What COs should know about the Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program
This federal program provides death and educational benefits to individuals involved in crime and juvenile delinquency control or reduction
Corrections officers across the country are constantly fighting to be acknowledged as valuable members of the public safety community. Their contributions and sacrifices go largely unnoticed to many – as they serve behind the walls and fences within facilities across the nation – while the job grows increasingly dangerous.
Fortunately, there is a federal program in place that acknowledges the service and sacrifice of corrections officers, and aiming to assist the families left behind for those officers killed in the line of duty.
The Public Safety Officers Benefits’ Program (PSOB) is a federal program through the Department of Justice that provides death and educational benefits to individuals involved in crime and juvenile delinquency control or reduction, or enforcement of the criminal laws. These jobs include, but are not limited to, police, corrections, probation, parole and judicial officers.
The program also offers disability benefits to officers “catastrophically” injured in the line of duty. Each year, the PSOB reviews the claims of nearly 900 fallen or catastrophically disabled officers and their families.
Those officers whose deaths or qualified disabilities occur as a result of their service are eligible for $350,079 in benefits. The amount of educational assistance benefits for one month of full-time attendance is $1,041 for qualified family.
Qualified officers are not automatically eligible for benefits, and they must have enrolled in the program for benefit eligibility. The intentions of the program are clear – to give back to those individuals who have served. Perhaps the best part of the program – other than the benefits offered to officers and their families – is that it is free. But again, officers must enroll to be eligible.
Unfortunately most officers working in corrections or law enforcement are unaware of the PSOB and the benefits it offers. You could say the program is the best-kept secret in public safety. Therefore, it is imperative that corrections departments, training facilities and personnel staff become familiar with this program so they can educate their officers and give them the opportunity to enroll.
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, nearly a dozen correctional officers have died in the line of duty since 2016. These officers have left behind family members who could benefit from the PSOB program. There is no doubt that others have been catastrophically injured as a result of their service and cannot return to their jobs.
Perhaps the most unfortunate thing is that many of these officers may not have been aware the benefits that exist to help them and their families through these challenging times.
Individuals who want to enroll or have questions about the program are encouraged to call 888/744-6513 or email the department of Justice at AskPSOB@usdoj.gov. Additional information is also available on the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program homepage.