On July 7, 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill extending the Sept. 11th Worker Protection Task Force for another five years. Sponsors of the legislation cited the positive role of the Task Force in helping those afflicted with disabilities after working at the World Trade Center in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attack. The Task Force remains necessary because responders and municipal workers continue to develop a variety of 9/11-related illnesses.
The State created the 19 member Task Force in 2005 as part of the World Trade Center disability law which amended the New York State Retirement and Social Security Law and the New York City Administrative Code. As a result, any public employee who suffered an injury or illness directly related to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 is presumptively eligible for an accidental disability.
The Task Force was assigned numerous duties relating to workers who participated in the World Trade Center rescue, recovery and cleanup:
- To obtain data on the prevalence and incidence of illness and disability among workers from the department of health and the New York City department of health
- To assess the nature, scope and magnitude of the health impacts caused by post-9/11 exposure
- To measure the adverse health effects of exposure on workers
- To examine existing laws, regulations, programs and services for workers, and make recommendations
- To receive and to consider reports and testimony about the diagnosis, care and treatment of workers
- To identify federal funding sources to assist state and local governments in paying costs associated with disability benefits
Legislation signed in September of 2010 renewed the law, extended it to 2015, and expanded the composition of the Task Force to 20 members, including the medical director of the Mount Sinai Irving J. Selikoff Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine. This year’s extension means that the Task Force will serve until 2020, one year shy of the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
As attorneys actively engaged in helping 9/11 victims secure benefits and compensation, we are delighted that the Task Force will continue to operate. If you have questions about your eligibility for 9/11 benefits, call Barasch & McGarry today at [ln::phone] or contact our office online to schedule a free consultation.