Springfield, IL – A bipartisan proposal led by state Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea), and Comptroller Susana Mendoza to ensure first responders severely disabled by COVID in the early days of the pandemic receive proper Act of Duty benefits was signed into law May 9 by Gov. JB Pritzker.
“In some of the darkest hours during the onset of the pandemic – with limited options for protection – our first responders put on their uniform, showed up to work and continued to serve residents who needed help,” Hoffman said. “Tragically, this meant that many of them faced serious infections that in some circumstances became debilitating. Every single one of these heroes deserves to receive the full, proper benefits they are owed.”
Hoffman and Mendoza’s House Bill 3162 extends benefit rights to Chicago first responders that have otherwise been available to police and fire fighters statewide. In the early days of the pandemic, first responders were required to put their personal health on the line to continue serving their community. With no vaccine, many Chicago first responders faced severe COVID-19 infections that in some cases led to disability or death.
Those who were killed by COVID-19 before vaccines were available are considered to have died in an “Act of Duty” under state law so that their families receive full benefits. But the Chicago police pension board has denied Act of Duty benefits to officers who have lived through the disease but were left severely disabled. Hoffman and Mendoza’s measure reverses this action and ensures full benefits are properly delivered to those who have been unfairly left behind.
“The least we can do is ensure these impacted individuals and their families receive the benefits they deserve,” Hoffman said. “I’m appreciative of the continued advocacy from Comptroller Mendoza, first responders and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who understood the importance of getting this done.”
The measure, House Bill 3162, passed the General Assembly without opposition.