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Ohio law expands to allow firefighters to collect working wage loss for cancer

firefighterAmendments to Michael Louis Palumbo, Jr. Act go into effect

As of Sept. 29, an Ohio law honoring a local hero has been expanded to allow firefighters diagnosed with cancer to collect compensation for working wage loss.

In April, the Michael Louis Palumbo, Jr. Act established the presumption that firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer developed the disease as a result of exposure to carcinogens on the job.

The law protects both paid and volunteer firefighters assigned to at least six years of hazardous duty in the event of temporary total disability, working wage loss, permanent total disability or death caused by cancer.

The presumption that the cancer resulted from an individual’s work as a firefighter can be challenged in a limited number of circumstances. For example, firefighters may not be able to claim workers’ compensation if there is evidence the cancer developed before they began working as a firefighter or if the cancer was linked to the use of tobacco products. Individuals over the age of 70 and those who haven’t been assigned to hazardous duty in over 15 years may also be denied.

The law applies to disability benefit applications and workers’ compensation claims filed on or after April 6, 2017.

Local hero fought for rights of fellow firefighters

The act is named for the late Michael L. Palumbo Jr., who lost his battle with brain cancer in May. Palumbo built his career as a firefighter over nearly 25 years, serving as fire captain with Willowick Fire Department, a SWAT medic, a member of hazmat team, honor guard and fire captain with Beachwood Fire Department.

Palumbo testified before the Senate about his 22-month battle with the disease and fought to have the bill passed to benefit others in similar situations. Palumbo and his family were present as Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed S.B. 27 into law just four months before he lost his fight with cancer.

Were you or a loved one diagnosed with cancer after working as a firefighter? Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO or fill out an online contact form to find out if you may be eligible for compensation.