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WTC Notice of Participation deadline may be extended for the third time if Governor Andrew Cuomo signs recently passed legislation into law. Governor Cuomo has been a vocal proponent of government benefits and rights for 9/11 responders. Responders must file a WTC Notice of Participation in order to preserve potential workers’ compensation benefits.

An important piece of legislation, S7797/A10499, aimed at helping those that participated in World Trade Center rescue, recovery, or clean-up operations, has passed. In addition to Senator Golden, primary sponsor of Senate Bill  S7797, and Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, primary sponsor of Assembly BIll A10499, S7797 was co-sponsored by Senators Alcantara, Avella, Larkin, Peralta, and Sepulveda and  A10499 was co-sponsored by Assemblymembers Abbate, Brindisi, Pheffer Amato, Rosenthal, Weprin, Pellegrino, and Arroyo

The legislation, also known as the 9/11 Health Bill, if signed into law, would extend the time an individual has to file a WTC Notice of Participation to begin receiving benefits to September 11, 2022. This also provides individuals who applied and were denied benefits between September 11, 2015 and September 11, 2017  the opportunity to have their claims reconsidered. Initially, individuals who participated in the World Trade Center rescue, recovery, or clean-up operations had until September 11, 2010 to file a notice of participation. This would be the third extension of the deadline.

A 9/11 responder must file a WTC Notice of Participation to claim for workers’ compensation benefits related to an injury sustained as s a result of 9/11. The WTC Notice of Participation form requirement is mandated by Section 163 of  New York State Worker’s Compensation Law Article 8-A of as follows:

Registration of participation in World Trade Center rescue, recovery and clean-up operations. In order for the claim of a participant in World Trade Center rescue, recovery and clean-up operations to come within the application of this article, such participant must file a written and sworn statement with the board on a form promulgated by the chair indicating the dates and locations of such participation and the name of such participant’s employer during the period of participation. Such statement must be filed not later than September eleventh, two thousand eighteen. The board shall transmit a copy of such statement to the employer or carrier named therein. The filing of such a statement shall not be considered the filing of a claim for benefits under this chapter.

The Workers’ Compensation Board has provided the following background and guidance for filing a WTC Notice of Participation:

1. On August 14, 2006, Workers’ Compensation Law (WCL) Article 8-A was enacted to expand the time for a “participant” in World Trade Center rescue, recovery and/or clean-up operations who suffers, or may suffer in the future, from a “qualifying condition” to file a claim for workers’ compensation lost wage and medical benefits and to permit the Board to reopen such claims previously denied as untimely. Article 8-A was recently amended to change the definition of “qualifying condition” and to extend the registration deadline.

2. A “Participant in World Trade Center rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations” (referred to as “participant”) is defined in WCL §161(1) as any: (a) employee who within the course of employment, or (b) volunteer upon presentation to the Board of evidence satisfactory to the Board that he or she: (i) participated in the rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations at the World Trade Center site between September 11, 2001 and September 12, 2002, or (ii) worked at the Fresh Kills Land Fill in New York City between September 11, 2001 and September 12, 2002, or (iii) worked at the New York City morgue or the temporary morgue on pier locations on the west side of Manhattan between September 11, 2001 and September 12, 2002, or (iv) worked on the barges between the west side of Manhattan and the Fresh Kills Land Fill in New York City between September 11, 2001 and September 12, 2002.

3. “World Trade Center site” is defined as “anywhere below a line starting from the Hudson River and Canal Street; east on Canal Street to Pike Street; south on Pike Street to the East River; and extending to the lower tip of Manhattan.”

4. A “qualifying condition” is defined as “any of the following diseases or condition resulting from a hazardous exposure during participation in World Trade Center rescue, recovery or clean-up operations: (a) Diseases of the upper respiratory tract and mucosae, including conditions such as conjunctivitis, rhinitis, sinusitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, vocal cord disease, upper airway hyper-reactivity and trachea-bronchitis, or a combination of such conditions; (b) Diseases of the lower respiratory tract, including but not limited to bronchitis, asthma, reactive airway dysfunction syndrome, and different types of pneumonitis, such as hypersensitivity, granulomatous, or eosinophilic; (c) Diseases of the gastroesophageal tract, including esophagitis and reflux disease, either acute or chronic, caused by exposure or aggravated by exposure; (d) Diseases of the psychological axis, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, or any combination of such conditions; or (e) New onset diseases resulting from exposure as such diseases occur in the future including cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asbestos-related disease, heavy metal poisoning, musculoskeletal disease and chronic psychological disease.

within the application of Article 8-A of the Workers’ Compensation Law, the participant is required to register with the Workers’ Compensation Board (“Board”). The registration form (WTC-12) must be filed not later than September 11, 2018.

6. To register, this Sworn Statement must be accurately and truthfully completed and the original filed with the Board District Office or Downstate Central Mailing Center (see addresses below) not later than September 11, 2018.5. In order for the claim of a participant in World Trade Center rescue, recovery or cleanup operations to come

As stated above, the current deadline is September 11, 2018. If Governor Cuomo signs the legislation into law, then 9/11 rescue and recovery responders will have until September 11, 2022 to file a WTC Notice of Participation with the Workers’ Compensation Board.

Senator Marty Golden commented “this critical legislation extends the period for our 9/11 first responders who have not yet filed a notice of participation to do so. It also allows for 9/11 first responders who became disabled between September 11, 2015 and September 11, 2017 to file a claim before September 11, 2022. Additionally, this legislation allows for those who had their applications denied to have that application reconsidered. Our first responder heroes of 9/11 deserve assistance in getting any benefit for which they are entitled. Never forget!”

Assemblymember Niou commented “the attacks on September 11, 2001 left a profound scar on Lower Manhattan and all of New York. In the weeks, months, and years after the attacks, Lower Manhattan remained hopeful, banding together to rebuild. This community has overcome one of the greatest tragedies in American history, but many of the brave individuals who helped us recover – the first responders and rescue workers — are now battling illnesses and burgeoning life-threatening diseases caused by exposure to the toxic dust and fumes at Ground Zero. Some rescue workers are also grappling with the psychological impacts such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression.”

Due to the fact that some diseases progress more slowly than others, some responders and rescue workers may only now be seeing the effects of their exposure to the toxic dust, debris, and fumes that blanketed Lower Manhattan in the months after 9/11.

Kimberly Flynn, director of 9/11 Environmental Action said, “There is no deadline for the emergence of 9/11-related health problems for people exposed to this unprecedented disaster. So any deadline for responders to access benefits for their 9/11 mental or physical health impacts must be extended.”

Responders and rescue workers may not yet be fully aware of the effects their exposure to the toxins released in Lower Manhattan may have had on their long-term health.

“Although it has been 17 years since the attacks, some rescue workers are only now feeling the effects. The onset and progression of some of the diseases resulting from exposure occur at a slower rate than others, and it is critical that we keep this in mind when it comes to policies designed to help these individuals and their families. This legislation will give rescue, recovery, and clean-up workers the opportunity to receive the benefits they deserve,” said Assemblymember Niou.

Eligible claimants for 9/11 disability and workers’ compensation and benefits include volunteers and workers who participated in rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations during the first 48 hours after the first airplane crash or a total of 40 hours between September 11, 2001 and September 12, 2002, at the following locations:

  • The World Trade Center site (defined as the area below a line starting from the Hudson River and Canal Street bearing east on Canal Street to Pike Street, continuing south on Pike Street to the East River; and extending to the lower tip of Manhattan)
  • The New York City (NYC) morgue or any temporary morgue
  • The Fresh Kills Landfill
  • On the barges that ran between Manhattan and the Fresh Kills Landfill

Claimants who qualify for 9/11 workers’ compensation and disability benefits may also be eligible for federal benefits under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

For more information, contact Pitta & Baione LLP at 844-WTC-COMP or info@pittabaione.com.

This blog post was co-authored by Benjamin Ackert

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