Trenton – Legislation which would provide a cost of living adjustment to death benefit payments to the dependents of essential employees who died due to COVID-19 passed the Senate today. The bill is sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton and Senator Dawn Marie Addiego.
“During the highest peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and even n0w, we heavily depended upon our frontline essential workers to get us through the worst healthcare crisis this country has ever seen,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “Unfortunately, some of those workers were exposed to the virus and did not recover. This proposal would provide an increased death benefit payment to the families of essential workers, in recognition of their sacrifice and loss.”
“The loss of a family member is always tragedy. The loss of heroes who held us up during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and continue to hold us up, is a loss the entire New Jersey community feels,” said Senator Addiego (D-Burlington). “We must help support the families of deceased essential workers in New Jersey who had untimely deaths due to COVID-19.”
The legislation would increase the death benefit payments awarded through Workmen’s Compensation, a form of insurance employers are required to have in case of injury or death on the job. Death benefits are paid to a spouse, unless they remarry, for the rest of their lives. Other dependents, such as children under the age of 18 at the time of the death, would be covered until they are 18 years old or 23 years old, if enrolled as a full-time student. This legislation would ensure that the families of workers who died from COVID 19 while working can get cost of living adjustments each year.
The bill is intended to mirror the death benefit payments currently in place for the dependents of public safety workers, such as police officers or firefighters, killed in the line of duty.
The bill, S-2476, was released from the Senate by a vote of 38-1.