On October 9, 2009, Gov. Rendell signed into law Act 51 of 2009 (“Act 51”), which removed the 100 percent Killed-in-Service benefit from Act 600 and created a similar but not identical benefit under the Emergency and Law Enforcement Personnel Death Benefits Act (“Death Benefits Act”), 53 P.S. § 891 et seq. While the Death Benefits Act creates a 100 percent survivor benefit for firefighters, ambulance service or rescue squad members, and police officers who die in the line of duty, only borough and township police officers, under Act 600, previously had a Killed-in-Service benefit guaranteed by state pension law. This article is limited to the interplay between Act 600 and Act 51. While a cursory reading of the new law suggests a limited change to the existing benefit, Act 51 significantly impacts the current benefit available to surviving spouses and creates challenges for municipal employers in eliminating the now-illegal benefit from an Act 600 Pension Plan. This brief analysis reviews the Act 600 survivor benefits available prior to the passage of Act 51, the new benefit created by Act 51, and identifies the issues that must be addressed in order to transition safely to the new Act 51 benefit.

Continue Reading In Passing Act 51, the Commonwealth Assumes the Financial Burden of the Act 600 Killed-in-Service Benefit