Focus on New Laws: Public Safety Duty Disability

July 24, 2023

A new law aimed at curbing the number of public safety employees who leave their professions as a result of mental injuries went into effect July 1, 2023.

2023 Session Law Chapter 48  (Rep. Kaohly Vang Her, DFL-St. Paul/Sen. Nick Frentz, DFL-North Mankato), represents the work of public safety stakeholders and the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) over multiple years. The legislation is consistent with the League’s legislative policy position on addressing duty disability issues and the League supported the legislation.

What’s included in the law

Key provisions in the new law will:

  • Require treatment for a mental injury before an employee can file for a related duty disability through PERA.
  • Keep injured employees on payroll while they are receiving treatment for a mental injury.
  • Provide state financial support for employers to continue pay and benefits for injured employees while they are off duty for treatment.
  • Fully reimburse employers for the cost of continued health insurance benefits for disabled employees or dependents of those killed in the line of duty if the employer has implemented mental injury prevention measures such as peer support or wellness training.
  • Require the establishment of learning objectives to be implemented into preservice and in-service training that prepares peace officers for the stressful and traumatic events that are common to their jobs and teach officers methods to process and cope with stress and trauma.
  • Adjust the vesting schedule in PERA so members would be fully vested after 10 years as opposed to the current 20.
  • Clarify the reapplication process for PERA disability recipients to require reapplication each year for the first five years and every three years after that.
  • Increase duty total and permanent disability benefits to 99% of the member’s average high-five salary.
  • Modify the current offsets against disability benefits for reemployment earnings by:
    • Capturing a portion of re-earnings to make employee contributions to PERA for employees with less than 20 years of service.
    • Reducing $1 for every $2 that the disability benefit plus reemployment earnings exceeds 100% of pay, and $1 for every $1 when the sum exceeds 125% for an active member in a comparable position.
  • Eliminate the workers’ compensation offsets against disability benefits.

The Legislature appropriated $104 million in one-time funding for the measure. Both bill authors have acknowledged ongoing funding will need to be addressed once the law is enacted.

League resources available

To help cities comply with the new law, the League offered a webinar on July 11, 2023. The webinar, which was recorded and can be accessed via the League’s online learning platform MemberLearn, explains the new law in detail and offers advice from experts. The League is planning additional webinars in the future that will focus on the mental injury prevention and treatment provisions in the law, as well as how to apply for state reimbursement for employer costs related to the legislation.

The League compiled a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the new law that provides key information about what cities need to do to comply with the law and secure reimbursements from the Department of Public Safety; the list will be updated as new questions about the law arise.

Additional resources:

Read more news articles