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Retired Police Officer Wins Battle for Enhanced Pension for 9/11-Related Illnesses

Feb 20, 2015

A retired police officer has won a five-year legal battle for increased pension benefits for illnesses she developed after working at Ground Zero.

Annmarie Gordon is to receive an enhanced disability pension. After she began work at a security post at Ground Zero, she developed symptoms including dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea and chest pains. In 2002 she was diagnosed with heavy metal poisoning (cadmium, lead, and mercury), fibromyalgia, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, and acid reflux. A lower court ruled that Gordon’s illnesses were not a result of toxic exposures, but the Appellate Division in Manhattan overturned that ruling. Gordon worked at the security post for two months following the September 11th attacks. The Police Pension Fund and a lower court argued that her illnesses were not caused by toxic exposure at Ground Zero, but the appellate panel noted that she never had these conditions previously. They ruled that fibromyalgia qualifies as a “new onset disease." Officer Gordon presented studies linking heavy metal toxicity to fibromyalgia.

Parker Waichman LLP, the firm that represented Gordon, said that the enhanced disability pension will add another $2,400 or more monthly to Gordon’s pension. Her original disability pension gave her half of her most recent salary and was taxed. The new pension, which is not taxed, gives Gordon three-quarters salary.

Many first responders and others who worked in the rescue and recovery efforts after 9/11 developed respiratory illnesses, cancer, and other serious conditions as a result of exposure to toxic dust and other toxins released in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. The federal Zadroga Act, passed in 2010, provides compensation, health monitoring, and treatment to first responders, rescue workers, and community survivors. But two key programs, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) and the World Trade Center Health Program will expire in October 2015 and October 2016 respectively unless the act is reauthorized. In fall 2014, a bipartisan group of legislators introduced legislation to extend the Zadroga Act for another 25 years.

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