Reed Smith Client Alerts

Key takeaways

  • Governor Newsom signed AB 1020 into law on October 8, 2023 with an effective date of January 1, 2024. There are two notable changes that AB 1020 brings with the upcoming calendar year.
  • AB 1020 expands the type of injuries that are presumed to arise out of, or in the course of, a member’s employment.
  • AB 1020 also extends the disability presumptions enumerated above to up to 60 months after the last date that the member actually worked as a firefighter member or member in active law enforcement.

AB 1020 creates new disability presumptions

Existing law recognizes a rebuttable heart trouble presumption for safety, firefighter, and active law enforcement members who have completed at least five years of service in public retirement systems governed by the County Employee Retirement Law of 1937 (“CERL”). See Gov’t Code § 31720.5. AB 1020 adds CERL §§ 31720.91 et seq. (effective January 1, 2024) and expands the type of injuries that are presumed to arise out of, or in the course of, a member's employment, if their public employment position is listed in the Labor Code provision specified therein. It provides a rebuttable presumption for disability retirement in the case of the following injuries:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (Id. § 31720.91),
  • Tuberculosis (Id. § 31720.92),
  • Meningitis (Id. § 31720.93),
  • Skin cancer (Id. § 31720.94),
  • Lyme disease (Id. § 31720.95),
  • Lower back impairments (Id. § 31720.96), and
  • Hernia or pneumonia (Id. § 31720.97).

Unlike the other newly added injuries subject to rebuttable presumption, the post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) injury depends on a diagnosis based on the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association. Id. § 31720.91(c)(1). Therefore, when reviewing whether a claimed psychological injury counts as a qualifying PTSD injury, CERL systems must determine whether the American Psychiatric Association has changed the diagnostic elements for PTSD and must rely on the most recent iteration of those diagnostic elements, which may change over time. Additionally, the rebuttable PTSD presumption has a sunset date of January 1, 2025 under Gov’t Code § 31720.91(e). The other newly added injuries do not have a sunset date.