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Release: Minnesota House passes, Rep. Huot supports, legislation to secure peace officers and firefighters’ duty benefits

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed House File 1234, legislation to require mental health treatment of a psychological condition before a peace officer or firefighter may apply for duty disability benefits from the Minnesota State Retirement System (MSRS) or the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA).

“Minnesota has seen troubling trends around public safety duty disabilities related to post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Rep. John Huot (DFL-Rosemount), who voted to support the bill’s passage. “This bill aims to help ensure our state’s police officers and firefighters can get the help they need with the disability benefits they’re relying on.” 

The bill also requires public employers to provide wellness training or an employee assistance program to peace officers and firefighters in order to be eligible for state reimbursement of certain treatment, employee compensation, and health insurance costs. 

According to the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), the funding ratio in the PERA-Police and Fire (P&F) Plan dropped sharply in 2022, and the number of duty disabilities is a contributing factor along with volatile investment returns. At the same time, PERA reports that the number of public safety duty disability claims have climbed in recent years, from 118 applications in 2019 to 241 in 2020, 307 in 2021, and 257 in 2022. 80% of these applications are related to PTSD, and 39% are from outside Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association, Minnesota Fire Association Coalition, Association of Minnesota Counties, City of Rochester, City of St. Paul Fire Department, Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, the National Alliance on Mental Health-Minnesota chapter have all publicly voiced their support.