TRENTON, N.J. – A bill clarifying disability retirement eligibility for members of the State Police goes to the governor’s desk after passing the Assembly on Monday.
The bill (A5442/S3529), sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer and Assemblywoman Aura Dunn, 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 would cause 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 because of a preexisting condition.”
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.
“I’m proud to sponsor this legislation that will ensure those Troopers and support staff 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 stipulates that the triggering event must have occurred while the member was performing regular duties, and could not have been caused by the member. The permanent disability must be diagnosed by a retirement-system-approved physician. The bill outlines six general categories of disease covered: upper and lower respiratory diseases, gastroesophageal diseases, skin diseases, psychological diseases, and new onset diseases caused from exposure.