To: Insurance Carriers and Self-Insurers Providing Benefits Under the Volunteer Firefighters' Benefit Law and the Volunteer Ambulance Workers' Benefit Law
Date: September 8, 2000
Chapter 577 of the Laws of 1999 amended the Volunteer Firefighter and Volunteer Ambulance Workers' Benefit Laws to provide reimbursement to carriers and self-insurers for the benefit rate increases that occurred as part of legislative changes under Chapters 574 and 415 of the Laws of 1998.
Chapter 574 of the Laws of 1998 amended 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 was raised to $400 a week for all claimants found to be permanently totally disabled since the inception of the respective law and who were 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.
Chapter 415 of the Laws of 1998 amended the Volunteer Firefighters' Benefit Law to increase 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 was 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) was increased from $5,000 to $50,000 where both the injury and death occur on or after January 1, 1999. Where the firefighter was injured before January 1, 1999, but the date of death is on or after January 1, 1999, the spouse receives a lump sum of $10,000 (an increase from $1,000 or $5,000, depending on the date of injury).
Almost all other benefits to surviving spouses and dependents and lump sum remarriage payments were increased. (See Form VF-501, a chart of volunteer firefighter death benefit rates, attached.) 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.
Chapter 577 of the Laws of 1999 allows carriers or self-insurers to request reimbursement for the benefit increase one year from the date of the first payment and annually thereafter for accidents that occurred prior to January 1, 1999. Attached is the prescribed form (VF/VAW-10) that should be used for the reimbursement request.
If you have any questions concerning the completion of this form, contact Kathleen Griffin at (518) 486-3354.
Director of Administration