New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo just signed legislation to extend the deadline for 9/11 responders to register under the World Trade Center Disability Law. The legislation, signed on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, extends the deadline to September 11, 2018, enabling rescue and recovery workers additional time to seek lost wages and medical benefits related to the 9/11 attacks.
Governor Cuomo urged 9/11 responders to enroll in the WTC Health Program, one of two programs established by the Zadroga Act. The other program is the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).
The WTC Health Program provides free medical treatment and monitoring to those who helped in the 9/11 rescue and recovery efforts. When the Zadroga Act was reauthorized in December 2016, the WTC Heath Program was funded for another 75 years.
Meanwhile, the bill enables rescue and recovery workers, including volunteer workers, to register by the new date of September 11, 2018 to register.
By extending the deadline, Governor Cuomo has made it possible for more 9/11 responders to receive benefits—such as workers’ compensation, disability, and accidental death benefits—due to the responders’ and workers’ activities with WTC rescue, recovery, and cleanup.
“Though September 11th may feel like an eternity ago, we still feel the pain and the loss like it was yesterday, and the thousands of brave men and women who stepped up in our darkest hour are still grappling with the aftereffects,” said Governor Cuomo. He added that, “We vow to do whatever we have to do to provide these brave men and women and their families the benefits they deserve. As New Yorkers, when we are knocked down, we get up twice as strong because we have our fellow New Yorkers to raise us up. The volunteers and workers raised us up in our time of need, and we will ensure they get the resources and the support they need.”
Numerous lawmakers applauded the move. “I would like to thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill and the 9/11 Task Force for all their hard work. Whether you were a first responder in a uniformed workforce or a volunteer at Ground Zero, this bill is a message to you that we will always take care of you and your contribution will never be forgotten,” Assemblyman Peter J. Abbate Jr. said.
9/11 advocate groups also praised Governor Cuomo’s actions. The Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics & Inspectors union at the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) President Israel Miranda said, “Governor Cuomo has taken a major step today for our members and others who suffered devastating health problems from working at Ground Zero. Today’s signing gives new hope to our members and their families that they may survive the devastating effects of 9/11. The Governor today, once again shows his tremendous knowledge and sensitivity to the issues faced by all of the heroes of the Trade Center attack.”
Many 9/11 responders and survivors continue to suffer from WTC-related injuries and health conditions and continue to be diagnosed with diseases and disorders related to the toxic cloud that remained following the terrorist attacks.