New Benefits Offered to Public Safety Officers and Their Families Affected by Mental Health Challenges
FEQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. What new benefits does the Public Safety Officers Benefit Program provide?
The Public Safety Officer Support Act of 2022 expanded access to monetary disability and death benefits for public safety officers and their families affected by mental health challenges, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Acute Stress Disorder (ASD), and trauma and stress related disorders (T/SD). These benefits include:
- Disability Benefits – A one-time monetary benefit to eligible officers who were permanently or totally disabled as a result of a catastrophic injury, including attempted suicide, sustained in the line of duty.
- Death Benefits – A one-time monetary benefit to eligible survivors of officers whose deaths were the direct result of an injury, including suicide, sustained in the line of duty.
2. How do I know if my family or I am eligible for these benefits?
Applicants will need to meet certain criteria to receive the benefits available under the program. These include determining if you are a public safety officer or the beneficiary of a public safety officer and if the mental health challenges were sustained in the line of duty. In addition, all applications and supporting documents must be filed on time.
3. Who is considered a “public safety officer”?
Public safety officers include law enforcement officers, corrections officers, and firefighters. In certain circumstances, paramedics and EMTs, chaplains, disaster relief workers, some Department of Energy employees or contractors, trainee law enforcement officers, trainee firefighters, trainee rescue squad members, and ambulance crew members may be eligible for benefits.
4. Who is considered a “family member”?
Spouses of public safety officers include those who are legally married, even if the couple is physically separated. Spouses also include same-sex couples. Children of public safety officers include those who are 18 or younger, and those between 18 and 23 and who are enrolled in a high school or undergraduate education full-time. In addition, children 18 or older and who are incapable of self-support due to a physical or mental disability are included as children.
5. What injuries or deaths are considered “sustained in the line of duty”?
Injuries or deaths sustained in the line of duty include those that result as part of the officer’s authorized activities while on duty, that occur while responding to an emergency or request for assistance, or occur while commuting to or from duty.
Importantly, for the purposes of the expanded benefits, the Justice Department will presume that any diagnosed disorder(s), attempted suicide, or suicide are the direct result of a personal injury sustained in the line of duty.
6. Are there time limits on applying or when the injury or death occurred?
For expanded benefits tied to mental health challenges, officers or their families must apply before the latter of these three options:
- August 16, 2025;
- Three years from the date of exposure to the traumatic event; or
- One year from the date of the final eligibility determination.
Deaths as the result of suicide or injuries due to attempted suicide must have occurred on or after January 1, 2019, in order to qualify.
7. How do I get a diagnosis?
A licensed medical or mental health professional must do an evaluation and provide any diagnosis of PTSD, ASD, or T/SD.
8. What does the application look like?
The applications for disability and death benefits can be found at https://bja.ojp.gov/program/psob/benefits. Applicants will need to register for an online account, fill out application forms, and provide required documentation. Detailed instructions on what is required can be found at the link above.
9. What if my application is denied?
Applicants may appeal PSOB Program Office decisions within 33 days of the denial. More information on the appeals process can be found at https://bja.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh186/files/media/document/appeal_request_guide.pdf.
10. Where can I find more information?
- Program Webpage – https://bja.ojp.gov/program/psob
- Customer Resource Center – If you have questions about the PSOB Program and would like to speak with a Customer Resource Specialist, call 1-888-744-6513 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time or email AskPSOB@usdoj.gov.
- Concerns of Police Survivors and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation collaborate with the PSOB Program to provide peer support, counseling services, and assistance to survivors, agencies, and injured officers throughout the review of their PSOB applications and claims. More information is available at concernsofpolicesurvivors.org and www.firehero.org.