The risks faced by broad classes of Pennsylvania employees are necessary for the safety of people in the community. The law recognizes the risks these people take and provides them with assistance if they are injured on the job.
1. What is the Heart and Lung Act?
The Heart and Lung Act is a state law that provides benefits to law enforcement officers who suffer any job-related injury. An eligible employee is entitled to 100 percent of their normal (no overtime) weekly salary including annual or contractual pay raises.
2. Who is covered by the Heart and Lung Act?
Workers covered under the Heart and Lung Act include:
- State Police
- Liquor Control Board Enforcement Officers
- Liquor Control Board Investigators
- Parole Agents
- Correction Employees with Principal Duties of Care, Custody and Control of Inmates
- Psychiatric Security Aides Employed by the Department of Public Welfare
- Psychiatric Security Aides Employed by the Department of Corrections
- Drug Enforcement Agents
- All Policemen (County, City, Borough, Town or Township)
- All Firemen (County, City, Borough, Town or Township)
- All Park Guards (County, City, Borough, Town or Township)
- Deputy Sheriffs
- Members of the Delaware River Port Authority Police
- Special Agents of the Office of Attorney General
- Enforcement officers and investigators of the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Fish and Boat Commission (signed into law October 2016)
3. Can I collect Workers’ Compensation Benefits for an injury covered by Heart and Lung?
The purpose of the Heart and Lung Act is to provide a full salary, not compensation, to employees in certain dangerous occupations who have been injured on the job and who are expected to recover and return to work in the foreseeable future. A Heart and Lung Act eligible employee may be required to file for Workers’ Compensation benefits first. These benefits will be reimbursed to the employer paying the Heart and Lung Act benefits with the exception of concurrent employment wages.
These Acts, however, are not a replacement for Workers’ Compensation benefits. If an employee’s injury is found to be “permanent” rather than temporary, that employee should not continue to receive benefits under the Heart and Lung Act but should properly receive Workers’ Compensation benefits.
4. Will my Heart and Lung payments be more than Workers’ Comp payments?
Heart and Lung benefits are 100% of base salary. Overtime earnings and earnings from second jobs are included in calculating workers’ compensation benefits, but are not included when calculating Heart and Lung benefits. As such, in some instances workers’ compensation calculations could be higher.
5. When am I eligible for Heart and Lung Benefits?
If your injury occurs while performing your official duties, you are entitled to the full salary benefits of the Heart and Lung Act. For example, if you trip and are injured while exiting the station in response to a call, you would be covered by Heart and Lung benefits. However, if you trip and are injured while leaving to go home, you would not be eligible for Heart and Lung benefits, but you still could receive workers’ compensation benefit.
6. When do Heart and Lung Benefits end?
Heart and Lung Benefits are only payable for temporary disabilities. They end whenever the injury no longer prevents you from performing your job duties. They also can be terminated if your injury becomes permanent.
7. Can my employer terminate my Heart and Lung Benefits?
If your employer is claiming that you are no longer disabled or that your injury is now permanent, you are entitled to a hearing before benefits can be terminated. The initial hearing generally is pursuant to procedures established by the municipality or governmental agency by which you are employed. You are entitled to representation at these hearings, and can appeal to the Courts if benefits are terminated after the initial hearing.
8. Who pays my medical expenses when Heart and Lung Benefits are in place?
Typically, these are paid by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier, although your employer is also considered responsible while you are on Heart and Lung Benefits.
9. Can my sick leave be counted against my time off while on Heart and Lung Benefits?
No. It is specifically stated in the Heart & Lung Act that no period of sick leave can be included in any time off covered under the Heart and Lung Act.
What should I do if I have additional questions or have a problem with my employer over Heart and Lung Benefits?
If you have been injured in the line of duty, you deserve financial compensation and medical benefits. To learn more about your rights and to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve and are entitled to, schedule a free consultation with our experienced Heart and Lung Act attorneys by calling 1-800-444-5309. We have offices in Harrisburg, Scranton and Pittsburgh and will travel to you.