HARRISBURG, Oct. 29 — State Rep. Brendan F. Boyle, D-Phila./Montgomery, announced that Gov. Rendell has signed into law a survivor benefits increase in Pennsylvania for the families of police and emergency service personnel who die in the line of duty.
Under the new law, Act 51 of 2009 – which Boyle proposed as H.B. 1938 in July — the surviving spouse of a paid police officer, firefighter, ambulance service or rescue squad member who dies in the line of duty will receive a monthly benefit. The benefit will be equal to the first responder’s monthly salary at the time of death, and will increase annually based on the Consumer Price Index. If there is no surviving spouse, the benefits would go to any surviving children.
"By passing this new law, we’re trying to make sure the families of fallen officers and emergency personnel know that Pennsylvania is grateful for their loved one’s sacrifice and that we honor their family’s loss," Boyle said. "By making sure survivor benefits are adequate, we can at least make sure families can survive financially while dealing with their incredible loss."
Before Boyle’s proposal became law, the families of police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel killed in the line of duty were entitled to survivor benefits that amount to just a portion of their full salary. Boyle said the benefits increase he proposed was designed to allow families of fallen first responders to maintain the same standard of living and quality of life they experienced before their loved one died in the line of duty.
Boyle introduced H.B. 1938 in July and it was approved by the House Finance Committee on Aug. 19. On Oct. 8, the House passed S.B. 369 – the Senate version of Boyle’s bill – and sent it to be signed into law.