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Disabled 9/11 Responders at Risk of Losing Jobs

August 24, 2022 | Michael Barasch

Thousands of emergency medical responders were deployed to Lower Manhattan on 9/11 and in the weeks and months that followed, to help people injured in the attack and participate in search-and-rescue and recovery operations.

Yet even as these responders, members of FDNY EMS Local 2507 and DC 37 Local 3621, were saving lives, their own health and safety was threatened by toxins at Ground Zero.

Despite claims that the air was safe to breathe, we now know it was not. In fact, exposure to these toxins have been scientifically linked to 68 types of 9/11-related cancers and many respiratory illnesses.

Now, more than 20 years after 9/11, dozens of emergency medical responders who were disabled as a result of their 9/11-related illnesses are tragically at risk of losing their jobs.

While New York State lawmakers passed a law guaranteeing an “unlimited” sick time for 9/11 responders, at least a dozen members of the FDNY EMS have already been dropped off the payroll after a year while they wait for their permanent disability to be approved by the New York City Employee Retirement System (NYCERS).

NYCERS has actually denied many of these responders a three-fourths disability pension. As a consequence, these 9/11 WTC heroes, will often have to hire a lawyer to seek relief in the courts.

Caught between state and city policies, disabled responders are threatened with the total loss of financial security while struggling with chronic health conditions. 

With the leadership and members of FDNY EMS Local 2507 and DC 37 Local 3621, Barasch & McGarry has advocated for the state and city to collaborate in support of 9/11 emergency medical responders.

We must also inform 9/11 responders and survivors (people who were working, living, and studying in Lower Manhattan on and after 9/11) about the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)

The health program provides free, comprehensive medical care to 9/11 victims for their 9/11-related illnesses. The fund offers tax-free awards for pain and suffering, lost earnings, and benefits for surviving spouses and family members.

The victim fund offers tax-free awards for pain and suffering, lost earnings, and benefits for surviving spouses and family members.

There are still many responders and survivors who have not yet registered or enrolled.

If you were there, you have the right to register with the 9/11 VCF – even if currently healthy – and enroll in the WTC Health Program if you are diagnosed with the 9/11-related illness.

For the WTC Health Program, the exposure zone includes all of Manhattan below Houston Street and parts of Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO in Brooklyn.

For the 9/11 VCF, the exposure zone is smaller – it includes the area of Manhattan south of Canal Street and west of Clinton Street.

Barasch & McGarry, Lawyers for the 9/11 Community, which represents more than 30,000 members of the 9/11 community, has proudly advocated for union members for more than twenty-five years.

If you were exposed to Ground Zero toxins, you should know your health status. Don’t let a delayed diagnosis become a death sentence.

Visit or call 800-314-0683 today.

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