In June of this year, the NJFOP initiated talks to extend eligibility for accidental disability and accidental death benefits to certain PFRS, SPRS, and PERS members who contract COVID-19 and test positive for SARS-CoV-2. Our many thanks go out to Assemblypersons Carol Murphy, Annette Chaparro and Raj Mukherji as well as Senators Linda Greenstein and Pat Diegnan for their hard work and commitment in getting this bill to the Governor’s desk. Governor Phil Murphy signed this bill into law on Wednesday, July 1 making the effective date retroactive to March 9, 2020. This bill extends accidental disability and accidental death benefits to eligible law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical responders enrolled in the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS), Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS), and State Police Retirement System (SPRS) who contract COVID-19 during the public health emergency in this State declared by the Governor in Executive Order No. 103 and as extended by the Governor. In order to qualify for accidental disability benefits, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical responders enrolled in the systems must sustain a permanent and total disability as a result of a traumatic event occurring during and as a result of regular or assigned duties. This bill provides that a permanent and total disability will be deemed to have occurred as a direct result of a traumatic event occurring during and as a result of the performance of regular or assigned duties if:
- the member contracts COVID-19 and tests positive for SARS-CoV-2 during the public health emergency;
- the member is permanently and totally disabled as a result of COVID-19; and
- the member’s regular or assigned duties required the member to interact, and the member so interacted, with the public or to directly supervise other personnel so interacting with the public on any date during the public health emergency and within 14 calendar days prior to the appearance of symptoms consistent with COVID-19 that were confirmed in writing by a licensed health care provider on a form approved by the board of trustees and also confirmed by a positive test result for SARS-CoV-2.
A member who retired during the public health emergency may apply for a retirement allowance pursuant to this bill. New onset diseases and chronic psychological disease resulting from prior exposure to, and recovery from, COVID-19 will not be deemed a permanent and total disability resulting from COVID-19.