Congressman Tim Ryan Votes to Improve Law Enforcement Officers’ Benefits and Access to Mental Health Resources | Congressman Tim Ryan
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Congressman Tim Ryan Votes to Improve Law Enforcement Officers’ Benefits and Access to Mental Health Resources

October 27, 2021
Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) voted today on two bipartisan bills that would improve access to disability benefits and mental health treatment for America’s first responders and law enforcement officers. 

“We have an obligation as leaders to provide our nation’s law enforcement officers with the resources they need to do their jobs, and that includes access to mental health services and benefits they have already been promised,” said Rep. Tim Ryan. “The legislation we sent to President Biden’s desk today will ensure those who have died or become permanently disabled in the line of duty are able to receive their disability benefits more efficiently and will take care of families who remain eligible for additional benefits. This legislation also strengthens available mental health counseling services, which will save lives and lead to better policing in our communities.” 

The Protecting America’s First Responders Act updates the Public Safety Officers Benefits Program’s (PSOB) definition of disability to ensure that officers who are permanently unable to secure meaningful gainful employment following a catastrophic injury in the line of duty remain eligible for benefits. Under the current program, disability or death benefits are provided in the form of a one-time lump sum payment which is adjusted yearly based on the consumer price index. The Protecting America’s First Responders Act requires the benefit award amount to be based on the date of the adjudication, rather than the date of the injury, to account for increases in the cost of living that may occur during lengthy adjudication periods.

The COPS Counseling Act provides confidentiality to federal law enforcement officers who use peer counseling services, while excepting admissions of criminal conduct or threats of serious physical harm. The bill also encourages first responder agencies to adopt peer counseling programs by requiring the DOJ to make best practices publicly available on its website and to provide a list of training programs for individuals to become peer support mentors.

With both House and Senate passage, these two bills now head to President Biden’s desk for his signature.