Disability Retirement: COVID-19 Presumption
Status: Enacted. Effective January 1, 2022. Sunset/repeal: December 31, 2023.
This bill, until January 1, 2023, creates a service-connection disability presumption to be applied to disability retirements on the basis, in whole or in part, of a COVID-19-related illness. In those circumstances, the bill requires that it be presumed that the disability arose out of, or in the course of, the member’s employment. (See new Government Code Section 7521.) The new law authorizes the presumption to be rebutted by evidence to the contrary, but unless controverted, the board is required to find it in accordance with the presumption.
The COVID-19 presumption applies to members in any job classifications who test positive for COVID-19 during an outbreak of the disease at their places of employment, as defined. The law defines an “outbreak” as existing if within 14 calendar days one of the following occurs at a specific place of employment:
- If the employer has 100 employees or fewer at a specific place of employment, 4 employees test positive for COVID-19.
- If the employer has more than 100 employees at a specific place of employment, 4 percent of the number of employees who reported to the specific place of employment, test positive for COVID-19.
- A specific place of employment is ordered to close by a local public health department, the State Department of Public Health, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or a school superintendent due to a risk of infection with COVID-19.
A “specific place of employment” is defined as “the building, store, facility, or agricultural field where an employee performs work at the employer’s direction.” A “specific place of employment” does not include “the employee’s home or residence, unless the employee provides home health care services to another individual at the employee’s home or residence.”
The COVID-19 presumption also applies to members employed in specified firefighter, public safety officer, and health care job classifications, or their functional equivalents:
- Active firefighters
- Peace officers
- Fire and rescue services coordinators (office of emergency service)
- Health facility workers
- Home health agency care providers
- Other health facility workers
- In-home supportive services workers
The bill applies to public retirement systems governed by the provisions of the Public Employees Pension Reform Act of 2013. This would include CCCERA as well as the other 1937 Act county retirement systems.