Originally published in December 2016.
Vol. XXVI, No. 2, May-December 2016.
NYPD Disability Pension Applications. Members are strongly encouraged to call our office when they sustain potentially career-ending injuries in the line of duty. We will provide ongoing in-office and telephone consultations throughout the accidental disability pension process, from initial injury through conclusion, at no cost to the member. Our office can help to ensure that your LOD injury reports properly articulate the “accidental” nature of the injury. We have the experience to provide evaluations regarding the strengths and weaknesses of your claim, and can guide you through the administrative process of establishing disability. Their services include the preparation of your application and other required forms, guidance before your physical examination by the Police Pension Fund’s Medical Board, and legal representation before the Police Pension Fund Board of Trustees (which may include legal arguments made on your behalf).
September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Claims. On December 18, 2016, the Zadroga Act was reauthorized, extending two key benefits:
Cash Awards: Members who have developed World Trade Center-related conditions should contact our office to discuss whether or not they are eligible for cash award. Eligibility requirements have changed, and applicants who were initially told that they did not qualify may not be eligible for money damages. Members who are diagnosed with any new condition, including cancer, sleep apnea, Barrett’s Esophagus, and COPD, should contact our office forthwith to protect their potential entitlement.
Non-economic awards for pain and suffering are currently capped at $250,000 for WTC-related cancers, and at $90,000 for non-cancerous WTC conditions. In addition to a non-economic award, members that have developed disabling injuries can request lost earnings, yielding an award that could exceed one million dollars. The Victim Compensation Fund will continue to accept new claims until December 18, 2020.
Medical Benefits. Members who have developed World Trade Center-related conditions may also be eligible for medical benefits through the World Trade Center Health Program. The Health Program has been extended through 9/11 and provides medical treatment, testing and medication for WTC-related conditions at no cost. The Health Program has five Clinical Centers of Excellence in the New York City area, and has also developed a National Provider Network for retirees that have moved elsewhere. Members must register with the Victim Compensation Fund within two years from the date they are notified that their condition is WTC-related.
JASTA Claims. On September 28, 2016, Congress enacted the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (“JASTA”). JASTA allows Americans to sue foreign countries, like Saudi Arabia, that may have been complicit in the 9/11 attacks. However, there is much that has not been settled. Under the current legislation, the Justice Department can request a stay in any such action pending settlement discussions between the US and Saudi governments. Further, Congress may still amend the law to protect the interests of the United States in cases where our government may be held liable in foreign courts.
There are other issues that will take time to resolve. We do not yet know which classes of victims will be entitled to recover. We do not yet know whether victims who died on September 11th will be treated the same as the first responders and survivors who have subsequently been diagnosed with WTC-related conditions. Regardless, we will fight to protect the interests of all those who suffered a traumatic injury, or who subsequently developed illnesses as a consequence of their exposure at the WTC site. LBA members that have questions, or would like to participate in a JASTA lawsuit should contact our office for more information.
As a service to LBA members, our office is available regarding the above and other legal matters. We may be reached at 212 766-5800.