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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) Program

Nathan James
Analyst in Crime Policy

The Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program provides three different types of benefits to public safety officers and their survivors: a death, a disability, and an education benefit. The PSOB program is administered by the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA’s), PSOB Office.

The PSOB program provides a one-time death benefit to eligible survivors of public safety officers whose deaths are the direct and proximate result of a traumatic injury sustained in the line of duty. For deaths occurring after October 1, 2010, the one-time lump sum benefit is $318,112. The Hometown Heroes Survivor Benefits Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-182) amended current law to facilitate death benefits to the survivors of officers who die from certain line-of-duty heart attacks and strokes.

The PSOB program provides a one-time disability benefit to public safety officers who have been permanently and totally disabled by a catastrophic injury sustained in the line of duty, if the injury permanently prevents the officer from performing any gainful work. For injuries that result in permanent disability that occur on or after November 29, 2010, the benefit is $318,112.

The PSOB program also provides assistance to spouses and children of public safety officers who have been killed or disabled in the line of duty who attend a program of education at an eligible educational institution. Educational assistance is available to the spouse and children of a public safety officer after the PSOB death or disability claim has been approved and awarded. As of October 1, 2010, the maximum award for a full-time student was $936 per month.

Claimants have the opportunity to appeal denied claims. If the PSOB Office denies a claim, the claimant can request that a hearing officer review the claim. If the hearing officer denies the claim, the claimant can request that the Director of BJA review the claim. Claimants may file supporting evidence or legal arguments along with their request for a review by a hearing officer or the Director. If the claim is denied by the Director, claimants can appeal the denial in the United States Court of Federal Claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1491(a).

The PSOB death benefit is a mandatory program, and the disability and education benefits are discretionary programs. As such, Congress appropriates “such sums as are necessary” each fiscal year to fund the PSOB death benefit program while appropriating separate amounts for both the disability and education benefits programs.

Date of Report: November 18, 2010
Number of Pages: 13
Order Number: RL34413
Price: $29.95

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