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Madden-Sweeney Bill Providing Workers’ Compensation Benefits To Surviving Spouses Now Law

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Fred H. Madden and Senate President Steve Sweeney that would provide workers’ compensation benefits to spouses of certain deceased fire and police personnel for the entire period of survivorship was signed into law today.

The law, S-1469, allows surviving spouses of members of the State Police or members of fire or police departments who die in the line of duty to continue receiving weekly workers’ compensation benefits for as long as the spouse lives, regardless of remarriage.

“There is no greater tragedy than when a police officer or firefighter is killed in action. These heroes sacrificed their lives to protect the community and we have a responsibility to look out for their surviving spouses and dependents,” said Madden, D-Gloucester and Camden. “This legislation is a way of offering support to their grieving loved ones and helping to relieve the financial burden they face as they move forward with their lives.”

“This law is about showing compassion for those whose spouses made the ultimate sacrifice while providing public safety in the line of duty,” said Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland. “These individuals are not only struck with the loss of a loved one, but they must now deal with a variety of expenses as well as child care and cost of living issues that have been thrust upon them. This law is the right thing to do.”

Currently, surviving spouses of fire and police personnel who died in the line of duty receive a lump sum upon any remarriage that occurs during the first 450 weeks of benefits – like the spouses of other workers killed on the job. The lump sum is equal to 100 times the amount of weekly compensation prior to remarriage. Following existing law, the payment of weekly compensation benefits ceases if the surviving spouse remarries.

Under the new law, the spouses of members of the fire or police force that die in the line of duty will no longer receive the lump sum upon remarriage, but instead continue collecting weekly workers’ compensation benefits as long as the surviving spouse lives, even after remarriage and even if the remarriage occurs after the first 450 weeks of benefits.

Provisions of the law do not apply to a surviving spouse of fire and police personnel who died in the line of duty if that surviving spouse already received a lump sum payment or remarried prior to the effective date of the legislation.

The law takes effect immediately.

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