Numerous death and disability benefits are available to firefighters with occupational diseases. Because there are significant funds at stake, it is imperative not to delay the preparation and submission of the required documents.
Firefighter Benefits for Workers’ Compensation in Nevada
The Nevada legislature has lowered the burden of proof for firefighters in Nevada claiming workers’ compensation benefits for occupational injuries and diseases. The state presumes that firefighters have suffered a work-related injury when they are diagnosed with:
- Heart Diseases. Heart disease is presumed to be work-related for firefighters who have worked for two years or longer. This presumption continues throughout the firefighter’s employment. However, the presumption does not apply to firefighters who used tobacco products within the year before their claim, or for firefighters who do not adhere to their physician’s treatment plan in the three months preceding the claim.
- Lung Diseases. These include cancer, COPD, Mesothelioma, and other lung diseases for firefighters who have worked for two years or longer. All firefighters should undergo lung testing at the start of their employment, and every two years while they are employed.
- Cancer. This coverage is extended to firefighters who have worked for five years or longer who are diagnosed with cancer. Known carcinogens that firefighters are exposed to include diesel exhausts, formaldehyde, chloroform, soot, benzene, and x-ray radiation. The presumption continues after the individual stops working and extends for year to year coverage matching the number of years of service, and after 20 years is for life.
Compensation for these presumptive injuries can be pursued while the firefighter is active or long after service has ended. Firefighters who qualify under these terms may be eligible to pursue compensation for temporary disability, permanent disability, vocational rehabilitation, mileage reimbursement, or death benefits.
Funeral & Death Benefits
The survivors of fallen firefighters are entitled to receive up to $10,000 in burial expenses in addition to the cost of transporting the individual’s remains.
Children of fallen firefighters are entitled to compensation to assist them with the pursuit of an education. This compensation can be used to cover registration fees, textbooks, and course materials. To qualify, individuals must enroll within an undergraduate degree program that is within the Nevada System of Higher Education. These payments can be received until the individual is 22 years old. These benefits are available only for dependent children and not to the firefighter’s surviving spouse.
Survivors are also eligible to continue participation in the firefighter’s health insurance plan. Individuals who wish to continue participation in the insurance plan are required to provide written notification to the local government agency within 1 year of the date of death. Spouses are entitled to continue participation in these plans for the remainder of their life. Children are eligible to continue their coverage until they reach the age of ineligibility specified under the plan.
Survivors of volunteer and career firefighters covered under the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Nevada are entitled to receive a monthly allowance equal to 50% of the individual’s salary on the date of their death, or 100% of their retirement allowance based on the individual’s years of service, whichever is greater.
Beneficiaries may also choose to forego the monthly allowance. In doing so, they can opt to refund the deceased’s employee contributions, plus the mandatory employer-pay contributions and any contributions made when they were not mandated to under the employer-pay contribution plan. They may also choose a monthly benefit of $450. Children of the fallen firefighter can also receive a $400 per month payment for as long as they are dependents of the surviving spouse.
Clark County & Other Benefits
Children of fallen firefighters in Clark County also qualify for the Benetti Family Memorial Scholarship. To qualify, individuals must be enrolled at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, maintain Nevada residency, and have lost their parents in the line of duty.
Many non-profit and private organizations also offer benefits. The Nevada State Firefighter’s Association offers up to $1,000 per individual, per year. The International Association of Fire Fighters also offers the “Howie” McClennan Scholarship for sons, daughters, or adopted children. This is worth $2,500 per year and is renewable for up to four years.