PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y., May 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Parker Waichman LLP, a national law firm dedicated to fighting for the rights of public safety officers, applauds a new bill that was passed by the Senate on May 17, 2017. The bill, authored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Chuck Grassley and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, addresses the backlog of families of fallen officers waiting for survivor benefits. According to a press release issued by Senator Gillibrand, the bill will now be passed onto the House of Representatives. (https://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/grassley-gillibrand-bill-to-assist-families-of-fallen-officers-passes-senate)
Under the Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) program established in 1976, if an officer dies in the line of duty then his or her surviving family members are entitled to death benefits. The release notes that "While the Justice Department has a goal of processing survivor claims within one year of the time they are filed, many families must wait long periods of time for their applications to be approved."
According to the release, there were 756 active claims pending before the PSOB office at the end of March 2017. On average, these claims have been pending for 753 days. A total of 179 claims were determined between October 2016 and March 2017, but 192 new claims were received. The proposed legislation seeks to reduce the backlog by increasing the level of transparency regarding wait times. Among other things, the bill would require the Justice Department to post weekly status updates for pending claims.
Additionally, the Justice Department would rely on other federal regulatory standards. To deny a claim based on alleged negligence or misconduct, the department would have to provide clear and convincing evidence of said misconduct. The bill would also allow the Justice Department to place more weight on findings of fact from state, local, or other federal agencies. In some cases, the Justice Department would be required to adopt these facts, the release indicates.
"As a firm that supports the families of officers killed in the line of duty, we applaud this bill," said Keith Gitman, Managing Attorney at Parker Waichman LLP. "These families have already suffered the loss of a loved one, they should not be forced to wait for benefits on top of it." The firm has a proud history of supporting injured and fallen heroes, including 9/11 responders and survivors.
Parker Waichman remains committed to fighting for the rights of public safety officers, police officers, firefighters, 9/11 responders and survivors, and others injured in the line of duty. The firm offers free, no-obligation legal consultations. For more information, visit our website or call 1-800-LAW-INFO (1-800-529-4636). (http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/zadroga-act-wtc-world-trade-center-claims-lawyer-attorney-lawsuit)
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SOURCE Parker Waichman LLP