TRENTON, N.J. – A bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer and Assemblywoman Aura Dunn, clarifying disability retirement eligibility for members of the State Police cleared the Assembly State and Local Government Committee on Thursday.
The bill (A1797) would allow State Police Retirement System members to qualify for accidental disability retirement benefits if a work-related traumatic event triggered a preexisting, asymptomatic condition. Currently, members cannot claim to be totally and permanently disabled, either physically or mentally, under such circumstances.
“No one expects that an asymptomatic condition could result in a permanent disability, but trauma can make that happen,” Dancer (R-Ocean) said. “Our State Police members should not be blocked from receiving the appropriate benefits needed due to physical or mental trauma suffered in the line of duty.”
Members who were denied this form of retirement in the previous 10 years can reapply, if they initially applied within five years of the event. Approved beneficiaries will receive two-thirds of their annual compensation at the time of that traumatic event. The bill stipulates that the triggering event must have occurred while the member was performing regular duties, and could not have been caused by the member.
“This legislation will ensure the troopers who need this accidental disability benefit have access to it,” Dunn (R-Morris) said. “The families of those public servants should have peace of mind that they will be provided for in the face of unexpected health challenges that force them out of work.”
The bill unanimously passed both houses of the Legislature last session, but was pocket vetoed by Gov. Phil Murphy.