Reauthorization of the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act
LBA News, Volume XXV, No. 1, January - March 2015
Official Publication of the Lieutenants Benevolent Association "Leaders of the Finest"
On November 21, 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo Signed into law an extension for filing a Notice of Participation with the Police Pension Fund for disability benefits until September 11, 2015. Tragically, a number of First Responders to the terrorist attach on September 11, 2001, have contracted disabling diseases, or died after exposure to the toxins of 9/11, but failed to file the required notice by the original deadline of September 11, 2010. This new law extends the filing deadline to September 11, 2015, and offers relief to the families of officers who died but were denied benefits for failing to file this notice.
Passage of this new law came on the heels of a mass outreach effort from all of New York City’s police unions, including the LBA, to U.S. Representatives and State Officials encouraging passage of this legislation. In a letter to Congressional leaders, the unions wrote:
“On behalf of the undersigned organizations, representing more than 300,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers, we are writing to advise you of our strong support for H.R.503 and S.2844, the ‘James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act.’ We urge your support and request your assistance in moving this legislation through the Congress as expeditiously as possible.
Thirteen years ago the heinous and premeditated terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, claimed nearly 3,000 lives – including 72 of our fellow law enforcement officers. In the following weeks and months, first responders like us from every corner of America descended on New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, PA to assist in rescue and recovery efforts. At the World Trade Center (WTC) site we willingly labored countless hours searching for our friends, colleagues, and fellow citizens who were trapped in the wreckage. We did so in an environment more toxic than any we have seen before or since. Although each first responder who was there would willingly volunteer again, we now see the price of that service in the 30,000 responders and survivors who are struggling with a WTC- related illness.
To address the health crisis that emerged among 9/11 responders, you and your colleagues came together in 2010 to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) established by the Act now serves participants in all 50 U.S. states, including more than 2,900 individuals who have been diagnosed with a WTC-related cancer. Similarly, the Act’s provisions to reopen the original 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund (VCF) have provided needed financial assistance to those who are sick and the families of the fallen. In so doing both the VCF and WTCHP exemplify our nation’s commitment to ensuring that those who risk their lives carrying out their sworn duty to protect and serve receive the treatment and compensation that they deserve.
Despite the strides that have been made to care for those who are ill and families of the fallen, there is still more to be done. The WTCHP continues to identify illnesses caused by exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero, which now include more than 60 types of cancer. Ground Zero first responders continue to be diagnosed with WTC-related illnesses. Many of them suffer from multiple conditions. And law enforcement officers continue to die from 9/11. Tragically more officers have now succumbed to a WTC-related illness than perished in the collapse of the WTC towers on 9/11.
America cannot now abandon those who bore the battle brought to our shores on 9/11. We must also care for the widows and orphans they leave behind as they pass before their time from illnesses incurred from their selfless service. The four of you recently came together at the presentation of the Congressional Gold Medals to the nation’s three 9/11 memorials. Each of you spoke with reverence about the responders, survivors, and victims of the 9/11 attacks and the obligation America has to never forget them. We ask that you come together again in this same spirit to honor and care for these men and women and their loved ones by passing the ‘James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act.’”
Chapter 472 of the Laws of 2014 extends the Notice of Participation filing deadline to September 11, 2015 for Service and Disability retirees, as well as active members to file a sworn statement indicating participation in the Rescue, Recovery, and Clean-up Operations. This Notice of Participation preserves your right, as an active or retired member of the New York City Police Pension Fund to apply for an Accident Disability Retirement under the World Trade Center Disability Law.
To file a Notice of Participation, complete the form and have your signature notarized The form can be found at http://media.wix.com/ugd/ace4a2_986979d720cb4e79bda130eade3e6c05.pdf. Notices must be received by the Fund by September 11, 2015. Please mail Notices to the Police Pension fund, to the attention of Calendar Prep, at 233 Broadway, 25th Floor, New York, New York 10279. To check if the Fund has a Notice of Participation on file, go to www.nyc.gov/html/nycppf/downloads/pdf/WTC_MAIN.pdf and search (scroll) for your tax identification number.
If you have not yet filed a Notice of Participation, or if you have and want to apply for a World Trade Center-Related Accident Disability Retirement, please contact the LBA’s Disability Attorneys, Ungaro and Cifuni at (212) 766-5800.