Lynch Introduces Legislation to Enhance Fairness for Overseas Federal Contractors Killed in the Line of Duty

Jan 26, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08) introduced H.R. 312, the Glen Anthony Doherty Overseas Security Personnel Fairness Act. This legislation is named after Glen Doherty, the former Navy SEAL and C.I.A. security contractor, who was killed during the September 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate and classified annex in Benghazi, Libya. The Glen Anthony Doherty Overseas Security Personnel Fairness Act would remove a significant penalty in federal law that currently prohibits the families of overseas contractors who are killed in the line of duty from receiving full death benefits if the deceased employee is unmarried with no children or other dependents. The families of overseas federal contractors, including the family of Mr. Doherty, have faced significant difficulty in receiving death benefits under federally-required insurance policies when their loved one is killed on the job, but is single with no dependents. The bill is cosponsored by Congressman Gerry Connolly (VA-11).

“It is unacceptable that the Defense Base Act requires federal workers to take out an insurance policy before they are deployed overseas and accepts the payment of insurance premiums from those workers, but fails to provide death benefits to their families or estate solely based on marital and child status,” said Congressman Lynch. “The Glen Anthony Doherty Overseas Security Personnel Fairness Act seeks to right the injustice faced by the family of Glen Doherty and families in similar situations. The legislation would ensure that courageous Americans, like Mr. Doherty, are allowed to provide the protections and benefits that they intended their loved ones to receive in the event of their death in the line of duty and in the service of our country,” added Lynch.

Glen Doherty was killed in September of 2012 while defending the classified annex near the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi against a terrorist attack that also resulted in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, former Navy SEAL and C.I.A. contractor Tyrone Woods, and U.S. State Department officer Sean Smith. While Mr. Doherty was unmarried with no children or other dependents, he activated his mandatory Defense Base Act insurance policy before deploying for a scheduled 54-day mission to Libya beginning on September 7, 2012 with the reasonable belief that his policy would pay benefits to his estate or next of kin in the event of his death. 

Barbara Doherty, the mother of Glen Doherty, made the following remarks, “Our family is grateful to Congressman Lynch for continuing to fight for this change.  To lose Glen the way that we did, and then be told we are not entitled to any kind of death benefit when he had a policy, is just not right.  We support a change in this law so that no other American family has to suffer the way that we did.  The stories of other contractors killed may never be known publicly due to the classified nature of this work, but our country owes them a debt.  We thank Congressman Lynch for working to right this wrong.” 

“The families of Americans who are tragically killed in the line of duty while serving overseas deserve access to full death benefits, regardless of the deceased’s marital status,” said Congressman Connolly. “I am proud to cosponsor Mr. Lynch’s urgently needed legislation to ensure that Defense Base Act insurance policies treat all workers equitably. No family should have to experience the hardships that the Doherty family faced when their son was killed in the September 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack while heroically defending his compatriots. Yet due to a quirk in the law, his loved ones had difficulty accessing the full death benefit policy Mr. Doherty had purposely activated for them, solely because he was unmarried with no children.”  

The Defense Base Act of 1941 requires that overseas federal contractors obtain so-called Defense Base Act insurance in order to make certain that injured workers are entitled to workers’ compensation for employment-related injuries and their survivors are entitled to death benefits in the event of a job-related tragedy. Regrettably, current law does not extend death benefits, aside from $3,000 in funeral expenses, to the family or designated beneficiary of a federal contractor who is killed in the line of duty overseas but is unmarried with no dependents. H.R. 312 would therefore amend the Defense Base Act to ensure that full death benefits are extended to the families or designated beneficiaries of these federal contractors who have died in service to our country as a result of a war-risk hazard or an act of terrorism. H.R. 312 would also provide retroactive death benefits to the designated beneficiaries or families of such federal contractors who have been killed in the line of duty since September 11, 2001, including Defense Base Act cases resulting from Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.