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Protecting America’s First Responders Act of 2021 Signed Into Law

Dec 10, 2021

[Summary provided by the U.S. Fire Administration]

Protecting America’s First Responders Act of 2021 Signed Into Law
Increases coverage and ensures prompt access to benefits

On Nov. 18, President Biden signed into law the Protecting America’s First Responders Act of 2021 (PAFRA). PAFRA ensures that first responders and law enforcement who are disabled in the line of duty have prompt access to benefits. It also protects the death and disability benefits for their families.

NOTE: NAEMT supported passage of this legislation, but regrets that the Public Safety Officer Benefit (PSOB) program currently does NOT cover EMS practitioners who work for private for-profit agencies.  NAEMT believes that ALL EMS practitioners should be covered under the provisions of the Public Safety Officer Benefit program.

Changes in PAFRA include:

  • Expanding the Public Safety Officer’s Benefit (PSOB) program to public safety officers that are not currently covered, such as officers who act outside of their jurisdiction in an emergency situation and trainee officers.
  • Defining more broadly what it means to be disabled to include first responders who can still perform work that involves simple tasks, perform work for therapeutic purposes or receive special accommodations to be able to work.
  • Closing a loophole that prevents children of first responders who are born after the first responder's death from receiving education benefits.
  • Facilitating quicker processing of benefit claims and speeding up benefit payments by indexing the award amount to the date of the final determination, rather than the date of death or injury, for cases that remain pending for more than 365 days.
  • Increasing the interim death benefits amount from $3,000 to $6,000 and tying interim benefits to the consumer price index going forward.