Explanation of the Public Employees Retirement Fund (PERF) for police and firefighters.
143 W. Market St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
The Public Employees Retirement Fund (PERF) Board of Trustees administers the 1977 Police Officers’ and Firefighters’ Pension and Disability Fund. The 1977 Fund was created by statute (IC 36-8-8-1) and is mandatory for full-time, fully paid police officers and firefighters who work for employers participating in the 1977 Fund. It was created for police officers and firefighters hired or rehired after April 30, 1977 or who converted their benefits. As of 2010, 142 Indiana cities, towns, and townships are participating employers.
The 1977 Fund provides three types of benefits to police officers and firefighters:
Because the 1977 Fund provides disability benefits, the WC Act covers only medical benefits for police officers and firefighters who are members of the Fund. This is why Indiana has state special classifications for police officers (7725) and firefighters (7699) who are members of the pension fund.
Per IC 22-3-2-2 (c), the WC Act does not apply to firefighters or police officers who are members of the Fund. However, the WC Act also provides that a municipality may elect to purchase workers compensation insurance for medical benefits only. Even if the municipality does not buy a workers compensation policy, it must still provide medical care for police officers and firefighters who are members of the Fund per IC 36-8-4-5.
The exemption applies only while the police officer is acting as an employee (under the direction) of the municipality. When a police officer or firefighter steps out of this role to work for another employer, they may be subject to the WC Act, regardless of the nature of their duties.
The 1977 Fund provides indemnity benefits for member officers injured while off duty, but at a much lower % of pay than when they are injured on the job. So how is the average weekly wage calculated for workers compensation indemnity benefits when an officer is injured while working for a secondary employer such as a school or bank? The Workers Compensation Board of Indiana responded to this question in 2013 as follows:
“If you take the fact policemen don’t normally receive indemnity under comp off the table, because that is not where they were injured, and view it as ‘like’ employment then I think you could make a great case for considering both wages for purposes of figuring their average weekly wage.
Put another way I think all our judges, and of course if this was a disputed issue their opinion would be the only one that counted, tend to liberally interpret the Act to benefit injured workers when it comes to interpreting most disputes over how their wages should be calculated so they receive higher benefits, probably even more so when it involved someone in this often dangerous line of work.”
Lists of Participating Employers
The most current listing we have was effective as of July 30, 2019.
The Indiana Code is available on the State of Indiana website.