August 25, 2020
Bulletin 31 – 20
LEGISLATION TO ESTABLISH PRESUMPTIVE BENEFIT FOR COVID-19 SIGNED INTO LAW
Reminder to Update Your Beneficiary Information
and Increase Your Supplemental Life and AD&D Coverage
As we continue to mourn the tragic loss of our Brother Jose Perez, who passed due to complications from COVID-19, UFLAC wanted to provide information to our members regarding recent bipartisan legislation that was endorsed by the International Association of Fire Fighters to establish a presumptive benefit under the Public Safety Officer Benefit (PSOB) Program for public safety officers who contract COVID-19. This also serves as a stark reminder to review your own Dependent and Beneficiary information and confirm that your affairs are in order to make sure your loved ones are financially secure should the unthinkable happen.
Public Safety Officers Benefits Program
On August 14th, President Trump signed bipartisan legislation by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to improve timely access to financial assistance for families of public safety officers lost to COVID-19. The Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act (SAFR) clarifies certification requirements for survivor benefits under the PSOB Program to account for the unique challenges presented by the current coronavirus pandemic.
“While this pandemic has changed daily life for so many Americans, our brave first responders have continued to put their lives on the line to protect our communities – and they’ve done so at significantly increased risk to themselves and to their families. We have lost far too many first responders to COVID-19, and their families will now without question receive the federal benefits they deserve in their time of unimaginable loss. Our first responders never hesitate to answer the call, and we must always answer theirs,” Booker said.
“Today’s vote sends a loud and clear message to America’s public safety officers: We appreciate your steadfast dedication in the most trying times and we’re here to help if the unthinkable happens. Losing a first responder in the line of duty is always devastating. Families of those lost to COVID-19 shouldn’t face an uphill struggle to access financial support promised to them. The government already provides payments to families of officers or first responders who die or are permanently disabled from a work-related event. This bipartisan bill recognizes the unique challenges posed by this pandemic and better ensures that public safety officers’ families can quickly access financial help,” Senator Grassley said.
The PSOB Program, administered by the Justice Department, provides death benefits to survivors of police officers and first responders who perish in the line of duty or as a result of a work-related event. It also provides disability benefits to those who are permanently disabled due to their work. The program requires evidence linking deaths or disabilities caused by an infectious disease to work-related activity. In many cases, the origin of an infection can be easily identified, but determining where and when someone contracts COVID-19 in the midst of a global pandemic presents a unique challenge.
SAFR works to overcome this challenge by establishing a temporary presumption that COVID-19 infections will be considered to be contracted while on duty if diagnosed within 45 days of an officer’s last shift. The legislation ensures that families of officers and first responders lost or disabled while fighting the pandemic don’t face unnecessary barriers to benefits they’ve already been promised.
As the PSOB Office receives claims based on COVID-19 exposure, it will work closely with survivors, officers, and agencies to obtain whatever evidence may be needed to support each claim, through all available information, including incident reports and related documents.
Confirm Your Beneficiary Information
When is the last time you checked your beneficiaries? Although it may not always be on the top of your mind, please remember to confirm and update your current dependent and beneficiary information on all of your personal documents. Should there ever be a need to use this information, we want to make sure that you and your loved ones are covered in case of an emergency.
Most of us sign-up for a policy and forget that our lives are constantly changing. Your status may change due to marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, etc., which is why we recommend taking the time to review and update your personal accounts (pension, bank and brokerage, and life insurance policies) on an annual basis.
You can update your Beneficiary information by calling the UFLAC Benefits Office at 213.977.9014, extension 2. To make changes and learn more, visit www.uflacbenefitenrollment.com.
Increase Your Supplemental Life and AD&D Coverage During Open Enrollment
Open Enrollment is right around the corner and this is your chance to increase your UFLAC Supplemental Life/AD&D (Accidental Death & Dismemberment) Coverage. If you participate in the Basic coverage, you are eligible for Supplemental Life and AD&D coverage.
Open Enrollment will take place from September 14th – October 31st and this is your only opportunity to change plans and add or remove dependents from coverage unless you experience a Qualifying Life Event. During the 2021 Open Enrollment, active members and their spouses may enroll in or increase their coverage without a medical exam:
- Up to $200,000 for active members
- Up to $80,000 for active spouses
Stay tuned for more information during Open Enrollment!
Stay Safe & Healthy!
UFLAC Executive Board