As of August 2020, the Illinois legislature passed an amendment to the Public Employee Disability Act (“PEDA”) as a result of the ongoing impact of COVID-19. Under PEDA, public employees are guaranteed financial protection of up to 365 days of full pay if injured in the line of duty. However, as a result of COVID-19, many injured first responders were left to navigate postponed surgeries and delayed medical treatment during their recoveries, which made them unable to fully recover from their injuries within the 365 day window. Accordingly, the amendment passed last year provides for an additional 60 days of PEDA benefits if there was a delay in recovery due to circumstances directly or indirectly attributable to COVID-19. Currently, the amendment only applies to delays in recovery occurring on or after March 9, 2020 and on or before December 31, 2020. However, as we have previously reported, on January 13, 2021, the legislature has passed amendments to the aforementioned laws which extend the afforded COVID-19 related benefits through June 30, 2021. Upon Governor Pritzker signing these amendments into law, they will become effective immediately.
The specific text of the amendment
(b-5) Upon the occurrence of circumstances, directly or indirectly attributable to COVID-19, occurring on or after March 9, 2020 and on or before December 31, 2020 which would hinder the physical recovery from an injury of an eligible employee within the one-year period as required under subsection (b), the eligible employee shall be entitled to an extension of no longer than 60 days by which he or she shall continue to be paid by the employing public entity on the same basis as he or she was paid before the injury. The employing public entity may require proof of the circumstances hindering an eligible employee’s physical recovery before granting the extension provided under this subsection (b-5).
As is indicated by the language of the statute, this extension will not be automatically granted. Before granting the extension, public employees may be required to provide proof of delayed physical recovery. PEDA lawyer Brent Eames has successfully assisted first responders in applying for and obtaining 60 day extensions per this statute across the state. If you believe you may qualify for the 60 day PEDA extension, you should contact PEDA Attorney Brent Eames to discuss your rights, and your options moving forward.
PEDA is an Illinois law which provides financial protection for firefighters, paramedics, and police officers who suffer the misfortune of being injured in the line of duty. The law also extends to part-time and full-time State correctional officers, Prisoner Review Board, Department of Human Services, State mental health or developmental disability facilities.
Any eligible employee who suffers any injury in the line of duty which causes him/her to be unable to perform their duties shall continue to be paid full salary with no deduction from sick leave credits, compensatory time for overtime accumulations or vacation, and service credits in a public employee pension fund during the time he/she is unable to perform their duties due to the result of the injury. These benefits last for one full year. Similarly, the injured employee is entitled to full salary, benefits pursuant to PEDA are considered disability benefits and not salary. As a result, pursuant to Internal Revenue Code, such disability payments should not be considered taxable income.
The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only and does constitute or establish an attorney-client relationship, nor constitute legal advice. If you wish to discuss any further aspect of the material contained herein, please contact attorney for first responders, Brent Eames, at Eames Law Group, Ltd.