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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jun 3, 2017.
(This measure has not been amended since it was passed by the Senate on May 16, 2017. The summary of that version is repeated here.)
Public Safety Officers' Benefits Improvement Act of 2017
(Sec. 2) This bill amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to revise requirements for the Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) program. (The PSOB program provides death, disability, and education benefits to public safety officers and survivors of public safety officers who are killed or injured in the line of duty.)
It authorizes the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to establish PSOB program rules, regulations, and procedures based on standards developed by another federal agency.
In determining a claimant's eligibility for death or disability benefits, the BJA must give substantial weight to evidence and facts presented by a state, local, or federal agency. If a state, local, or federal agency provides a certification of facts regarding eligibility for death or disability benefits, then BJA must adopt the factual findings, if they are supported by substantial evidence.
The BJA must also publish and update information on pending claims and submitted claims for death, disability, and educational benefits.
(Sec. 3) This section extends the age limitation for a PSOB claim for death, disability, or education benefits that is approved more than one year after the date on which it was filed.
(Sec. 4) The BJA must attempt to obtain necessary documentation to determine a claimant's eligibility for death, disability, or education benefits. If it cannot determine eligibility due to a lack of documentation from a third party (e.g., a public agency), and such information is not readily available to the claimant, then the BJA may abandon the claim only after it utilizes investigative tools, including subpoenas, to obtain the information.
(Sec. 5) The bill establishes a presumption that a public safety officer acted properly at the time of injury or death and that no specified limitation (e.g., voluntary intoxication at the time of injury or death) bars the payment of death or disability benefits. The BJA must not determine that a limitation applies, absent clear and convincing evidence.
(Sec. 6) This bill's provisions apply to a claim that is pending on or submitted on or after enactment.