Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the federal government is dragging its heels and making the families of fallen law officers in Iowa and elsewhere wait far too long before benefits are paid. Grassley says the families of slain or injured officers who file claims for Public Safety Officers’ Benefits should see results in 90 days, but some families are waiting up to three years.
“The idea is to get the payments out when they’re supposed to go out so families don’t suffer,” Grassley says. “They’re already suffering because their loved one has given their life in the line of duty.” Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he’s sent another letter to the assistant attorney general, asking about the continued delays.
Formal letters were also sent to the Justice Department by Grassley on this subject in January and February. Grassley says, “The program was set up specifically to ease the transition from a tragedy like that…so the family could move forward.” While officials say progress is being made in the response times, Grassley says he’s seeing no sign that’s the case.
“It’s like pulling teeth just to get answers to simple questions,” Grassley says, “particularly when you expect, in a country based on the rule of law, that people don’t do what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it.”
A report released in 2009 by the Government Accountability Office found families of fallen or injured officers waited an average of a year and a half before receiving an approval or denial of their Public Safety Officers’ Benefits application. That’s despite a 2004 Attorney General order that instructed the benefits office to make a determination on all claims within 90 days.