Urges 9/11 Vols To Protect Workers' Comp Benefits
Anyone who worked at the World Trade Center rescue, recovery or cleanup efforts on or after the 9/11 attacks should register with the state Workers' Compensation Board before August 14 to preserve their right to file a claim with the board, should they develop a 9/11-related illness in the future.
That advice comes from state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, who said that among those who are eligible to register with the Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) is anyone who volunteered to work at Ground Zero between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 12, 2002 either in Lower Manhattan, on the barge operation between lower Manhattan and Staten Island, at the Staten Island landfill or at the New York City morgue.
"Even healthy persons who are presently symptom-free should register," Stavisky (D- Flushing) said. "It is possible that 9/11 health problems won't emerge until many years after the horrific attacks. If you don't enroll with Workers' Compensation by August 14, though, you will never be able to file a 9/11-related claim."
And, the lawmaker added, a worker or volunteer whose Workers' Compensation claim was previously rejected because he or she missed the original filing deadline to apply should register and re-file a new claim.
Stavisky stated: "No one knows how many people who did cleanup work will eventually develop debilitating illness in the future. By registering with Workers' Compensation now, the brave men and women who put their lives on the line will have the security of knowing they can, if need be, apply for medical and wage replacement benefits. Surely that's the very least we can do."
Stavisky explained, "Last year, New York State extended the deadline for workers and volunteers exposed to contaminated dust and smoke to file compensation claims. I recently learned that only 4,000 of the estimated 100,000 eligible individuals have filed. Whether you are sick or not, registering with the Board guarantees your right to file a claim in the future."
Stavisky added that if a claim is approved, Workers' Compensation will pay 100 percent of all medical expenses for work-related illnesses as well as mental conditions such as depression, anxiety or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The lawmaker added that the WCB also pays two-thirds of an average weekly wage up to $400 a week if a worker cannot work due to 9/11-related sickness or injury.
Stavisky said those seeking additional information or eligibility requirements can call the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health hotline at 1- 866-WTC-2556. Information in English and Spanish- as well as the necessary forms to file-can be found at the NYCOSH Web site at www.nycosh.org.
- John Toscano