SPRINGFIELD – Widows of Chicago firefighters and police are one step closer to receiving additional support after a measure advanced by State Senator Robert Martwick (D-Chicago) was signed into law.
“Despite the false narrative of an overgenerous pension system, widows of Chicago first responders have been living with great financial hardship for decades,” Martwick said. “This adjustment is essential if we are going to support the widows of our Chicago firefighters and police officers who put themselves in the line of duty to keep all of us safe. I’m pleased that we are taking this small step to support the families who sacrifice so much for all of us.”
The new law will change the Chicago police and Chicago firefighter articles of the Illinois Pension Code to increase the minimum annuity for widows to no less than 150% of the Federal Poverty Level. It is currently set at 125%. In 2022, the Federal Poverty line is set at a mere $13,590 for a single person. This measure will ensure that if a Chicago firefighter or police officer dies in the line of duty, the widow’s annuity could not fall below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level for that family.
Earlier this year, seven Chicago firefighters were injured in a house fire in the Roseland neighborhood caused by a “flashover” when crews were battling the flames. Incidents like these underscore the dangers that first responders encounter on the job and the concern that their loved ones have when they leave the house every day to go to work.
“The loss of a loved one who sacrificed so much to serve their community is unimaginable and their family shouldn’t have to struggle financially as a result,” Martwick said. “This reform aims to tackle the disparity that comes with this tragedy and provide basic dignity to the families who have lost a loved one.”
Senate Bill 4053 was signed into law on Friday and takes effect immediately.