Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for PSOB death benefits?

Who qualifies as a spouse, for PSOB benefits?

Who qualifies as a child, for PSOB benefits?

Who qualifies as a public safety officer?

What is considered a public agency?

What is a line of duty injury?

How do I file an application for PSOB death, disability, or education benefits?

Where can I find the law and regulations governing the PSOB Program?

Do I have a specific timeframe in which I need to apply for a PSOB death, disability, or education benefit?

What documents are required in order to submit an application for death benefits?

What documents are required in order to submit an application for disability benefits?

What are pre-requisite certifications?

How can I submit changes/updates to my existing application?

Do I need a lawyer to file a claim for PSOB benefits?

What if the agency head will not sign the application form or respond to my request for assistance with an application for PSOB benefits?

What are the different levels that my claim will go through?

How long does each level of review take?

My minor child was awarded PSOB benefits.  As the minor child's legal guardian, do I have to put the child's benefits into a trust?

How do I file an appeal?

How do I Submit a Filing Extension Request?

 

Who is eligible for PSOB death benefits?         

Families of public safety officers who have sustained a fatal line of duty injury are eligible to receive a one-time death benefit, based upon a hierarchy of payment.  Please refer to the table below for information about the claim beneficiary payment hierarchy.

 

Claim Beneficiary Payment Hierarchy:

 

Condition

Death Benefit Disbursement

If the public safety officer has a surviving spouse and no eligible children                                     

100% to surviving spouse

 

If the public safety officer has a surviving spouse and age-eligible (non-adult) children

50% to surviving spouse; and 50% divided evenly among eligible children

If the public safety officer has no surviving spouse, but has children 

100% divided evenly among eligible children

If the public safety officer has no spouse and no children

100% to the PSOB benefits designee on file with the public safety officer’s employing agency

If the public safety officer has no spouse, no children, and no PSOB benefits designee

100% to life insurance designee on file with the public safety officer’s employing agency

If the public safety officer has no spouse, no children, no PSOB benefits designee or life insurance designee

100% divided evenly among the public safety officer’s parents

If the public safety officer has no spouse, no children, no PSOB benefits designee, no life insurance designee, or no surviving parents

100% divided evenly among the public safety officer’s adult children

 

Who qualifies as a spouse, for PSOB benefits?  

PSOB regulations define a spouse as an individual entered into marriage lawfully under the law of the jurisdiction in which it was a lawful husband or wife.   In limited circumstances, a person may qualify as a surviving spouse even if no valid marriage occurred.  Under these limited circumstances, the PSOB Office follows the law of the state in which the spouse claims qualification. 

Who qualifies as a child, for PSOB benefits?  

The PSOB Office recognizes biological children, adopted children, stepchildren, and any individual with whom the public safety officer had a parent-child relationship with at the time of the officer's injury.

 

To qualify as an age-eligible child, the child must meet the following criteria, at the time of the public safety officer’s injury, the child was:

  1. 18 years of age or under; or
  2. Between 19-22 years old and attending school full-time; or
  3. Incapable of self-support because of a physical or mental disability

Who qualifies as a public safety officer?         

Qualifying public safety officers include:

 

To qualify as a public safety officer, the officer must generally have been serving a public agency in an official capacity, at the time of injury.

What is considered a public agency?    

A public agency, for purposes of PSOB benefits include the following:

Any instrumentality of the foregoing

What is a line of duty injury?        

Line of duty injuries include any personal injury that may have been suffered as a result of  the following circumstances:

 

PSOB regulations do not allow for payment of injuries relating to any occupational disease or any condition of the body caused or occasioned by stress or strain, such as PTSD.  The regulation may be found at 28 C.F.R. § 32.3.

How do I file an application for PSOB death, disability, or education benefits?         

The PSOB website provides information about the PSOB program and instructions for filing an application for PSOB death, disability, and education benefits.  Refer to the PSOB Information Kit for vital information about the claim process.

Where can I find the law and regulations governing the PSOB Program?     

The Public Safety Officers' Benefits Act of 1976, Public Law 94-430 is codified at 42 U.S.C. Chapter 46, Subchapter XII.  Its implementing regulations are found at 28 C.F.R. pt. 32.  You can find a clickable copy of the law and regulations here.

Do I have a specific timeframe in which I need to apply for a PSOB death, disability, or education benefit?  

For Death Benefits:

You may apply for PSOB death benefits at any time after the death of a public safety officer.  Before you submit your application, please ensure that you have thoroughly reviewed the information found on the PSOB website and PSOB Information Kit.  The PSOB Information Kit contains valuable information about the necessary documents that you need to file with your application.

 

A complete application for death benefits must be received by the PSOB Office, no later than the following:

 

 

For Disability Benefits:

A public safety officer may apply for PSOB disability benefits after he or she is medically retired from service and is permanently and totally disabled as the direct and proximate result of a personal injury sustained in the line of duty.

 

A complete application for disability benefits must be received by the PSOB Office, no later than the following:

 

 

For Education Benefits:

You may apply for PSOB education benefits after receiving an approved determination for a PSOB death or disability benefit.  PSOB regulations limit payments to forty-five months of full-time education or training or a proportional period of time for a part-time program.  PSOB regulations also limit payment for education completed by an eligible child up to the child’s 27th birthday.

What documents are required in order to submit an application for death benefits?  

Required documents for filing an application for PSOB death benefits include the following:

  1. PSOB Claim for Death Benefits form, completed and signed by the survivor/claimant.  For faster processing of your application, it is highly recommended that you complete this form online through the PSOB website.  The online form can be found at https://www.psob.gov/file_death_claim.html.  If you are unable to complete the form online, you may send a completed and signed form to the PSOB Office by email or mail.
  2. PSOB Report of Public Safety Officer's Death form, completed and signed by the head of the public safety agency or his or her designee.  For faster processing of your application, it is highly recommended that you complete this form online through the PSOB website.  The online form can be found at https://www.psob.gov/file_death_claim.html.  If you are unable to complete the form online, you may send a completed and signed form to the PSOB Office by email or mail.
  3. The public safety officer's death certificate.
  4. The public safety officer's marriage certificate, if applicable.
  5. Birth certificates for each and every one of the public safety officer's children.  (Children include biological children, adopted children, stepchildren, and any individual with whom the public safety officer was in a parent-child relationship with).
  6. Divorce decrees (including references to the custody of any children) for each and every one of the public safety officer's previous marriages, if applicable.  If any of the public safety officer's previous marriages ended in death, please provide the death certificate.
  7. Divorce decrees (including references to the custody of any children) for each and every one of the surviving spouse's previous marriages, if applicable.  If any of the surviving spouse's previous marriages ended in death, please provide the death certificate.
  8. A Statement of Circumstances, provided by the public safety officer's employing agency, describing in detail the circumstances of the public safety officer's death, from the time the incident began to the pronouncement of the public safety officer's death.
  9. The Investigation, Incident, and/or Accident Reports relating to the public safety officer's injury, leading to death.
  10. The toxicology report.  If no toxicology was performed, please provide a signed statement from the head of the public safety agency, his or her designee, or medical examiner’s office, indicating that a toxicology was not performed.
  11. A copy of any and all final determinations for other benefits applied for, relating to the public safety officer's death (Examples include workers' compensation and state line of duty benefits).
  12. Any other documents deemed necessary by the PSOB Office.

 

For Heart Attacks, Strokes, or Vascular Ruptures:

If the cause of death is a heart attack, stroke, or vascular rupture:

  1. A detailed account, from the employing public safety agency, of each and every one of the public safety officer's on-duty activities in the 24 hours prior to the onset of the public safety officer's heart attack, stroke, or vascular rupture.
  2. A copy of all investigation, incident, and/or accident reports for each and every on-duty activity in which the public safety officer was involved in, within a 24 hours period prior to the onset of the public safety officer's heart attack, stroke, or vascular rupture.

 

What documents are required in order to submit an application for disability benefits?  

Required documents for filing an application for PSOB disability benefits include the following:

  1. PSOB Report of Public Safety Officer's Permanent and Total Disability form, completed and signed by the head of the public safety agency or his or her designee.  For faster processing of your application, it is highly recommended that you complete this form online through the PSOB website.  The online form can be found at https://www.psob.gov.  If you are unable to complete the form online, you may send a completed and signed form to the PSOB Office by email or mail.
  2. A statement signed by the disabled officer or representative regarding the educational level of the officer, vocational or functional capacity assessments, and whether the officer has worked at any job since the disabling injury.
  3. The Investigation, Incident, and/or Accident Reports relating to the public safety officer's injury.
  4. A Circumstances of Injuries, provided by the public safety officer's employing agency, that includes the public safety officer's name and title, detailed information about when and where the incidents occurred, what initiated the incident, and the nature of the injuries.
  5. A statement by the public safety agency stating that the disabled officer has received the maximum allowable disability compensation for public safety officers in the agency.
  6. The toxicology report.  If no toxicology was performed, please provide a signed statement from the head of the public safety agency, his or her designee, or medical examiner’s office, indicating that a toxicology was not performed.
  7. Medical documentation including admission, discharge and treatment summaries, as well as a final diagnosis.
  8. Tax returns for every federal tax return filed by or on behalf of the public safety officer from the year before the injury to the current year.  If a joint tax return was filed, please include every W2 and 1099 of all filers on the return.
  9. Any other documents deemed necessary by the PSOB Office.

What are pre-requisite certifications?  

PSOB regulations require every application to include certain documentation before a claim for benefits is approved.

 

For Death Benefits:

  1. A written statement from the claimant to the PSOB Office stating:

a.  That the writer has knowledge of the facts being stated and has the legal authority to make such statement;

b.  That the writer knowingly makes such statement under the penalties of perjury;

c.  The names of every individual, known to him or her, who might be the officer's child, spouse, or parent;

  1. A written statement from each of the public safety officer's employing agency to the PSOB Office stating:

a.  The writer has knowledge of the facts being stated and has the legal authority to make such statement;

b.  The writer knowingly makes such statement under the penalties of perjury;

c. The public safety officer died as a direct and proximate result of a line of duty injury; and

d. One of the following:

(1) That each and every survivor of the public safety officer is legally entitled to receive or have received the maximum death benefits legally payable by the agency with respect to deaths of public safety officers of his kind, rank, and tenure; or

(2) That the agency is not legally authorized to pay benefits with respect to deaths of public safety officers of his kind, rank, and tenure to any person or that the agency is not legally authorized to pay benefits to public safety officers of the his kind, rank, and tenure

  1. A copy of any and all findings or rulings made by other public agencies that relate to the public safety officer's death.

Pursuant to the PSOB regulations at 28 C.F.R. §32.15, no claim shall be approved unless the PSOB Office receives all pre-requisite certifications, or unless the claimant obtains a waiver from the Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

For Disability Benefits:

  1. A written statement from each of the public safety officer's employing agency to the PSOB Office stating:
  1.  The writer has knowledge of the facts being stated and has the legal authority to make such statement;
  2.  The writer knowingly makes such statement under the penalties of perjury;
  3.  The public safety officer is permanently and totally disabled as a direct and proximate result of a line of duty injury; and
  4.  One of the following:

(1) That the Public Safety Officer is legally entitled to receive or have received the maximum disability benefits legally payable by the agency with respect to disabled public safety officers of his kind, rank, and tenure; or

(2) That the Agency is not legally authorized to pay benefits with respect to disabled Public Safety Officers of his kind, rank, and tenure to any person; or that the agency is not legally authorized to pay benefits to public safety officers of the his kind, rank, and tenure

  1. A copy of any and all findings or rulings made by other public agencies that relate to the public safety officer's claimed disability;
  2. A copy of each State, local, and federal income tax return filed by or on behalf of the public safety officer from the year before the injury date to the date of determination.

 

Pursuant to the PSOB regulations at 28 C.F.R. §32.25, no claim shall be approved unless the PSOB Office receives all pre-requisite certifications, or unless the claimant obtains a waiver from the Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

How can I submit changes/updates to my existing application?  

It depends on the type of changes you are making.  You may contact the PSOB Office at 1-888-744-6513 and a Customer Resource Specialist will guide you through the process based upon your circumstances.

Do I need a lawyer to file a claim for PSOB benefits?  

Most people who file a claim for PSOB benefits do not have a lawyer.  Please note that PSOB Office staff can provide certain information to claimants, agencies, or representatives, however, they cannot provide legal advice on claims.  If you need legal advice, you may wish to consult a lawyer. 

If you choose to hire a lawyer, please be noted that no lawyer may collect compensation from you until they first obtain authorization from the Department of Justice.

What if the agency head will not sign the application form or respond to my request for assistance with an application for PSOB benefits?     

If the employing public safety agency is not responding to your request for information, you may contact the PSOB Office at 1-888-744-6513 for assistance.  The PSOB Customer Resource Center is open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

What are the different levels that my claim will go through?

When your application for PSOB death or disability benefits is received by the PSOB Office, it will be reviewed by a staff member to ensure that all minimum required documentation were submitted with the application.  If your application is missing any minimum required documentation, your application will be returned to you.

 

If your application includes all minimum required documentation, your application will be assigned a claim number.  The claim number is a unique number that the PSOB Office uses to identify your claim.  Be sure to keep your claim number available whenever you contact the PSOB Office about your claim for benefits.

 

Your application for PSOB benefits will be assigned to a PSOB Benefits Specialist who will assess your claim.  Sometimes, the Benefits Specialist will need additional information or documentation.  It is your responsibility to respond to all inquiries and requests for documentation in a timely manner, to avoid delay in the processing of your claim.

 

At times, the PSOB Office may determine, due to the complex medical nature of your claim, that an independent medical review is needed.  Under these circumstances, the PSOB Office will request a review of all medical files.  If additional medical records are needed, it is your responsibility to respond to all requests in a timely manner, to avoid delay in the processing of your claim.  The Department of Justice is responsible for all fees incurred during this review.

 

Finally, before a determination can be issued, it must be reviewed by the PSOB Legal staff for legal sufficiency.  The PSOB Office is committed to providing excellent service and will work to process your claim efficiently.

How long does each level of review take?         

The PSOB Office works very hard to ensure that your claim is reviewed in a timely fashion.  If your claim is missing documentation or involves complicated issues, it may delay the processing of your claim.  To avoid any delays in the processing of your claim, provide all minimum required documentation and any other requested information or documentation.  It is your responsibility to track your claim to ensure that all needed information has been submitted.  To check the status of your claim, you may contact the PSOB Office.

My minor child was awarded PSOB benefits.  As the minor child's legal guardian, do I have to put the child's benefits into a trust?  

Some states may require that any money, including PSOB benefits paid to a minor child, be placed in a trust.  Follow your state's law and regulations in addition to any court orders.

How do I file an appeal?      

If you are denied PSOB benefits by the PSOB Office, you have 33 days to file an appeal with the PSOB Office to have your claim reviewed by an independent Hearing Officer.  A Hearing Officer will be assigned to your claim and will review your entire claim de novo, meaning “from the beginning.” You may choose to have a hearing, where you have an opportunity to present evidence and witnesses or you may choose to have the Hearing Officer conduct a records review of your claim.  If you choose to have a hearing, you must notify the PSOB Office of your decision no later than 90 days from the date of the PSOB determination.

If you are denied PSOB benefits by a Hearing Officer, you have 33 days to file an appeal with the PSOB Office to have your claim reviewed by the Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).  The BJA Director will review your entire claim de novo, meaning “from the beginning” and issue a determination.

How do I Submit a Filing Extension Request?  

For Death Benefits:

 

The Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) regulations provide that a claim must be filed within three years after the date of the individual’s death or one year after the receipt or denial of any benefits payable by the officer’s agency, unless the time for filing is extended by the Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) for good cause shown. 28 C.F.R. § 32.12(a).

In order for the BJA Director to determine whether there are sufficient grounds to waive the filing timeframe for a claim, please provide a statement addressed to the “BJA Director” explaining why you did not file your claim within the required time period. 

After drafting the statement, send your filing extension request, along with any supporting evidence to AskPSOB@usdoj.gov.

 

For Disability Benefits:

 

The Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) regulations provide that a claim must be filed within three years from the injury date or one year after the Public Safety Officer has either received or been denied the maximum disability benefits legally payable by the individual’s public agency. The time for filing may be extended by the Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) for good cause shown. See 28 C.F.R. § 32.22(a).

In order for the BJA Director to determine whether there are sufficient grounds to waive the filing requirement for your claim, please provide a statement addressed to the BJA Director explaining why you did not file your claim within the required time period, and noting the dates requested below.

Date of Injury

Date of Medical Retirement

Date of Approval or Denial of Disability Retirement Benefits

After drafting the statement, send your filing extension request, along with any supporting evidence to AskPSOB@usdoj.gov.

 

For Appeal Requests:

 

The timeframe to submit an Appeal Request is 33 days from the date stamped on your notification letter. If your Appeal Request is being submitted past the timeframe, you must include a statement justifying your late submission to the PSOB Office in order for the BJA Director to determine whether there are sufficient grounds to waive the filing requirement for your claim. Your statement must establish good cause for a filing extension to be granted. See 28 C.F.R. § 32.42 and 28 C.F.R. § 32.52.

After drafting the statement, send your filing extension request, along with any supporting evidence to AskPSOB@usdoj.gov.

 

 

After submitting your statement:

 

After your statement is submitted, it will be reviewed and you will be contacted regarding your request. For questions regarding this statement, please do not hesitate to contact PSOB at 1-888-744-6513 or by submitting a message to the PSOB Office using Messages in MyPSOB.