BALCONY - Business and Labor Coalition of New York
July 9th, 2008

New York, NY, July 8, 2008 – BALCONY, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York, commended the legislation introduced by Governor David Paterson to expand disability benefits to City and State employees injured while responding to the collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC). The new legislation, introduced on June 13, is based on recommendations made in March by the September 11th Worker Protection Task Force. Under the proposed legislation, disability retirement benefits would be available to more first responders than are currently covered by State law. In addition, the deadline to register for Workers’ Compensation and disability would be extended to September 11, 2010.

Both the New York State (NYS) Assembly and the NYS Senate passed the legislation. However, the bill will not officially become law until the Governor signs it, which is expected to happen sometime this month.

This bill expands the list of first responders who can file for benefits to include the following:

  • Non-uniformed first responders not required to undergo a pre-employment physical examination
  • First responders who worked for any amount of time in the first 48 hours after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001
  • Vested members of a public pension system who stopped working prior to filing a claim
  • Workers who became disabled more than two years after the WTC disaster but before the Workers’ Compensation Law was extended to cover them
  • 911 dispatchers
  • Emergency vehicle radio repair mechanics
  • State and county correction officers and deputy sheriffs

“Because many non-uniformed City and State employees who took part in the rescue and recovery operation at Ground Zero were not required to undergo pre-employment physicals, this requirement was dropped from the bill introduced by Governor Paterson”, according to the news release posted on the website of the New York City Department of Health. “Instead, employees can obtain a disability pension by providing access to medical records and demonstrating the lack of any pre-existing conditions prior to September 11, 2001. The geographic boundaries for filing a disability claim have also been expanded beyond four WTC sites to include employees who worked in emergency vehicle garages and emergency call centers.”

The same news release reports that “the law now requires that individuals who file disability claims must have worked for at least 40 hours in the rescue and recovery operation following the WTC disaster. The new legislation withdraws this requirement for responders who worked at Ground Zero in the first 48 hours after the collapse of the WTC because the Task Force gathered medical evidence demonstrating that early arrival at the site increased the health risks associated with WTC exposure.”

In October 2006, BALCONY produced a series of 9/11 Workers’ Compensation television, radio and internet Public Service Announcements (PSAs), in both English and Spanish, featuring actress Sigourney Weaver, director Jim Simpson, and former boxing champion José Torres, all of whom work or live in Lower Manhattan. BALCONY 9/11 Workers’ Compensation PSAs were funded by The Center on Workers’ Injury Policy, Inc., among others, and have already been disseminated throughout New York on TV and radio stations, distributed to business and trade associations, and streamed on union websites.

View the updated PSAs by clicking here: NEW PSAs

The information needed to register for these benefits can be found at

www.nyc.gov/html/doh/wtc/html/rescue/workcomp.shtml.