The Minnesota legislature has proposed new legislation that, if passed, will significantly impact PERA duty disability benefits for Minnesota’s first responders. 

The specific bills proposed are HF1234/SF1959. In this guide, we’ll discuss what these bills are, whom they effect, the potential repercussions they’ll have if passed, and what you can do now.

Purpose of Proposed Legislation

The stated purpose of HF1234/SF1959 is to curb the number of public safety employees seeking duty disability claims for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Its supporters include: 

  • The League of Minnesota Cities
  • Public employers and agencies
  • Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA)
  • Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association 

Who Does This Impact?

The proposed bills apply to all first responders—regardless of whether your service was in law enforcement or whether your disabling injury is physical or psychological.

They also apply to first responders who have already applied for and receive PERA disability benefits through a provision. If passed, new laws will require all recipients of PERA disability benefits to reapply for disability benefits. 

The Bottom Line

If enacted, these bills will affect first responders already receiving PERA duty disability benefits for physical and psychological injuries (e.g., PTSD) and those who were previously approved for benefits, including:

  • Police officers
  • Firefighters
  • Paramedics
  • Corrections officers

Current duty disabled firefighters, paramedics, and officers will not be grandfathered in, even if they have been receiving PERA disability benefits in their current state for many years and their injuries have been deemed permanent.

If passed, HF1234/SF1959 will also apply to current Minnesota first responders who may sustain injuries on the job in the future. Again, this includes police officers, firefighters, correctional officers, and paramedics.

Have questions about these proposed bills? Contact us today! 

Important New Requirements Following the Passing of HF1234/SF1959 

Reapplication Requirement 

If passed, this requirement will apply to new applicants and those already approved for PERA duty disability benefits.

The bill would require anyone receiving PERA duty disability benefits to reapply for benefits every year for five years and every three years after that time. 

If PERA denies your re-application, your PERA duty disability benefits will terminate. In addition, your employer may discontinue your 299A.465 continuation of health insurance coverage.

Monetary Penalties for Reemployment

There will be two new penalties for first responders receiving PERA duty disability benefits and who have returned to work in a new profession.

  1. PERA duty disability benefits will be offset a minimum of (a) 50% of reemployment earnings. Or (b) 11.8% of average salary multiplied by the difference between 20 and the member’s years of service, divided by 55 minus the member’s age at the time of disability.
  2. PERA duty disability benefits will be offset from 125% (current amount allowed) to 100% of earnings from a new job.

New Requirements for PTSD Applicants

First responders applying for PERA duty disability benefits in the future (not reapplication), based on a psychological injury, will need to complete 24-32 weeks of treatment. 

The employer would pay for this treatment. However, information still needs to be given regarding who will be eligible to provide this treatment to qualified first responders.

What You Can Do Now

We understand this is a lot of information to take in at once. If you’re already receiving PERA disability benefits, you may feel overwhelmed at the possibility of losing them or having to reapply. Though we cannot predict the outcome, we can assure you that our law firm is ready to help.  

At Meshbester & Spence, we proudly advocate for Minnesota first responders. In fact, our attorney Ashley Biermann is working diligently to limit the negative impact of the proposed legislation. 

Please note that changes are continuing to be made to this legislation. As important changes happen, we will continue to provide updates and next steps. We want to empower you to stay informed and know our team is here, regardless of the outcome.

If you have questions or would like to learn more about HF1234/SF1959, contact us today. We’re here to support you every step of the way. 

You work to keep us safe and protected. Now, let us work hard to protect your benefits! 

Understanding PERA Benefits

  • PERA Police and Fire Disability benefits are tax-free disability benefits, paid at a base rate of 60% of a disabled officer, firefighter, or paramedic’s average high-five salary. These benefits remain tax-free until the disabled police officer, firefighter, or paramedic reaches the age of 55.
  • PERA Corrections Disability benefits are tax-free disability benefits paid at a base rate of 47.5% of a disabled corrections officer’s average high-five salary. These benefits are completely untaxed until a corrections officer reaches the age of 55.