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Workers with recently manifested conditions may file claims until Sept. 11, 2018
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On the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law that will extend the registration and health-claim submission period for workers and volunteers who participated in World Trade Center (WTC) and other related rescue, recovery and clean-up operations.
The extension gives workers until Sept. 11, 2018, to register under the WTC Disability Law and seek lost wages and medical benefits for illnesses that resulted from their participation. Covered benefits include workers' compensation, disability and accidental death benefits.
"Though Sept. 11 may feel like an eternity ago, we still feel the pain and the loss like it was yesterday, and the thousands of brave men and women who stepped up in our darkest hour are still grappling with the aftereffects," Cuomo said in a press statement.
Latent Medical Conditions
"The WTC Disability Law was originally enacted to supersede the two year claim-submission requirement for workers' compensation or disability claims generally," explained Richard Schwartz, an attorney with Seyfarth Shaw in New York City.
"This law originally took effect in 2005 and has since been amended several times to extend the deadline for providing notice of having performed covered rescue, recovery or clean-up operations at the WTC site and certain other sites involved in the clean-up efforts," Schwartz said.
The most recent amendment requires that individuals whose disablement occurred between Sept. 11, 2012, and Sept. 11, 2015, file a disability claim no later than Sept. 11, 2018.
"The continued extensions have become necessary as many of the related medical conditions may remain latent for many years following the initial exposure," Schwartz noted.
"The impact on employers who are required to contribute toward NYS workers compensation benefits is expected to be deminimus, as legislators believe most disabilities related to the WTC attacks have already been reported," he added.
The WTC Disability Law covers respiratory, psychological and skin diseases, as well as other illnesses such as cancer, pulmonary disease, asbestos-related ailments and heavy metal poisoning.
Zadroga Act Coverage
Cuomo encouraged responders to use the WTC Health Program, which is administered by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and provides services that are available through clinics in New York City and a nationwide provider network.
The program was set up under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which allocated about $4.2 billion to treat and monitor the health of rescue and recovery workers. The act also covers the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund.
It is named after James Zadroga, a New York City Police Department officer who participated in rescue and recovery efforts and died in 2006 from a respiratory disease.
Shortly after the Zadroga Act expired in October 2015, the federal government extended its coverage for another 75 years.
"None of us understood the extent of the dangerous conditions working men and women were exposed to during the aftermath of Sept. 11," said New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento. "Many symptoms of those illnesses are only now starting to manifest themselves."
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