PSOB Office Updates Guidance on COVID-19
April 14, 2020
The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) has issued new guidance explaining how the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program plans to handle claims involving COVID-19. The new guidance updates a document that BJA published last month that described how PSOB implementing regulations treat conditions caused by infectious diseases. PSOB is a federal benefit paid to the family of a public safety officer who dies as the result of an injury sustained in the line of duty, or to a public safety officer who is totally and permanently disabled as a result of an injury sustained in the line of duty.
The updated guidance provides the following information regarding how BJA will handle PSOB applications involving COVID-19:
To establish eligibility for benefits under the PSOB Act in connection with a public safety officer’s death or disability due to COVID-19, the PSOB Act and regulations require that the evidence show that it is more likely than not that the disease resulted from the public safety officer’s exposure to the disease or the virus that causes the disease, SARS-CoV-2, while performing a line of duty activity or action. In general, BJA will find that the evidence shows a public safety officer with COVID-19 contracted it in the line of duty, when (1) the officer had engaged in line of duty action or activity under circumstances that indicate that it was medically possible that the officer was exposed to the virus, SARS-CoV-2, while so engaged; and (2) the officer did contract the disease, COVID-19, within a time-frame where it was medically possible to contract the disease from that exposure. In addition, in the absence of evidence showing a different cause of death, BJA generally will find that the evidence shows a public safety officer who died while suffering from COVID-19 died as the direct and proximate result of COVID-19.