SS/SCS/HCS/HB 664 - This act modifies certain provisions of the Firemen's Retirement System of St. Louis and provisions that affect claims by all firefighters for disability or death benefits.
This act modifies provisions that affect claims by firefighters for disability or death benefits. If after five years of service a firefighter's health is impaired due to certain infectious diseases, it will be presumed that this infectious disease was suffered in the line of duty, unless there is evidence to the contrary. Firefighters are required to submit to an annual physical examination, at which a blood test is administered, in order to receive the presumption that the infectious disease was contracted in the line of duty.
The act specifies that the retirement plan of the Firemen's Retirement System of St. Louis is intended to be a qualified governmental plan under federal tax law. The benefits and conditions of the plan shall be interpreted and the system shall be operated to ensure that the system meets the federal qualification requirements.
This act also modifies the service-connected disability benefits for St. Louis City firefighters who retire on or after August 28, 2011. Currently, the service-connected disability benefit is 75 percent of the top pay of the rank the firefighter is at when they are retired. This act makes the service-connected disability benefit vary based on the number of years a person has served as a firefighter. Firefighters will receive a base pension of 25 percent of the compensation provided for the step in the range of salary they hold at the time the firefighter is retired. Those firefighters with 10 or more years of service, but less than 25 years of service, will receive an additional accidental retirement pension benefit calculated by multiplying their years of service by 2 3/4 percent of the step in the range of salary received by the firefighter at the time of their retirement. Those firefighters with more than 20 years of service, but less than 25 years of service have the option to waive the other benefits and receive a benefit that combined with their base pension will equal 65 percent of the compensation then provided for the step in the range of salary received by the firefighter at the time of their retirement. If a firefighter has more than 25 years of service, or is retired based on conditions of the heart, lungs, or cancer, or is unable to perform any other work, as determined by Board of Trustees based on medical evidence, the firefighter will receive a benefit that is equal to 75 percent of the compensation provided for the step in the range of salary they receive at the time of their retirement.
St. Louis City firefighters who are retired based on a service-connected disability on or after August 28, 2011, will have the option at retirement to be reimbursed for tuition at a college, community college, or vocational or technical school. These firefighters must enroll in school at the first opportunity after their retirement. These firefighters will also receive a supplemental disability retirement pension, if they have twenty-five years or less of service, so that their total accidental disability retirement pension will equal to the total compensation provided for the step in the range of salary they received at the time they were retired. This educational reimbursement benefit and the supplemental disability retirement pension benefit shall end when the firefighter is not a full-time student, if the firefighter fails to provide proof of a grade point average of two on a four point scale for each academic term, or returns to service as a firefighter, and will only be available for five years after the firefighter's retirement.
The cost-of-living adjustment for firefighters who are retired based on a service-connected disability on or after August 28, 2011 will be either one percent a year or 2 1/4 percent per year, based on the number of years of service, rather than three percent a year, up to age sixty.
Provisions of this act are identical to some provisions of SS/SCS/HB 282 (2011), and provisions of SS/SB 238 (2011) and similar to SB 273 (2011).