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Workers’ Compensation Board

New York State
Workers' Compensation Board
328 State Street  Schenectady, New York 12305
Subject No. 046-86

To:  Insurance Carriers and Self-Insurers Providing Benefits Under the Volunteer Firefighters' Benefit Law and the Volunteer Ambulance Workers' Benefit Law; Attorneys and Licensed Representatives Appearing Before the Board

Chapters 415 and 574, Laws of 1998, Benefit Rates Under the Volunteer Firefighter and Volunteer Ambulance Workers' Benefit Laws

Date:  March 31, 1999

Chapter 574 - Permanent Total Disability (VF and VAW)

Chapter 574 of the Laws of 1998 amends the Volunteer Firefighters' Benefit Law and the Volunteer Ambulance Workers' Benefit Law with respect to the benefits payable for permanent total disability. Effective January 1, 1999, the benefit level for permanent total disability under these laws shall be raised to $400 a week for all claimants found to be permanently totally disabled since the inception of the respective law and who are still receiving weekly benefits as of January 1, 1999. This rate shall be applied to all weekly benefits periods after January 1, 1999 regardless of the date of injury. The effect of this act is, in the interest of fairness, to raise the benefit levels for past permanently totally disabled volunteers to the present benefit level of $400 per week.

Chapter 415 - Death Benefits (VF only)

Chapter 415 of the Laws of 1998 increases the death benefits provided to the families of deceased volunteer firefighters. Effective January 1, 1999, the following benefits apply:

  • Maximum funeral expense for death in the line of duty is increased from $3,000 to $6,000. (There is still no maximum if death is as a direct result of firefighting.)
  • Lump sum payment to surviving spouses (or estates) is increased from $5,000 to $50,000. Surviving spouses of volunteer firefighters injured prior to January 1, 1999 shall be eligible for a benefit of no more than $10,000 (an increase from $1,000).
  • Certain benefits to surviving spouses and dependents and lump sum remarriage payments are increased by 100%. Please note that these increases apply to all weekly benefits and remarriage awards payable after the effective date of this act, January 1, 1999, regardless of the date of death of the volunteer firefighter.


Robert R. Snashall