A new Connecticut law making it easier for firefighters who develop cancer to receive workers’ compensation benefits will go into effect on October 1, 2023.
Approved as part of the state budget bill, this law creates a presumption during the review process of a workers’ compensation claim that a firefighter’s cancer diagnosis is a result of his or her hazardous job unless proven otherwise. Creating this presumption will make it more difficult for these claims to be denied.
The presumption applies to any uniformed member of a paid municipal, state, or volunteer fire department, as well as local fire marshals, deputy fire marshals, fire investigators, fire inspectors, and other inspectors and investigators.
“Every time a firefighter goes into a fire, they are getting exposed to carcinogens and dangerous chemicals at a high rate,” Governor Ned Lamont said. “This new law will let firefighters and their families know that we support them and we want them to have access to the benefits they need just as they would receive for any other occupational injury or illness.”
To qualify for the compensation and benefits, firefighters must have been diagnosed with any condition of cancer affecting the brain or the skeletal, digestive, endocrine, respiratory, lymphatic, reproductive, urinary, or hematological systems. They must have had a physical examination after entering the service that failed to reveal any evidence of or a propensity for the cancer, and they must not have used cigarettes during the 15 years before the diagnosis.
Additionally, they must have been on the job for at least five years and submitted to annual medical health screenings as recommended by their medical provider.
The law generally requires that the benefits must be paid by the municipalities where the firefighter is employed and then are reimbursed to the municipality from the state’s firefighters cancer relief account.
The legislation enacting this law was approved in the Senate by a vote of 35 to 1 and in the House of Representatives by a vote of 139 to 12.
Most states have some sort of cancer presumption law, although the states vary in which first responders and cancers are covered and in other conditions that must be met.
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