A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Governor Christie Signs Law Providing Special Benefits to Spouses of Deceased Police and Fire Fighters

By on June 18, 2013 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments

In a piece of special legislation, Governor Christopher Christie signed into law Senate, No. 1469, on June 13, 2013.  The bill pertains to dependency benefits for surviving spouses of certain fire and police personnel who die in the line of duty.

Under current law in New Jersey, surviving spouses are entitled to dependency benefits of 70% of wages but such benefits end on remarriage.  In the event that remarriage occurs during the first 450 week period, the spouse is entitled to receive the remainder of the compensation which would have been due the spouse had the spouse not remarried, or 100 times the amount of weekly compensation paid immediately preceding the remarriage, whichever is the lesser.

The new law treats a surviving spouse of a deceased member of the State Police or member of a fire or police department or force differently than all other surviving spouses in New Jersey.  For example, under existing law a surviving spouse of an employee who earned $1,200 per week and died in 2013 in the course of employment would receive the maximum rate of $826 per week.  If the spouse remarried during the first 450 weeks, for example at week 300, the spouse would receive 100 times that rate or $82,600 as the final payment.  Benefits would then terminate on account of remarriage.

The new legislation exempts surviving spouses of state police, fire fighters and police officers from the so-called “remarriage penalty.”  In the example above, the surviving spouse would continue to receive $826 per week for life whether or not she or he remarried.  Dependency benefits would only end at death of the surviving spouse for spouses of state police, police and fire fighters.

The law is not retroactive for those surviving spouses who already received a lump sum payment or remarried prior to the effective date of this legislation.

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This blog article was researched and written by John H. Geaney, a member of the executive committee and equity partner at the law firm of Capehart Scatchard. The content of the this article is intended to provide general information on the topic presented, and is offered with the understanding that the author is not rendering any legal or professional services or advice. This article is not a substitute for legal advice. Should you require such services, retain competent legal counsel.

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John H. Geaney

About the Author

About the Author:

John H. Geaney, a shareholder and co-chair of Capehart Scatchard's Workers' Compensation department, began an email newsletter entitled Currents in Workers’ Compensation, ADA and FMLA in 2001 in order to keep clients and readers informed on leading developments in these three areas of law. Since that time he has written over 500 newsletter updates.

Mr. Geaney is the author of Geaney’s New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Manual for Practitioners, Adjusters & Employers. The manual is distributed by the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education (NJICLE). He also authored an ADA and FMLA manual as distributed by NJICLE. If you are interested in purchasing the manual, please contact NJICLE at 732-214-8500 or visit their website at www.njicle.com.

Mr. Geaney represents employers in the defense of workers’ compensation, ADA and FMLA matters. He is a Fellow of the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers of the American Bar Association and is certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a workers’ compensation law attorney. He is one of two firm representatives to the National Workers’ Compensation Defense Network. He has served on the Executive Committee of Capehart Scatchard for over ten (10) years.

A graduate of Holy Cross College summa cum laude, Mr. Geaney obtained his law degree from Boston College Law School. He has been named a “Super Lawyer” by his peers and Law and Politics. He serves as Vice President of the Friends of MEND, the fundraising arm of a local charitable organization devoted to promoting affordable housing.

Capehart Scatchard is a full service law firm with offices in Mt. Laurel and Trenton, New Jersey. The firm represents employers and businesses in a wide variety of areas, including workers’ compensation, civil litigation, labor, environmental, business, estates and governmental affairs.

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