A retired police officer has won her five-year legal battle and will receive enhanced disability pension; she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and various other conditions after working at Ground Zero. She was represented by Jeffrey Goldberg, an attorney with the national law firm of Parker Waichman LLP. The firm has been actively fighting for the rights of 9/11 rescue workers and first responders for many years and has worked to ensure passage of the Zadroga Act.
New York Daily News reports that the police officer joined the force in 1998. After the September 11th attacks, she worked a security post at Ground Zero for two months; she suffered from dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea and chest pains. In 2002, she was diagnosed with having toxic levels of heavy metals, including cadmium, lead and mercury. She was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome and acid reflux. The Police Pension Fund argued that the disease was not caused by her exposure to the conditions of Ground Zero and a lower court ruling sided with the city. The Appellate Division in Manhattan, however, has overturned the lower court’s ruling.
The appellate judges found fibromyalgia to be a “new onset disease” and noted that the police officer did not have these conditions before working at the WTC site. New York Daily News reports that the burden fell on the city to prove that her conditions were not related working at Ground Zero but they failed to do this. The law allows first responders to receive accident disability pensions for musculoskeletal disease, the appellate judges stated. They found that the police pension fund’s medical board took a “narrow definition” of this. The judges also said that the police officer provided research studies showing that fibromyalgia is linked to heavy metal poisoning. The medical board, on the other hand, failed to cite any credible evidence when claiming that her conditions are unrelated to the conditions at Ground Zero.
The enhanced disability pension will provide three-quarters of her most recent salary and is untaxed while normal disability pension provides half salary and is taxed. The enhanced pension will provide an additional $2,400 a month to help the police officer support her family.