9/11 Firefighter’s Recent Death Shows Struggles of PTSD and Struggles With Pension Benefits

By Hansen & Rosasco

Joe Battista was an FDNY firefighter who worked for months at Ground Zero after the September 11th attacks, and then spent time sifting through debris at the Fresh Kills landfill looking for human remains. This soul-crushing work eventually took its toll.

Battista was certified by the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) as having 9/11-related lung problems and acid reflux disease. But he also was certified by the WTCHP and numerous doctors as having severe depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and insomnia related to his post-9/11 work. He spent time in and out of mental hospitals, became estranged from his wife and family, and recently died after choking on food during his latest hospital stay.

This sad story has received a lot of attention of late, and not just because of the tragedy of Battista’s mental and physical health struggles and death. His struggles to obtain FDNY 9/11 pension benefits have once again exposed the unjust obstacles faced by firefighters, first responders, and recovery workers who seek retirement and other benefits for their 9/11-related conditions.

Battista began petitioning the FDNY for World Trade Center disability retirement benefits in 2013. These benefits would have made his pension tax-free. Despite overwhelming medical evidence and WTCHP certification that his conditions were directly related to his work after 9/11 and despite receiving money from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund for his lung and reflux problems, FDNY pension authorities denied his requests for benefits on at least four separate occasions.

This disconnect between the conclusions of the WTCHP or VCF and the decisions made by those responsible for approving disability, pension, or workers compensation benefits is distressingly common. For example, a New York Post article from last fall discussed the problems that EMTs and paramedics had when seeking disability benefits for their 9/11-related conditions. 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 – during the previous year.

At Turley Hansen & Rosasco, we believe that the heroes and tireless workers who responded after the 9/11 attacks do not need such insults added to their injuries. These brave men and women who have clearly and demonstrably suffered physical and mental problems because of that terrible day deserve the benefits they have more than earned.

Getting 9/11 victims the resources they deserve has been the defining and sole mission of Turley Hansen & Partners since shortly after the Towers fell.  Our extensive experience and deep commitment to 9/11 victims has resulted in the recovery of over $75 million in compensation on behalf of over 1,200 clients.

Get The Help You Need From Our 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Lawyers

If you are facing psychological or emotional distress related to September 11th and its aftermath, please seek professional help. If you are a New York City firefighter, EMT or paramedic and are facing difficulties with pension, disability, workers’ compensation, or other 9/11-related benefit claims, please contact the experienced 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund lawyers at Turley Hansen & Rosasco.

We are the only law firm in the nation that focuses exclusively on representing victims, first responders, and recovery workers for their 9/11 related illnesses and injuries. Please call us today at 1-855-WTC-INFO (982-4636) or fill out our contact form to schedule your FREE CLAIM REVIEW. We look forward to assisting you and your family.

Posted under: 9/11 Victim Compensation, FDNY



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