On the heels of an increasing number of stories about 9/11 victims being denied compensation, benefits, or care for conditions that have already been certified as 9/11-related, the New York Daily News published an editorial urging certain federal agencies and New York City pension authorities to clear roadblocks which they have placed in the way of victims.
The editorial asked two specific questions:
- “Why is the federal labor department at odds with the rest of the U.S. government and universal opinion of the medical and scientific community in recognizing that the airborne toxins released in the destruction of the World Trade Center cause deadly aliments — from lung disease to cancer?”
- “And why is the New York City Employees Retirement System such a laggard in approving disability pensions for city workers, from EMTs to Sanitmen, who were sickened by service connected to 9/11 and its aftermath?”
Department of Labor Problems
The Daily News’ first question relates to struggles like that discussed in one story we wrote about in 2017. A U.S. Customs Service investigator who had spent months after 9/11 at Ground Zero and at Fresh Kills searching through the ruins for missing case evidence was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago. He filed a claim with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) and enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP). His leukemia was certified by the WTCHP as being 9/11-related, allowing him to obtain compensation from the VCF and treatment under the WTCHP.
But that was not enough for the U.S. Department of Labor, which administered the investigator’s disability and workers’ compensation benefits. Even though his doctors, the WTCHP, and the VCF had all confirmed his leukemia as 9/11-related, the Department of Labor sent him a letter denying his claim because he had failed to prove that his leukemia was related to 9/11.
The Daily News is understandably outraged about such situations, as are we. As the editorial states:
“…the Department of Labor, which approves workers’ compensation for federal employees, is still doubting cause and effect, meaning that some sickened 9/11 rescue and recovery personnel are unable to get their workers’ comp — and that in turn delays DOJ’s Victims Compensation Fund from issuing them payments for economic loss. This is nuts. Why can’t Labor agree with the rest of the government bureaucracy and Congress and the doctors and scientists? [Secretary of Labor] Acosta has to act.”
EMT Pension Struggles
Similarly, we wrote a story about an investigation which found that the NYCERS board, which administers pension benefits for NYC paramedics and EMTs, rejected nearly half of the 9/11-related disability claims filed by EMTs and paramedics — 56 out of 116 over the past year. In contrast, the FDNY Pension Fund has approved 75 percent of disability claims filed by firefighters stemming from the WTC attacks.
The Daily News correctly asserts that:
“NYCERS, dominated by the mayor, is too slow in granting 9/11 pensions, unlike sister funds for fire and police. Until pensions are known — you guessed it, Victims Compensation Fund cash has to wait. NYCERS should learn from the other funds and share info more readily to speed payments.”
We wholeheartedly agree that it is long past time for all authorities which are responsible for 9/11 victim compensation, care, and benefits to get on the same page when it comes to approving claims base on 9/11-related conditions.
At Turley Hansen & Rosasco, we have been helping survivors, first responders, and recovery workers recover compensation since shortly after the World Trade Center fell. Our extensive experience and deep commitment to 9/11 victims has resulted in the recovery of over $75 million in VCF compensation on behalf of over 1,200 clients.
If you have questions about 9/11 victim compensation or need assistance with claim procedures, please contact Turley Hansen today and request a FREE CLAIM REVIEW with one of our experienced WTC lawyers. Call 1-855-WTC-INFO (1-855-982-4636) today. We look forward to assisting you.