New Bill Signed by Gov. Cuomo Extends Benefits Deadline for 911 WorkersSep 14, 2016
9/11 workers will have more time to seek lost wages and medical benefits stemming from their efforts in the September 11th rescue, recovery and clean-up operations. In a press release issued Sept. 11, Gov. Cuomo announced that he has signed new legislation extending the deadline to register under the World Trade Center (WTC) Disability Law to Sept. 18, 2018. The bill (S5745-C/A7958-C) was signed in hopes that more 9/11 responders can receive benefits such as workers' compensation, disability and accidental death benefits due to their participation in the 9/11 recovery efforts.
Fellow lawmakers applauded Gov. Cuomo, and stressed the importance of never forgetting 9/11 responder efforts. "This legislation was crucial for the thousands of brave men and women who sacrificed their time and health at Ground Zero to help others during the aftermath of our nation's most horrific attacks in recent history. I commend the Governor for signing this crucial legislation. This action reaffirms his and all New Yorkers' gratitude for the selfless acts of countless individuals who came together to help so many." said Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
The legislation was similarly praised by 9/11 advocacy groups. "There is no expiration date for the heroic sacrifice of the New York City police officers and other first responders and volunteers who were made ill by their service in the weeks and months following 9/11. It is critical that they receive the compensation and care they deserve, for as long as they need it. We applaud the Governor and the Legislature for extending these important benefits." said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch.
9/11 responders were also encouraged to enroll in the WTC Health Program, which offers free medical treatment and monitoring to responders and survivors. It is one of two programs, the other being the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), established through the Zadroga Act. The Zadroga Act was initially signed into law in 2011. It was reauthorized at the end of 2015, following years of effort from advocacy groups. The WTC Health Program is funded for another 75 years as a result of reauthorization.
A massive cloud of toxic dust was released when the towers fell, exposing responders and residents to carcinogens and other hazardous substances. Exposure to toxic dust has been linked to a number of different health problems. The Zadroga Act offers benefits to individuals affected by 9/11-related health conditions, including respiratory disorders and over 60 different types of cancer.
Newsday reports that a new wave of patients is enrolling in the WTC Health Program. Medical researchers attribute this to the fact that many 9/11-linked illnesses, especially cancer and diseases of the immune system, take years to manifest. The number of 9/11-linked cancers has tripled in the past two years to 5,441. Over the course of a 1-year period ending Jun. 30, an additional 2,500 enrolled in the program, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates. In total, 75,000 people across the country are being treated for 9/11-related conditions.