Text: S.419 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)All Information (Except Text)

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Public Law No: 115-36 (06/02/2017)

 
[115th Congress Public Law 36]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]



[[Page 131 STAT. 849]]

Public Law 115-36
115th Congress

                                 An Act


 
 To require adequate reporting on the Public Safety Officers' Benefits 
  program, and for other purposes. <<NOTE: June 2, 2017 -  [S. 419]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: Public Safety 
Officers' Benefits Improvement Act of 2017. 42 USC 3711 note.>> 
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Public Safety Officers' Benefits 
Improvement Act of 2017''.
SEC. 2. REPORTS.

    Section 1205 of title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe 
Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3796c) is amended--
            (1) in subsection (a), by inserting ``Rules, regulations, 
        and procedures issued under this part may include regulations 
        based on standards developed by another Federal agency for 
        programs related to public safety officer death or disability 
        claims.'' before the last sentence;
            (2) in subsection (b)--
                    (A) by inserting ``(1)'' before ``In making''; and
                    (B) by adding at the end the following:

    ``(2) <<NOTE: Determination.>>  In making a determination under 
section 1201, the Bureau shall give substantial weight to the evidence 
and all findings of fact presented by a State, local, or Federal 
administrative or investigative agency regarding eligibility for death 
or disability benefits.

    ``(3) <<NOTE: Consultation. Certification.>>  If the head of a 
State, local, or Federal administrative or investigative agency, in 
consultation with the principal legal officer of the agency, provides a 
certification of facts regarding eligibility for death or disability 
benefits, the Bureau shall adopt the factual findings, if the factual 
findings are supported by substantial evidence.''; and
            (3) by adding at the end the following:

    ``(e)(1)(A) <<NOTE: Deadlines. Web posting.>>  Not later than 30 
days after the date of enactment of this subsection, the Bureau shall 
make available on the public website of the Bureau information on all 
death, disability, and educational assistance claims submitted under 
this part that are pending as of the date on which the information is 
made available.

    ``(B) Not less frequently than once per week, the Bureau shall make 
available on the public website of the Bureau updated information with 
respect to all death, disability, and educational assistance claims 
submitted under this part that are pending as of the date on which the 
information is made available.
    ``(C) The information made available under this paragraph shall 
include--
            ``(i) for each pending claim--

[[Page 131 STAT. 850]]

                    ``(I) the date on which the claim was submitted to 
                the Bureau;
                    ``(II) the State of residence of the claimant;
                    ``(III) an anonymized, identifying claim number; and
                    ``(IV) the nature of the claim; and
            ``(ii) the total number of pending claims that were 
        submitted to the Bureau more than 1 year before the date on 
        which the information is made available.

    ``(2) <<NOTE: Deadlines. Web posting. Time 
periods. Determinations. Claims.>>  Not later than 180 days after the 
date of enactment of this subsection, the Bureau shall publish on the 
public website of the Bureau a report, and shall update such report on 
such website not less than once every 180 days thereafter, containing--
            ``(A) the total number of claims for which a final 
        determination has been made during the 180-day period preceding 
        the report;
            ``(B) the amount of time required to process each claim for 
        which a final determination has been made during the 180-day 
        period preceding the report;
            ``(C) as of the last day of the 180-day period preceding the 
        report, the total number of claims submitted to the Bureau on or 
        before that date for which a final determination has not been 
        made;
            ``(D) as of the last day of the 180-day period preceding the 
        report, the total number of claims submitted to the Bureau on or 
        before the date that is 1 year before that date for which a 
        final determination has not been made;
            ``(E) for each claim described in subparagraph (D), a 
        detailed description of the basis for delay;
            ``(F) as of the last day of the 180-day period preceding the 
        report, the total number of claims submitted to the Bureau on or 
        before that date relating to exposure due to the September 11th, 
        2001, terrorism attacks for which a final determination has not 
        been made;
            ``(G) as of the last day of the 180-day period preceding the 
        report, the total number of claims submitted to the Bureau on or 
        before the date that is 1 year before that date relating to 
        exposure due to the September 11th, 2001, terrorism attacks for 
        which a final determination has not been made;
            ``(H) for each claim described in subparagraph (G), a 
        detailed description of the basis for delay;
            ``(I) the total number of claims submitted to the Bureau 
        relating to exposure due to the September 11th, 2001, terrorism 
        attacks for which a final determination was made during the 180-
        day period preceding the report, and the average award amount 
        for any such claims that were approved;
            ``(J) the result of each claim for which a final 
        determination was made during the 180-day period preceding the 
        report, including the number of claims rejected and the basis 
        for any denial of benefits;
            ``(K) the number of final determinations which were appealed 
        during the 180-day period preceding the report, regardless of 
        when the final determination was first made;
            ``(L) the average number of claims processed per reviewer of 
        the Bureau during the 180-day period preceding the report;
            ``(M) for any claim submitted to the Bureau that required 
        the submission of additional information from a public agency, 
        and for which the public agency completed providing all of

[[Page 131 STAT. 851]]

        the required information during the 180-day period preceding the 
        report, the average length of the period beginning on the date 
        the public agency was contacted by the Bureau and ending on the 
        date on which the public agency submitted all required 
        information to the Bureau;
            ``(N) for any claim submitted to the Bureau for which the 
        Bureau issued a subpoena to a public agency during the 180-day 
        period preceding the report in order to obtain information or 
        documentation necessary to determine the claim, the name of the 
        public agency, the date on which the subpoena was issued, and 
        the dates on which the public agency was contacted by the Bureau 
        before the issuance of the subpoena; and
            ``(O) information on the compliance of the Bureau with the 
        obligation to offset award amounts under section 1201(f)(3), 
        including--
                    ``(i) the number of claims that are eligible for 
                compensation under both this part and the September 11th 
                Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 (49 U.S.C. 40101 note; 
                Public Law 107-42) (commonly referred to as the `VCF');
                    ``(ii) for each claim described in clause (i) for 
                which compensation has been paid under the VCF, the 
                amount of compensation paid under the VCF;
                    ``(iii) the number of claims described in clause (i) 
                for which the Bureau has made a final determination; and
                    ``(iv) the number of claims described in clause (i) 
                for which the Bureau has not made a final determination.

    ``(3) <<NOTE: Deadlines.>>  Not later than 2 years after the date of 
enactment of this subsection, and 2 years thereafter, the Comptroller 
General of the United States shall--
            ``(A) <<NOTE: Study.>>  conduct a study on the compliance of 
        the Bureau with the obligation to offset award amounts under 
        section 1201(f)(3); and
            ``(B) <<NOTE: Assessment.>>  submit to Congress a report on 
        the study conducted under subparagraph (A) that includes an 
        assessment of whether the Bureau has provided the information 
        required under subparagraph (B)(ix) of paragraph (2) of this 
        subsection in each report required under that paragraph.

    ``(4) <<NOTE: Definition.>>  In this subsection, the term `nature of 
the claim' means whether the claim is a claim for--
            ``(A) benefits under this subpart with respect to the death 
        of a public safety officer;
            ``(B) benefits under this subpart with respect to the 
        disability of a public safety officer; or
            ``(C) education assistance under subpart 2.''.
SEC. 3. AGE LIMITATION FOR CHILDREN.

    Section 1212(c) of title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe 
Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3796d-1(c)) is amended--
            (1) by striking ``No child'' and inserting the following:
            ``(1) In general.--Subject to paragraph (2), no child''; and
            (2) by adding at the end the following:
            ``(2) <<NOTE: Time periods.>>  Delayed approvals.--
                    ``(A) <<NOTE: Claims.>>  Educational assistance 
                application.--If a claim for assistance under this 
                subpart is approved more than 1 year after the date on 
                which the application for such assistance is filed with 
                the Attorney General, the age

[[Page 131 STAT. 852]]

                limitation under this subsection shall be extended by 
                the length of the period--
                          ``(i) beginning on the day after the date that 
                      is 1 year after the date on which the application 
                      is filed; and
                          ``(ii) ending on the date on which the 
                      application is approved.
                    ``(B) Claim for benefits for death or permanent and 
                total disability.--In addition to an extension under 
                subparagraph (A), if any, for an application for 
                assistance under this subpart that relates to a claim 
                for benefits under subpart 1 that was approved more than 
                1 year after the date on which the claim was filed with 
                the Attorney General, the age limitation under this 
                subsection shall be extended by the length of the 
                period--
                          ``(i) beginning on the day after the date that 
                      is 1 year after the date on which the claim for 
                      benefits is submitted; and
                          ``(ii) ending on the date on which the claim 
                      for benefits is approved.''.
SEC. 4. DUE DILIGENCE IN PAYING BENEFIT CLAIMS.

    Subpart 1 of part L of title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe 
Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3796 et seq.) is amended by adding at the 
end the following:
``SEC. 1206. <<NOTE: 42 USC 3796c-3.>>  DUE DILIGENCE IN PAYING 
                          BENEFIT CLAIMS.

    ``(a) In General.--The Bureau, with all due diligence, shall 
expeditiously attempt to obtain the information and documentation 
necessary to adjudicate a benefit claim filed under this part, including 
a claim for financial assistance under subpart 2.
    ``(b) Sufficient Information Unavailable.--If a benefit claim filed 
under this part, including a claim for financial assistance under 
subpart 2, is unable to be adjudicated by the Bureau because of a lack 
of information or documentation from a third party, such as a public 
agency, and such information is not readily available to the claimant, 
the Bureau may not abandon the benefit claim unless the Bureau has 
utilized the investigative tools available to the Bureau to obtain the 
necessary information or documentation, including subpoenas.''.
SEC. 5. PRESUMPTION THAT OFFICER ACTED PROPERLY.

    Section 1202 of title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe 
Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3796a) is amended--
            (1) by striking ``No benefit'' and inserting the following:

    ``(a) In General.--No benefit''; and
            (2) by adding at the end the following:

    ``(b) <<NOTE: Determinations.>>  Presumption.--In determining 
whether a benefit is payable under this part, the Bureau--
            ``(1) shall presume that none of the limitations described 
        in subsection (a) apply; and
            ``(2) shall not determine that a limitation described in 
        subsection (a) applies, absent clear and convincing evidence.''.
SEC. 6. <<NOTE: 42 USC 3796a note.>>  EFFECTIVE DATE; 
                    APPLICABILITY.

    The amendments made by this Act shall--
            (1) take effect on the date of enactment of this Act; and

[[Page 131 STAT. 853]]

            (2) apply to any benefit claim or application under part L 
        of title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 
        1968 (42 U.S.C. 3796 et seq.) that is--
                    (A) pending before the Bureau of Justice Assistance 
                on the date of enactment; or
                    (B) received by the Bureau on or after the date of 
                enactment of this Act.

    Approved June 2, 2017.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--S. 419:
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CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 163 (2017):
            May 16, considered and passed Senate.
            May 17, considered and passed House.

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