SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A unanimous vote approved a bill covering Chicago first responders severely sickened by COVID in the days before vaccines were available.
The Illinois State Senate’s Special Committee on Pensions passes Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s Act-of-Duty bill with a vote of 9-0 on Thursday.
Comptroller Mendoza’s own brother was Chicago Police Detective Joaquin Mendoza. He was the first case to go before the city’s police disability board, which appears to have adopted a policy of not giving disability pensions to officers who were disabled by COVID, a new release from the Illinois Comptroller’s office said.
“I watched in disbelief as the board’s majority inexplicably ruled against their own doctor’s findings and gave my brother only an Ordinary Disability benefit instead of a Duty Disability benefit, which means he’d only get 50% of his salary for five years and no health care insurance,” Comptroller Mendoza said.
Det. Sgt. Mendoza was permanently disabled by COVID, having lost his kidneys and had five strokes, the board’s doctor found.
The release also stated the Chicago Police Department’s officers who were killed by COVID in the days before vaccines were available are considered to have died in an “Act of Duty”. Therefore, the families were reportedly getting the full benefits.
HB3162 would fix the state law in Illinois to include that same “rebuttable presumption” of the illness being contracted by first responders in an act of duty for officers who lived through COVID as those who died, the release said.
“Frankly, cops shouldn’t have to die to be eligible for their benefits,” Comptroller Mendoza said. “And they shouldn’t have to spend thousands of dollars they don’t have, fighting the Pension Fund or court of appeals when their cases are legitimate.”
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April 27, 2023 at 05:12PM