For Immediate Release: June 26, 2014
Contact: Marty Karlon, Public Information Officer, (603) 410-3500, [email protected]
CONCORD, N.H. – House Bill 1152, Chapter 0048, Laws of 2014, repealed RSA 100-A:19, which provided a supplemental benefit of $1,250 per year to a participating call, substitute, or volunteer firefighter (“call firefighter”) who was disabled in the performance of his or her duties, or the same nominal amount to the surviving spouse of a call firefighter killed in the performance of his or her duties. The repeal is effective July 1, 2014.
The statute was repealed at the request of the New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS, the retirement system), primarily due to the fact that since RSA 100-A:19 was enacted in 1967, additional, far more extensive statutory benefits for call firefighters injured or killed in the line of duty are now provided under RSA 281-A and RSA 21-I:29-a, respectively (See below). These benefits are automatic and do not require annual enrollment or annual premiums. In addition, there is a supplemental private insurance program for call firefighters available at a nominal cost. Finally, because call firefighters are not eligible for NHRS membership, there were potential Internal Revenue Service plan qualification concerns with the retirement system administering a benefit for non-members.
Prior to the repeal, departments with call firefighters applied annually to participate in the program and paid a $6 annual premium per enrollee. In Fiscal Year 2014, 1,245 call firefighters representing 59 of the 124 departments with call firefighters participated in the program. Annual participation has fluctuated between 1,100 and 1,400 over the past decade. Any call firefighter enrolled in the program is covered under this benefit through June 30, 2014.
HB 1152 provides that current benefit recipients will continue to receive payments for the rest of their lives. When there are no longer any beneficiaries, any remaining funds in the call fire account will be refunded on a pro rata basis to the departments who were participating in the program when it was closed.
Non-NHRS benefits available to call/volunteer firefighters
- Statutory death benefit: RSA 21-I:29-a provides a $100,000 lump sum death benefit for a police officer or firefighter killed in the line of duty. The definition of firefighter in this bill includes “auxiliary, intermittent, special, part-time, volunteer, call, or reserve firefighters.”
- Statutory job-related disability: Call/volunteer firefighters injured in the line of duty are eligible for workers’ compensation under RSA 281-A. According to the Workers Compensation Division of the NH Department of Labor, the current compensation is $922 per week, which is the state average weekly wage.
- Other non-statutory benefit: Group death/disability coverage is available to all members of the New Hampshire State Firemen's Association. Benefits are administered by Provident Agency, Inc. (see http://www.nhsfa.org/bene.html)
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NHRS is issuing this notice Pursuant to RSA 100-A:14, XII to inform participating employers about legislation that may have a cost impact on employers.