First responders are tasked with a huge responsibility. Every day, they’re out there saving lives as they attend to victims of emergency situations. However, the job also exposes them to a wide range of occupational dangers, some of them unpredictable and potentially fatal. Additionally, the job may sometimes involve heavy lifting, bending, running, and anything extreme in between, including constant stressful situations. All these factors combined, increase their chances of sustaining on-the-job injuries, some of which could lead to temporary or permanent disabilities. As a matter of fact, the sheer number of disabilities is often as a result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Luckily, there are laws that govern the compensation of such disabilities, and any person working as a first responder needs to understand these laws as well as what the various compensation options are after a disabling injury or incidence. In other words, persons injured and disabled on the job are entitled to certain benefits. This is where disability rights activists (most of whom are personal injury attorneys) come in. Here are various avenues through which disability rights activists fight for disability benefits for first responders.
In many US states, you are entitled to state disability benefits under a specific program regulated by the state. In North Carolina, for instance, you may qualify for the Disability Income Plan of North Carolina (DIP-NC) if you participate in the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS) of NC or the Optional Retirement Program (ORP). However, Kim Engler, an experienced Raleigh disability lawyer says that from filing your claim in good timing to providing proof of disability and availing the necessary documents, the process can be overly draining for a disability victim to handle on their own. To maximize the chances of your claim getting approved, this calls for working with an experienced disability advocate. They can also help you file an appeal in case something was amiss and the claim ended up getting denied.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
You may also qualify for disability benefits under the SSFI, a US federal program that covers disabilities that could last for more than 12 months. However, it comes with a set of stringent regulatory requirements that make it difficult to qualify for disability benefits. This one specifically requires an expert disability insurance attorney on your side.
Private Disability Policies
First responders may also seek private disability insurance to protect them in the event of an injury that leaves them physically or mentally incapacitated while on the job. The insurance company basically agrees to pay part of the employee’s income lost after the disabling incidence. However, disputes are bound to occur and some insurance companies are known to be quite slippery and underwriters will try their best to pay the least amount in compensation or deny the claim whatsoever. Even when dealing with a private insurer, you will definitely need all the legal help you can get when filing your claim, it’s taking too long to get approved or when it gets declined.
Even though these are the major benefits entitled to first responders who have become injured and disabled on the job, it goes a little bit further than that. For instance, thanks to the efforts of disability activists and attorneys, the Disability Integration Act of 2019 that was introduced to the Senate by Senator Charles Schumer, individuals with disabilities no longer have to worry about being denied community-based services, among other benefits.