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C.O.P.S. Arizona

Concerns of Police Survivors — Rebuilding Shattered Lives

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Benefits

Beneficiaries to receive the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits death payment for line-of-duty death were changed by the “Mychal Judge Police and Fire Chaplains Public Safety Officer’s Benefit Act of 2002”, enacted as Public Law No. 107-196 on June 24, 2002. Live-in situations and/or same sex partners will be eligible for the PSOB benefit if the most-recent life insurance policy lists them as beneficiary. Live-ins and same sex partners who are listed as beneficiary on the most-recent life insurance policy will receive the benefit before surviving parents of the officer. If the officer is divorced, has not remarried and has no eligible children, the former spouse could receive the benefit if she is still listed as a beneficiary on paperwork the officer failed to revise. If the officer is divorced, has not remarried but has had a live-in partner for 7 years, the former spouse could receive the benefit if they are still listed as a beneficiary on the most-recent life insurance policy. 

IT CANNOT BE STRESSED ENOUGH HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO KEEP YOUR LIFE INSURANCE BENEFICIARY INFORMATION UP-TO-DATE

C.O.P.S.  scholarships provide financial assistance to surviving children and to surviving spouses of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, according to Federal government criteria, who wish to pursue a course of study beyond high school.  Scholarships are not awarded for post-graduate study.Scholarships are not awarded to survivors who are entitled to a tuition-free education as a state death benefit.

Applicants seeking financial assistance for education purposes are limited to the receipt of not more than $1,500 per semester, and total scholarship awards shall not exceed $12,000 maximum lifetime.

C.O.P.S.  scholarships are awarded three times annually: Fall/Winter semester (begins late August or early September), Winter/Spring semester (begins late December or early January), and Summer semester (begins May or June).  A completed application is required for consideration for each semester, and the awarding of a scholarship for any one semester does not guarantee a scholarship for any future semesters.

Scholarship recipients are determined by an independent Scholarship Committee drawn from the outside community and comprised of persons knowledgeable about education and the law enforcement profession.  The National Board of C.O.P.S.  determines the amount of funding that will be set aside for educational scholarships each year.

Scholarships are paid directly to the institution of higher learning on behalf of the scholarship recipient and may be expended only for tuition, required texts, and associated fees (not room and board charges).  Any unused amount is returned to C.O.P.S.

NOTICE: C.O.P.S.  Scholarship are only available for survivors who DO NOT qualify for the Arizona tuition-free education benefit.

ARS 38-852. Taxation of benefits; exemption of contributions and securities

The employer contributions and the securities in the several funds provided for in this article shall be exempt from state, county and municipal taxes. Employee and employer contributions that are withdrawn from the system after December 31, 1974 by a public officer or employee from the accounts of the system and not received as benefits there from and benefits, annuities and pensions received by a public officer or employee from the system after December 31, 1988 shall be subject to tax pursuant to title 43.

Contact the:

Public Safety Personnel Retirement System of the State of Arizona
3010 E. Camelback Rd, Ste 200
Phoenix, Arizona 85016

Office: (602) 255-5575

Website: http://psprs.com

The Arizona State FOP pays $1,000 to the beneficiary of an FOP member. They also give the family a Bible. The FOP can be reached at (602) 881-4244.

The 100 Club of Arizona provides financial assistance to officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty in the state of Arizona, including city, county, state, federal & tribal agencies. The 100 Club provides a one-time LODD benefit of $15,000 and assistance with funeral expenses, travel and lodging for immediate family.  Additional assistance available upon a Professional Advisory Team application needs assessment.   Other benefit is up to $7,000 for officers or firefighters seriously injured in the line of duty. The 100 Club additionally acts as a support organization and a clearinghouse for helpful information.

Contact them directly or your agency's Benefits Assistance Officer for the most up to date information.

Sharon Knutson-Felix, Executive Director
100 Club of Arizona
5033 N 19th. Ave. Suite 123
Phoenix, AZ 85015

Phoenix phone: (602) 485-0100
Tucson phone: (520) 248-7626
email: info@100club.org

Individual cities and municipalities are responsible for providing retirement and pension plans for law enforcement officers. Contact your local agency’s Benefits Assistance Officer.

Health benefits vary depending upon police department benefits. Spouses of state and county officers may elect to continue to participate in the same benefit program in effect at the time of the officer's death. Contact the Benefits Coordinator at your agency.

Workers' compensation is a "no fault" system in which injured workers receive medical and compensation benefits no matter who causes the job-related accident. If an illness or injury is job-related, the injured worker (also known as a claimant or applicant) receives medical benefits and may receive temporary compensation, if eligibility requirements are met. In some cases, a claimant may also receive permanent compensation benefits and "job retraining." Workers' Compensation coverage is compulsory for employers in Arizona; however, waivers are permitted.

23-1021.01. Peace officers; fire fighters; employment status

A. A peace officer or fire fighter as defined in section 1-215 who is injured or killed while traveling directly to or from work as a peace officer shall be considered in the course and scope of employment solely for the purposes of eligibility for workers' compensation benefits, provided that the peace officer or fire fighter is not engaged in criminal activity.

B. Nothing in this section shall create any liability on the part of the peace officer's or fire fighter's employer for any civil damages occurring through the peace officer's or fire fighter's negligent or intentional conduct while traveling to or from work as a peace officer.

To receive workers' compensation benefits the surviving spouse must take the initiative and file a workers compensation claim through a workers' compensation attorney to receive any compensation. The determination as to whether the claim will be paid will be determined by the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board.

Contact the:

Industrial Commission
800 W. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Telephone (602) 542-4661

Arizona's State Compensation Fund oversees Workers' Compensation in the State.

Office: (800)231-1363
Website: http://ica.state.az.us

For specific information on pension or worker's compensation benefits, the survivor should contact the agency for whom the officer worked at the time of his death. For tuition waiver or Memorial information, the survivors should contact the Attorney General's Office as listed above. For private organizations, they should contact the organizations directly. They might also check with other fraternal or labor organization that is appropriate for further information on benefits.

A. In case of an injury causing death, the compensation therefore shall be known as a death benefit and shall be payable in the amount, for the period, and to and for the benefit of the following:

1. Burial expenses, not to exceed five thousand dollars, in addition to the compensation.

2. To the surviving spouse, if there are no children, sixty-six and two-thirds per cent of the average monthly wage of the deceased, to be paid until such spouse's death or remarriage, with two years' compensation in one sum upon remarriage. To the surviving spouse if there are surviving children, thirty-five per cent of the average monthly wage of the deceased, to be paid until such spouse's death or remarriage with two years' compensation in one sum upon remarriage, and to the surviving children, an additional thirty-one and two-thirds per cent of the average monthly wage, to be divided equally among them until the age of eighteen years, until the age of twenty-two years if the child is enrolled as a full-time student in any accredited educational institution, or if over eighteen years and incapable of self-support when the child becomes capable of self-support. When all surviving children are no longer eligible for benefits, the surviving spouse's benefits shall be paid as if there were no children. In the event of the subsequent death or remarriage of the surviving spouse, the surviving child's or children's benefits shall be computed pursuant to paragraph 3.

3. To a single surviving child, in the case of the subsequent death or remarriage of a surviving husband or wife, or if there is no surviving husband or wife, sixty-six and two-thirds per cent of the average monthly wage of the deceased, or if there is more than one surviving child, sixty-six and two-thirds per cent to be divided equally among the surviving children. Compensation to any such child shall cease upon death, upon marriage or upon reaching the age of eighteen years, except, if over eighteen years and incapable of self-support, when he becomes capable of self-support, or if over eighteen years of age and enrolled as a full-time student in any accredited educational institution, when the child reaches age twenty-two.

4. To a parent, if there is no surviving husband, wife or child under the age of eighteen years, if wholly dependent for support upon the deceased employee at the time of his death, twenty-five per cent of the average monthly wage of the deceased during dependency, with an added allowance of fifteen per cent if two dependent parents survive, and, if neither parent is wholly dependent, but one or both partly dependent, fifteen per cent divided between them share and share alike.

5. To brothers or sisters under the age of eighteen years, if there is no surviving husband or wife, dependent children under the age of eighteen years or dependent parent, the following shall govern:

(a) If one of the brothers or sisters is wholly dependent upon the deceased employee for support at the time of injury causing death, twenty-five per cent of the average monthly wage until the age of eighteen years.

(b) If more than one brother or sister is wholly dependent, thirty-five per cent of the average monthly wage at the time of injury causing death, divided among such dependents share and share alike.

(c) If none of the brothers or sisters is wholly dependent, but one or more are partly dependent, fifteen per cent divided among such dependents share and share alike.

B. If the deceased employee leaves dependents only partially dependent upon his earnings for support at the time of the injury, the monthly compensation shall be equal to such proportion of the monthly payments for the benefit of persons totally dependent as the amount contributed by the employee to such partial dependents bears to the average wage of the deceased at the time of the injury resulting in his death. The duration of compensation to partial dependents shall be fixed by the commission in accordance with the facts shown, and in accordance with the provisions of section 23-1047, but shall in no case exceed compensation for one hundred months.

C. In the event of death of a dependent before expiration of the time named in the award, the funeral expenses of such person, not to exceed eight hundred dollars, shall be paid.

The PSOB Act provides a benefit to the eligible survivors of a public safety officer whose death is the direct and proximate result of a traumatic injury sustained in the line of duty. The Act also provides the same benefit to a public safety officer who has been permanently and totally disabled as the direct result of a catastrophic personal injury sustained in the line of duty. The injury must permanently prevent the officer from performing any gainful work. (Benefit has been approved for quadriplegics and people existing in a comatose state).

The benefit is adjusted at the beginning of each fiscal year. On October 1, 2013, the benefit adjusted to $333,604.68.

EFFECTIVE DATES

Death Benefits: State and local law enforcement officers and fire fighters are covered for injuries sustained on or after September 29, 1976. Federal law enforcement officers and fire fighters are covered for injuries sustained on or after October 12, 1984. Members of public federal, state and local rescue squads and ambulance crews are covered for injuries sustained on or after October 15, 1986. Chaplains are covered effective September 11, 2001.

Disability Benefits:

Federal, state and local law enforcement officers, fire fighters and members of public rescue squads and ambulance crews are covered for injuries on or after November 29, 1990.

ELIGIBLE PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICERS

A public safety officer is a person serving a public agency in an official capacity, with or without compensation, as a law enforcement officer, fire fighter or member of a public rescue squad or ambulance crew. Law enforcement officers include but are not limited to police, corrections, probation, parole, chaplains, and judicial officers. Volunteer fire fighters and members of volunteer rescue squads and ambulance crews are covered if they are officially recognized or designated members of legally organized volunteer fire, rescue or ambulance departments.

A public safety officer's death or total and permanent disability must result from injuries sustained in the line of duty. "Line of duty" means any action that the public safety officer is authorized or obligated to perform by law, rule, regulation or condition of employment or service. If law enforcement, fire suppression, rescue or ambulance service is not a person's primary function, then, to be covered by the Act, that person must be engaged in his or her authorized law enforcement, fire suppression, rescue or ambulance duties when the fatal or disabling injury is sustained.

PUBLIC AGENCY

"Public agency" means the United States, any state of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and any territory or possession of the United States, or any unit of local government, combination of such states or units, or any department, agency, or instrumentality of any of the foregoing.

ELIGIBLE SURVIVORS

Once the U.S. Department of Justice approves a claim for death benefits, the benefit will be paid in a lump sum as follows:

  1. (1) if there is no surviving child of such officer, to the surviving spouse of such officer;

  2. (2) if there is a surviving child or children and a surviving spouse, one-half to the surviving child or children of such officer in equal shares and one-half to the surviving spouse;

  3. (3) if there is no surviving spouse, to the child or children of such officer in equal shares;

  4. (4) if there is no surviving spouse or surviving child, to the individual designated by suchofficer as beneficiary under such officer’s most recently executed life insurance policy, provided that such individual survived such officer; or*

  5. (5) if none of the above, to the parent or parents of such officer in equal shares.

* Beneficiaries to receive the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits death payment for line-of-dutydeath were changed by the “Mychal Judge Police and Fire Chaplains Public Safety Officer’sBenefit Act of 2002”, enacted as Public Law No. 107-196 on June 24, 2002. Live-in situations and/or same sex partners will be eligible for the PSOB benefit if the most-recent life insurance policy lists them as beneficiary. Live-ins and same sex partners who are listed as beneficiary on the most-recent life insurance policy will receive the benefit before surviving parents of the officer. If the officer is divorced, has not remarried and has no eligible children, the former spouse could receive the benefit if she is still listed as a beneficiary on paperwork the officer failed to revise. If the officer is divorced, has not remarried but has had a live-in partner for 7 years, the former spouse could receive the benefit if they are still listed as a beneficiary on the most-recent life insurance policy. IT CANNOT BE STRESSED ENOUGH HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO KEEP YOUR LIFE INSURANCE BENEFICIARY INFORMATION UP-TO-DATE

Public safety officers cannot name their own beneficiaries under the Act. Under the Act, "child" means any natural, illegitimate, adopted, or posthumous child or stepchild of a deceased public safety officer who is:

18 years of age or younger.

19 through 22 years of age, who has not completed four years of education beyond high school, and who is pursuing a full time course of study or training.

19 years of age or over and incapable of self support because of a physical or mental disability.

LIMITATIONS AND EXCLUSIONS

No benefit can be paid:

  1. (1)  If the death or permanent and total disability was caused by the intentional misconduct of the public safety officer or by such officer's intention to bring about his or her own death or permanent and total disability.

  2. (2)  If the public safety officer was voluntarily intoxicated at the time of death or permanent and total disability.

  3. (3)  If the public safety officer was performing his or her duties in a grossly negligent manner at the time of death or permanent and total disability.

  4. (4)  To a claimant whose actions were a substantial contributing factor to the death of the public safety officer(s).

  5. (5) To military law enforcement officers or to any of their survivors. (See Effective Dates on Page 1 to determine eligibility of fire fighters, rescue squads, ambulance crews, and their survivors.) Deaths or permanent and total disabilities resulting from stress and strain, occupational illness, or chronic, progressive or congenital disease such as heart or pulmonary disease, are not covered by the Act, unless there is a traumatic injury which is a substantial factor in the death or permanent and total disability. Medical proof of the traumatic injury, such as a blood test for carbon monoxide, may be essential for coverage in such cases.

REDUCTION OF BENEFITS

State and local benefits should not be reduced by benefits received under PSOB statute. The PSOB benefit is not reduced by any benefit that may be received at the state or local level (Rose vs. Arkansas). The benefit is reduced by certain payments made under the District of Columbia Code and may reduce benefits under Section 8191 of the Federal Employees' Compensation Act.

ATTACHMENT TAX EXEMPTION

The act ensures that the benefit will not be subject to execution or attachment by creditors. The Internal Revenue Service has ruled that the benefit is not subject to federal income tax (Revenue Ruling No. 77-235, IRB 1977-28) or to federal estate tax (Revenue Ruling No.79397).

ATTORNEY FEES

The Public Safety Officer's Benefits Act of 1976, Public Law 94430 (PSOB), authorizes the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prescribe the maximum fee that a representative may charge a claimant for services rendered in connection with any claim before the Bureau. Contracts for a stipulated fee and contingent fee arrangements are especially prohibited by the PSOB regulations, 28 C.F.R. 32.22 (b). DOJ assumes no responsibility for payment.

FILING A CLAIM

Eligible survivors or disability claimants may file claims directly with the U.S. Department of Justice, or may instead file through the public safety agency served. Normally, the public safety agency provides the information that enables the U.S. Department of Justice to determine whether the circumstances of the death or permanent and total disability entitle a claimant to a benefit payment. The public safety agency prepares a Report of Public Officer's Death or Permanent and Total Disability to accompany the survivors' or disabled public officer's claims. The U.S. Department of Justice will make the final determination on whether and to whom a benefit should be paid. To initiate the claim visit http://psob.gov or call (888) 744-6513.

Downloads

    Files: http://copsarizona.org/sites/default/files/death_rpt.pdfhttp://copsarizona.org/sites/default/files/death_claim.pdf
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