New York EMTs and Paramedics Are Struggling to Get Disability Benefits for Their 9/11-Related Conditions

By Hansen & Rosasco

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center, thousands of New York City firefighters were on the scene, breathing in the toxic dust that would lead to a wide array of serious medical problems as well as the deaths of hundreds of firefighters from those illnesses. But the brave members of the NYFD weren’t the only ones rushing to help, of course. Hundreds of paramedics and EMTs were at Ground Zero as well. But even though they were exposed to the same toxic air as their firefighter colleagues, these medical first responders are being denied disability benefit pensions at a staggeringly high rate compared to those firefighters.

A recent New York Post article shined a light on this disparity and the struggles of EMTs and paramedics seeking disability for their 9/11-related conditions.

While the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund provides benefits and money for those who have been diagnosed with 9/11-related illnesses, cancers, or other medical conditions, those who acquired such conditions while on the job – like 9/11 firefighters, police, recovery workers, paramedics and EMTs – may also be eligible for disability and workers’ compensation benefits.

NYC paramedics and EMTs are employed by the NYFD just as firefighters are. As such, they are eligible for three-quarters, tax-free disability pensions, just as firefighters are. But pensions held by paramedics and EMTs are governed by the NYCERS system, while firefighters and officers’ pensions are controlled by the FDNY Pension Fund.

The Post found that the NYCERS board 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 stemming from the WTC attacks.

This disparity has attracted the attention of state legislators, who are looking into the issue. The challenges faced by these medical first responders in obtaining benefits mirror those faced by others whose jobs put them in harm’s way in the days and months after the attacks. A similar tale was recently told by a federal criminal investigator who was denied disability benefits through workers’ compensation even though his leukemia was certified as 9/11-related by multiple physicians and the 9/11 World Trade Center Health Program.

The struggles of those who are suffering because of their bravery and commitment after the 9/11 attacks should not be compounded with additional struggles in seeking compensation for their illnesses and losses. Sadly, too many 9/11 first responders and recovery workers find themselves overwhelmed and confused by the procedures of applying for and obtaining 9/11 victim compensation. Complicated filing requirements, often-changing rules and regulations and strict deadlines are just a few of the hurdles that can stand in the way of obtaining compensation. That’s why we’re here. Since 2001, the WTC lawyers at Turley Hansen & Rosasco have worked tirelessly to help 9/11 victims get the resources they need and deserve, recovering over $100 million for our almost 2000 clients from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund to date.

If you are a New York City EMT or paramedic and are facing difficulties with pension, disability, workers’ compensation, or other 9/11-related benefit claims, please contact Turley Hansen & Rosasco today and request a FREE CLAIM REVIEW with one of our experienced 9/11 lawyers. Call 1-855-WTC-INFO (1-855-982-4636) today. We look forward to assisting you.

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