Police/Fire Healthcare Benefits
Minnesota police officers, firefighters, and State Troopers, are uniquely eligible for health insurance continuation benefits under Minnesota Statute §299A.465 if they are determined to be eligible for PERA or MSRS duty disability benefits.
Who is eligible?
If you are a Minnesota firefighter, police officer, or State Trooper, and are eligible for duty disability benefits, you are also eligible for continuation of health insurance coverage.
The standard for Continuation of Healthcare coverage is identical to the eligible standard for PERA duty disability benefits. A firefighter or police officer must show that he or she sustained an injury while performing inherently dangerous duties specific to the job and that his or her disablement will persist for at least twelve months.
Typically, if a police officer or firefighter is approved for PERA or MSRS duty disability benefits, his or her employer will automatically pay for the service member’s health insurance coverage.
The wrinkle is that the continuation of health insurance coverage is payable by the police officer or firefighter’s former employer and these benefits are expensive. An employer may appeal PERA’s duty disability determination on your case if they disagree with the result. This will many times happen on cases involving post-traumatic stress disorder, older injuries, or those involving significant preexisting conditions. Appeals also happen more frequently with smaller, out-state municipalities that are unfamiliar with the laws, and with entities such as Minneapolis and St. Paul that are well-versed in this type of litigation. As such, it is very important that you apply for duty disability benefit with a potential health insurance appeal in mind. If you do not, you may end up losing these benefits after a contested case hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
If you are 55 years of age and have 20 years of service credit, you are not eligible for duty disability benefits; however, you are still eligible to receive continuation of health insurance coverage.
What are the benefits available?
If you are deemed eligible for duty disability benefits, you are entitled to continued health insurance benefits from your employer through the age of 65. This means that your employer continues to pay its share of your health insurance premium throughout this time period. Your employer is required to pay family or single coverage depending on what type of coverage you were enrolled in at the time of your disablement. This coverage is potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to you and your family.
Why do I need a lawyer?
There is always a risk that your healthcare continuation benefits will be appealed by your employer. To limit this risk, consult with an attorney who has experience in trying health insurance continuation cases prior to filing your duty disability application. Appeals are expensive and time consuming. Many times, an employer will not pay for a former employee’s health insurance premiums during the pendency of their appeal, which leaves disabled first responders without health insurance coverage or paying out of pocket for expensive COBRA coverage. Osterbauer Law Firm has litigated many healthcare continuation cases and has filed hundreds of PERA applications. They will help you understand your options and provide advice on how to safeguard your duty disability application from an appeal before applying for benefits.
More questions? Please call us at (612) 334-3434 for a free, no obligation consultation.
If you have questions about a police/fire healthcare benefits, talk to the team of experienced MSRS lawyers at Osterbauer Law Firm. We can assist you at any stage. Whether you are in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis & St. Paul), Rochester, Duluth or Greater Minnesota, we will help you. Give our office a call today at 612-334-3434 or contact us online today for a free initial consultation, and we can arrange a free consultation to discuss your case.