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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

A bipartisan group of 101 senators and representatives sent President Bush a letter that expressed their concern over the slow implementation of the Hometown Heroes Survivor Benefits Act.

In 2004, the act was passed to allow families of public safety officers who died from heart attacks or strokes within 24 hours of participating in an emergency response situation to receive public safety officer benefits (PSOB). To date, more than 250 applications have been received, and fewer than 10 claims have been approved. At least 40 claims have been denied.

Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft mandated that all PSOB claims should be processed in no more than 90 days, but the Department Of Justice (DOJ) didn_t finish writing the rules for the program until 2006. The DOJ has asked families to submit 10 years of medical records to support claims. The act mandates ˙nonroutine stressful or strenuous physicalÓ activity as a requisite for eligibility. The DOJ has cited some activities as routine for firefighters in denied claims.

The letter also says, ˙The Department of Justice appears to be giving [the families] less than its full support with its delays and denials…. The families of our nation_s first responders have waited too long.Ó

Read the letter on the Congressional Fire Service Institute Web site,„www.cfsi.org.