Emergency workers honored in the wake of 9/11 may find it harder to collect benefits for on-the-job deaths and injuries under new rules proposed by the Bush administration.
Since the terrorist attacks seven years ago today, Washington lawmakers have lavished praise on “hometown heroes” such as police, firefighters and other emergency workers. New legislation promised to pay higher disability and death benefits to their families — whether police or firefighters died during terrorist attacks or other line-of-duty work.
But what’s known as the Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program has seldom lived up to those promises, critics say. And the proposed rules changes could perpetuate the problems, according to groups representing the survivors of emergency workers.
"The question we keep asking is, ‘Why now?' ” said Ron Siarnicki, executive director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in Maryland. “We don’t usually see a major rewrite of programs at the end of an administration. We are concerned this is being rushed through.”
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