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Public Employee Press

New law extends WTC Workers Comp deadline



Former DC 37 Health and Safety Dept. Director Lee Clarke applauds the reopening of Workers' Comp WTC Registry for 9/11 workers and volunteers.

In a victory for DC 37 members who rescued, recovered and cleaned up after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed new legislation that reopens the state Workers' Compensation Board's World Trade Center Registry, extends the deadline to Sept. 11, 2014, and broadens the covered health conditions.

"DC 37 applauds Governor Cuomo and the Legislature for doing what is right for city workers and volunteers," said Safety and Health Dept. Director Lee Clarke, who represents Executive Director Lillian Roberts on the 9/11 Worker Protection Task Force. Clarke advocated tirelessly to "reopen the window for members to inform their pension systems of their role in coping with the 9/11 disaster, so down the road they can file for an accidental disability pension if they become sick," she said.

Shortly after the attacks, no one foresaw the vast number of WTC-related illnesses, and the first deadlines prevented many from filing Workers' Comp claims, Clarke explained. The new law, which took effect in December, preserves the right to file for Workers' Comp should one become ill. The law covers workers who were assigned to or volunteered for rescue, recovery and restoration efforts at Ground Zero and other recovery sites, including the Fresh Kills Landfill and city piers and morgues.

It covers active, vested and retired DC 37 members in Tiers 1 and 2 of the Board of Education Retirement System (Locals 372 and 1251), vested members in the New York City Retirement System, and vested Emergency Medical Techs and Supervisors in Tiers 4 and 6 (Locals 2507 and 3621). The union is still negotiating to clarify which workers are eligible.

WTC workers and volunteers can register and preserve the right to file future Workers' Comp claims for WTC-related illnesses not previously recognized or covered. The broadened disease category includes respiratory, gastro-esophageal and psychological ills and new onset diseases that develop from WTC exposure.

The law mandates that the Workers' Comp Board review previous WTC claims that were disallowed as untimely. The governor directed the WCB to contact the filers of more than 41,000 claims submitted before the Sept 13, 2010 deadline.

"Workers who retired on service or ordinary disability may be reclassified as accidental disability, which pays a greater benefit," said DC 37 Safety and Health Dept. Principal Coordinator Guille Mejia.

For more information, call the the Safety and Health Dept.. — which will continue its outreach to WTC workers — at 212-815-1685, or the state WCB at 855-WTC-2014 or visit www.wcb.ny.gov/WTC12.

 
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