Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle Announces Passage of Legislation Supporting Volunteer Firefighters and Ambulance Workers

Legislation seeks to increase aid for disabled volunteer first responders who are struggling to live on fixed incomes
June 9, 2016

Albany, NY – Today, Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle announced the unanimous passage of legislation (A. 05133C) that will provide for an increase to disability benefits received by volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers.

“Every day the brave men and women who make up our state’s volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers selflessly put themselves in harm’s way in the name of serving and protecting their communities,” said Morelle. “In turn, it is our duty to ensure that these devoted individuals and their families receive the support and peace of mind they so rightly deserve. I am truly grateful to all of our volunteer first responders for their service and dedication and I thank my colleagues in the legislature for joining me in passing this important legislation.”

Currently, in New York State, volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers who are permanently disabled in the course of their service are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits of up to $400 per week, regardless of the date of their injury. However, this amount has remained fixed for the past 18 years – failing to account for inflation and increases in the cost of living.

Recognizing that inflationary forces make it increasingly difficult to subsist on a fixed income, this legislation institutes a cost-of-living adjustment for all disabled volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers. Adequately compensating the men and women, who day-in and day-out put their lives on the line to protect the safety of others, for their injuries incurred in the line of duty is the least we, as a State, can do to thank them for their service.

“This significant increase to the permanent disability benefit is a blessing to those who need it most,” said FASNY President Robert McConville. “FASNY thanks Assemblymember Morelle for his leadership on this issue, and applauds the Assembly for looking after the interests of this small, but extremely dedicated group of volunteers who have sacrificed so much for their communities.”

The bill has passed both houses of the legislature and now goes to the Governor for his signature. If enacted, this $200 increase in benefits shall apply to weekly benefit periods after January 1, 2017.