§ 6701 Definitions.
As used in this chapter, the following words and terms have the following meanings:
(1) “Covered firefighters” shall mean enrolled firefighters, ladies auxiliary members, and volunteer ambulance and rescue company members in good standing either according to the rules of their Delaware volunteer fire company or association or through their assignment to a municipal fire company. The use of the masculine gender throughout this chapter in referring to “covered firemen” shall also include the feminine gender where applicable.
(2) “Line of duty,” with respect to enrolled firefighters, ladies auxiliary members and volunteer ambulance and rescue company members as defined in paragraph (1) of this section, shall mean while traveling to, performing their assigned duties or returning from, a fire alarm, rescue operation or any other emergency volunteer fire company action; provided, however, that the phrases “traveling to” and “returning from” shall include the time encompassed by the firefighter’s, ladies auxiliary members’ or volunteer ambulance and rescue company members’ entrance into their personal vehicle or company emergency vehicle in response to the alarm or emergency call until their first disembarkation from their personal vehicle at their home, place of employment or other location.
(3) “Permanent disability” shall mean a permanent physical condition arising out of and in the course of actions in the line of duty, but shall not include permanent disability from an injury or disease, which, although aggravated in the line of duty, was not originally sustained in the line of duty; provided, however, that said permanent disability must be sufficient to disable the covered firefighter so that the firefighter is unable to do the work normally required for the job or employment which he or she held at the time he or she was disabled.
§ 6702 Payment of benefits.
Upon certification by the Commissioner that a claim under this chapter has been approved, the State Treasurer shall pay to a covered firefighter who has been permanently disabled in the line of duty, a benefit of $500 per month, plus $50 per month for each child under the age of 18 years, for so long as such shall remain.
§ 6703 Physical examinations.
No firefighter shall receive disability benefits under this chapter until he or she has been examined by a duly qualified physician or surgeon, selected by the firefighter or, if not selected by the firefighter, selected by the Commissioner for that purpose. If the firefighter is found to be permanently disabled, he or she shall be entitled to present a claim to the Commissioner. The examining doctor shall prepare a written report which shall be submitted to the Commissioner and shall be part of the records. Any firefighter receiving benefits under this chapter shall be examined periodically by a duly qualified physician or surgeon as required by the Commissioner to determine if such disability has ceased to exist.
§ 6704 Adjudication of claims.
(a) The Commissioner shall receive claims for disability benefits under this chapter. The Commissioner shall determine the validity of all such claims and determine whether a disability resulting in any such claim was in the line of duty under the terms set forth in § 6701 of this title. In making such determinations, the Commissioner may seek the guidance of the Attorney General. The Commissioner shall hold a hearing on every claim, at which hearing the claimant may be represented by counsel. The Commissioner shall, at the hearing, receive evidence, make findings and render a decision. The Commissioner shall have the power to subpoena witnesses and records and administer oaths and shall keep a written or taped record of all testimony given. The Commissioner shall state, in writing, the findings and the reasons for the decision.
(b) The Commissioner shall issue regulations governing the submission, processing, and adjudication of claims, including regulations governing hearings before him or her.
(c) The Commissioner shall make available the necessary forms for processing claims.
(d) The Commissioner shall insure that on the claim forms supplied to the applicant are spaces wherein the president and company chief, or any other 2 officers designated by the fire company, may, by oath or affirmation, depose the following:
“I, ________________(name of officer), do hereby swear/affirm that ____(name of applicant) , a member in good standing of the ________________ Volunteer Fire Company, did sustain the injury or disease listed herein as the cause of the permanent disability claim, in the circumstances and on the date herein set forth.
____(Title of Officer) ”
Notwithstanding this section, the Insurance Commissioner may consider the submission of the above oath or affirmation as meeting the requirements for a hearing on every claim.
§ 6705 Appeals.
Any aggrieved claimant may appeal a decision of the Commissioner to Superior Court, which shall have final jurisdiction under this chapter. Such appeal shall be an appeal on the record. The Superior Court may, by rule, set forth the procedure for processing appeals under this chapter.
§ 6706 Payments to be diminished by amounts of other benefits.
If any claimant under this chapter is entitled to receive, as a result of the same disability in the line of duty which gave rise to a claim under this chapter, any payment of state, federal, county or municipal funds or insurance proceeds from a policy paid entirely by the state, federal, county or municipal government in the form of a disability benefit, other than that provided for under this chapter, the payment pursuant to this chapter shall be reduced by the amount of such other payment or payments to which the claimant is entitled.
§ 6707 Source of payments under this chapter.
Payments made pursuant to this chapter shall be made from the State Self-Insurance Fund, as provided in Chapter 65 of this title. The General Assembly shall, when necessary, from time to time, provide for the adequate funding to the said Self-Insurance Fund to cover claims under this chapter.
§ 6708 Exemption from tax and execution.
Payments made for permanent disability under this chapter are hereby exempted from any state, county or municipal tax and shall not be subject to execution or attachment or to any legal process whatsoever and shall be unassignable.