who gave their lives on Sept. 11 would not be eligible for death benefits because they did not have any surviving immediate family.
The Public Safety Officers’ Benefit program provides $250,000 for the families of fire fighters, emergency response workers and law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. The program has been criticized in the past for the lengthy and difficult application process. In response, Congress passed a bill that speeds relief to the families of officers who died on Sept. 11.