Proposed federal legislation would expand the Public Safety Officers' Benefit Program to ensure that public safety officers who contract COVID-19 in the line of duty are eligible for benefits should they become disabled or die from the novel coronavirus disease.

The Public Safety Officer Pandemic Response Act of 2020 was introduced in the House of Representatives Tuesday by U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), Co-Chair of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus and Fire Services Caucus; House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Rep. Max Rose (D-NY), TapInto.Net reports.

“America’s public safety officers are out on the frontlines of this pandemic keeping America up and running as best they can,” said Rep. Pascrell, who last week led 160 bipartisan members demanding a presumption of line of duty for first responders who contract COVID-19. “They are risking their lives to protect all of our communities from this virus. Our heroes deserve the peace of mind that their loved ones will be eligible for support Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program.”

The Public Safety Officer Pandemic Response Act of 2020 would:

* Establish that a diagnosis for COVID-19 will be presumed to constitute a personal injury in the line of duty for the purposes of eligibility for the Public Safety Officer Benefit (PSOB) program, unless the officer was not on duty in the relevant time period. 

* Establish the COVID-19-related disability standard be based on whether a PSOB claimant is permanently prevented from performing any gainful work as a public safety officer on account of their COVID-19 diagnosis.

* Ensure that officers who were injured or disabled in the line of duty in relation to the attacks of September 11, 2001, and whose injuries—in combination with a line of duty COVID-19 illness—rendered them disabled or caused their death will receive benefits under the PSOB program.