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Federal program to help injured, killed police is the generation of “absurd results,” says Grassley

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is calling for a review of the Public Safety Officers Benefits Program.
(Public Safety Officers Benefits Program)

A Department of Justice program intended to financially assist the law enforcement officials who are injured or killed in the line of duty has an application process that is generating the “absurd results” – and something must be done, Sen. Chuck Grassley says.

The Iowa Republican, in a letter sent to U.S. Attorney General William Barr this week, is asking for a review of the Public Safety Officers Benefits Program after officials say that they have refused to help over the wild variety of interpretations of the program’s requirements for compensation.

“My staff spoke with [a] wounded officer who had refused, because, in an attempt to fight through his disability, he would be around his house, fixing old motorcycles and snowmobiles,” Grassley wrote. “A police officer who suffered a serious traumatic brain injury after a duty vehicle in the collision was denied disability benefits because he held several short-term part-time positions. In 2015, this injured officer working at Home Depot, Inc., Garda Great Lakes, Inc., and the City of St. Paul and earned a total of $9,551.11 for the year.”

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The PSOB, which “provides death and education benefits to survivors of fallen police officers, firefighters and other emergency responders, and disability benefits to officers catastrophically injured in the line of duty,” gives flat-rate pricing after the viewing of around 900 claims a year, previously told Fox News, with funding for the annual approved by the Congress. The flat-rate prices as high as $360,000.

But Grassley says vague language written in the program’s rules for the approval or rejection of applications getting in the way of a number of officers receiving this kind of help.

“According to the articles of association, a public safety officer is eligible for a benefit if they are permanently and completely disabled as a result of a “catastrophic injury.’ The articles of association, a further definition of “catastrophic injury” as an injury that permanently prevent[s] a person from performing paid work,” he wrote. “The ministry of justice subsequently issued regulations with a more detailed definition of ‘paid work’ as a ‘full-or part-time activity that is actually being compensated or will be compensated.’

Grassley goes on to say that the “absence of reasonable and clear guidance here, and apparently has led to absurd results.”

“In theory, for example, the simple act of washing the family dishes in the controlled, safe environment of the home could be classified as a general compensated role, because a dishwasher is a generally offset position in the restaurants,” he wrote to Barr.

Grassley concludes his letter with the question, the attorney-general to make a claim guide is to “assist in the removal of ambiguity, the adoption of uniform best practices, and ensure predictable results,” and for the Ministry of Justice, for a “thorough review of the definition and the interpretation of the PSOB requirements.”

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“If Congress had intended for any activity that may be compensated under a number of conditions that are likely to be totally irrelevant to a disabled public safety officer to disqualify that person from receiving benefits, then wouldn’t the word “commercial” in the statute,” he said.

The Ministry of Justice did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication of this article.

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