9/11 New York Workers' Compensation Bill Gaining Traction in AlbanyWednesday, June 14, 2006
It looks like a version of the new 9/11 Workers’ Comp Bill introduced recently by Assemblyman Jonathan L. Bing (D-Manhattan) will soon become law. Final details of a compromise 9/11 bill are currently being worked out by negotiators from Governor Pataki’s office, the Assembly and the Senate, where a similar bill was introduced by State Senator John Marchi (R-Staten Island). The New York Workers’ Compensation Alliance has been working closely with all interested parties in Albany to craft a law that will protect all 9/11 heroes. If such a bill is signed by Governor Pataki, Ground Zero rescue, recovery and clean up workers will be given significant new protections that have hindered their workers’ compensation claims to date.
One of the main problems 9/11 workers have faced at the New York Workers’ Compensation Board is having their claims denied for late filing. In New York, an injured worker has two years from the "date of accident" (9/11/01) to file a claim for benefits. Under the current law, that would make the cut off deadline for filing 9/11 claims September 11, 2003. But what about the clean up worker who breathed in numerous toxins at Ground Zero but doesn’t begin to experience respiratory symptoms until sometime in 2004? He is eventually diagnosed with lung cancer related to Ground Zero. Currently, this claim would be denied by the Workers’ Compensation Board as untimely.
Specifically, the new bill would fix this problem by removing the current "Statute of Limitations" (filing deadline) that has led to mass denials of 9/11 workers’ comp claims. It would apply the deadline normally reserved for Occupational Diseases such as mesothelioma or carpal tunnel syndrome (generally two years from the "date of disablement") . Hopefully, the new law will also allow all prior 9/11 claims denied or not filed due to deadline problems to be reopened or newly filed.
The New York Legislature and the Governor are on a roll lately! Timely budgets, more school aid, and now a much needed workers’ compensation bill to protect the health and economic security of 9/11 heroes. We are truly living up to our nickname, the "Empire State"!