Legislation extends task force through June 2025, expands purview to analyze processing time for disability claims, lack of disability coverage for public employees, and opportunities to identify individuals who participated in 9/11 response
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday signed legislation (S08129/A10249) reconstituting the September 11 Workers Protection Task Force. Formed in 2005, the task force was created to obtain data regarding adverse health effects on workers who participated in rescue, recovery and response at the World Trade Center, identify limitations of existing programs for disabilities of such workers, and make recommendations to improve access and scope of these programs.
"These brave men and women selflessly put their health and safety at risk to help New York recover in the aftermath of 9/11 and they deserve to be taken care of the way they took care of us," Cuomo said. "This measure will help ensure they continue to receive the care they need and that New York is able to act to meet their evolving needs."
The task force has studied and issued reports regarding health impacts of exposure to toxins at Ground Zero, the limitations of existing laws and regulations for accidental disability retirement benefits and potential federal funding to assist the state with costs. The legislation extends the existence of the task force for five years through June 2025.
It additionally expands the required purview of the task force to include analysis of average processing times for disability claims, notices of approval rates for claims, lack of disability coverage for public employees who participated in response but were not members of a retirement system at the time; and appeals processes and opportunities to synchronize benefits and identify individuals who participated in the 9/11 response.
State Sen. Andrew Gounardes said, "Nearly two decades after the 9/11 attack, our first responders are still dealing with the effects. Thousands have been diagnosed with 9/11-related cancers and diseases. When we say 'never forget,' we must also mean never leave behind those who were our heroes on that terrible day and all the days after. This bill will allow us to continue to ensure those workers and responders have the benefits and health care they need and deserve, and I want to thank Gov. Cuomo for signing my bill today."
Assembly member Stacey Pheffer Amato said, "We will never forget September 11th, 2001, and that's why our work never stops to protect those who continue to be impacted by the events of that day. The September 11th Worker Protection Task Force will better protect and serve the men and women, and their families, who have sacrificed so much for our city. I want to thank Gov. Cuomo for his leadership in the fight to support all 9/11 first responders, and I want to thank Sen. Andrew Gounardes for his partnership in helping pass this bill in the State Senate."