The high-stress nature of police work and firefighting puts our best and bravest at greater than normal risk of developing heart disease and hypertension. Connecticut lawmakers recognized the issue and in 1971 passed a special law to allow police and firefighters to obtain benefits for certain heart related conditions.
The Connecticut Heart & Hypertension Act allows police and firefighters to claim benefits that are equivalent to workers’ compensation benefits but without the burden of proving that their condition was directly caused by their work. In order to file a claim, an applicant must meet these conditions:
They must be a uniformed member of a paid municipal fire department or regular member of a paid municipal police department (constables are not covered).
They must have been hired before July 1, 1996.
They must have passed a physical at the time of hire and have displayed no signs of heart disease or hypertension at that time.
In these circumstances, police and firefighters do not need to prove that their heart disease or hypertension was caused by their work, and the applicant’s lifestyle, genetics or predisposition to develop these conditions are not relevant.
Police officers or firefighters seeking to pursue benefits under the Heart & Hypertension Act must provide written notice of their condition to their employers no later than one year after receiving a diagnosis of heart disease or hypertension. Furthermore, the claimant must be a current employee. In a 2016 court decision, an officer who had a heart attack one week after retiring saw his claim denied despite having allegedly suffered coronary artery disease while still on the job.
Police officers and firefighters have the choice of pursuing benefits under the Heart & Hypertension Act or the regular workers’ compensation law. The employer cannot force or influence the decision. The decision should be made after speaking with a qualified Connecticut workers’ comp lawyer, because the claimant will be held to their choice as they cannot begin a claim under one statute and later change to the other.
At Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, L.L.C. we have had great success helping police and firefighters obtain benefits under the Heart & Hypertension Act. We can determine whether you meet the requirements to file a claim and will guide you through the entire process so you don’t miss deadlines or make mistakes. To speak with an attorney at our Hamden or East Haven offices, please call 203-745-0942 or contact us online today.
Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, L.L.C. is located in Hamden, CT and serves clients in and around North Haven, Hamden, Waterbury, Bethany, Milford, Wallingford, Prospect, Woodbridge, Northford, Madison, Beacon Falls, Branford, Cheshire, North Branford, East Haven, Naugatuck, Meriden, Ansonia and New Haven County.
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