A retired police officer from New York has been battling for five years to receive an enhanced disability pension to help treat his fibromyalgia, which she developed after long-term exposure to a variety of toxins at Ground Zero after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Now, the Appellate Division in Manhattan has finally ruled that fibromyalgia qualifies as a “new onset” disease, and that she is indeed eligible for the pension.
The decision also means that anyone who has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia after serving at Ground Zero will be entitled to receive a tax-free accident disability pension, except in cases where officials are able to prove that the diagnosis was not related to their work at the site.
Fibromyalgia is a type of disorder that involves such symptoms as muscle pain, memory loss, mood swings and fatigue. The officer, 41-year-old Annmarie Sheldon, joined the police force in 1998 and worked security at Ground Zero for approximately two months after the terrorist attack. As a result of breathing the toxic dust, she developed shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea and chest pains. In 2002, she was diagnosed with a variety of medical conditions, including fibromyalgia. Judges in the appellate court noted that she had never demonstrated any of these conditions before she worked at the World Trade Center site.
The decision by the appellate court means that she will receive $2,400 more per month to help support her family.
If you or someone close to you has a health condition that was directly caused by working at or living near Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks, speak with a knowledgeable New York attorney at Barasch, McGarry, Salzman & Penson right away.