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Medical Responders with 9/11-Related Illnesses Struggle to Obtain Disability Pensions

More than 16 years after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, responders are still becoming ill as a result of the poisons released at Ground Zero. These illnesses, from asthma and GERD to 68 types of deadly cancers, have forced many responders to take early retirement. But, as the New York Post recently reported, different pension programs govern retirement for different classes of responders, so while FDNY firefighters are being protected, medical responders who work for FDNY, who responded to the same scene, and who faced the same perils, are having extreme difficulty obtaining a fair outcome.

When a work-related illness forces an FDNY firefighter into retirement, the FDNY pension fund pays three-quarters of the firefighter’s salary. The average disability pension for an FDNY member is $75,043 versus the average regular service pension of $44,659. On top of that, the income from the disability pension is tax free. The extra income is vitally important to these firefighters and their families, whose future is terribly uncertain. Fortunately, the FDNY Pension Fund has been receptive to firefighters’ claims of 9/11-related disability.

Not so for the paramedics and EMTs employed by the FDNY. The New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS) manages their pension plan and has rejected 9/11-related disability claims at a much higher rate than the FDNY Pension Fund. As the Post reports, NYCERS rejected 56 of 116 disability claims from EMTs and paramedics last year.

Sen. Martin Golden of Brooklyn is questioning the disparity between the two systems. But NYCERS has had no comment on the issue. According to general counsel Ilyse Sisolak, “NYCERS has no comment because it is confidential, since the inquiry pertains to medical conditions of its members.”

At Barasch & McGarry, our 9/11 benefits attorneys believe all individuals impacted by 9/11 deserve a fair hearing on their claims. Medical responders who were exposed to the same toxins and who witnessed the same carnage as firefighters are not significantly less likely to have developed disabling conditions such as asthma, GERD, PTSD, and cancer.

In our practice, we are seeing the impact of 9/11 diseases expand rather than contract. We are representing more and more office workers, residents, teachers, and students struggling with disabling and potentially deadly diseases. And we are seeing the emergence of diseases with long latency periods, such as mesothelioma.

Barasch & McGarry would like medical responders to know that help is also available through the WTC Victim Compensation Fund. Even if NYCERS denies your disability claim, you may be able to get compensation and health services from the VCF.

For a free consultation with a lawyer who understands your situation and the law, please contact us online or call 888-351-9421.

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  • "Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson handled everything professionally and with patience. They always had time to answer all my questions and did what they promised. Thanks esp to Brian Calamaris Lee London, and Mariya Atanasova. Thank you." - William Collins, FDNY

  • "If I could give them six stars I would...don't even bother talking to anyone else concerning 9/11. The whole team worked night and day to deliver an outstanding settlement. They are honest, hard working and extremely professional. Just make the one phone call and let them do the rest." - Les Margulis, resident in the exposure zone

  • "I had a very good experience with Michael and Mariya. They made the process stress free. I would recommend this firm to anyone seeking assistance with 9/11 related illnesses." - JE Kirwan, worked in the exposure zone

  • "The people at this firm were just great. They were concern with making sure I was taken care of in every way possible. When I was given an award Mr. Barasch didn't think it was a fair amount and appealed the decision which got me a larger award. I am very satisfied with everything they did for me in the past and are willing to do for me and my family in the future." - Bob Wiecezak, FDNY-Retired

  • "Excellent law firm. Lee London and his staff were very responsive and always followed up with phone calls or emails. This firm is a strong example of what caring and personable lawyers are all about." - Letitia Egan, wife of client, volunteer in the exposure zone

  • Deadline Extended to Register for Compensation

    There is still time to apply for significant compensation if you have been diagnosed with any of the 68 cancers that doctors at the WTC Health Program (WTCHP) have linked to the WTC toxic dust. The deadline to apply to the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) is two years from the date that a cancer has been certified by the WTC Health Program — or any other governmental agency. The two-year period to register doesn’t start on the day of a cancer diagnosis. Rather, it starts only when a cancer survivor is made aware their cancer was linked to exposure to the WTC toxins.

    For those who died from their WTC-linked cancers, the two-year period for their family to register starts on the day of the death of the WTC victim.

    Register For Compensation

Please help spread the word about the strict two-year deadline to register a claim

Many people have tried to complete the VCF application on their own, only to learn that it requires answers to hundreds of questions and many documents to download. It would be our pleasure to help you complete the process in order to ensure that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to. Please call us for a free consultation.

Let a knowledgeable attorney help you figure it out

A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying. You undoubtedly have questions about your disease and how you will pay for treatment. Lawyers at Barasch & McGarry ensure you understand the complex requirements and help devise the best strategies for obtaining compensation and appropriate medical care under the Zadroga Act. Contact our law firm online or call 888-351-9421. The initial consultation is free, so it costs you nothing to find out whether a lawyer can help.
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