Golden Bill To Aid World Trade Center Rescue And Relief Workers Becomes New York State Law

Martin J. Golden

August 15, 2006

Brooklyn- State Senator Martin Golden (R-C, Brooklyn) today is commending Governor George E. Pataki for his signing into law S.8348, sponsored by Golden, that amends the workers’ compensation law for claims of individuals involved in the rescue, recovery and clean-up following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center.

Senator Golden stated, "I applaud Governor George Pataki for signing into law such a crucial piece of legislation. As we approach the 5th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, we have not abandoned the heroes who were the ones who led the rescue, the recovery and the clean-up. The men and women who were at Ground Zero in the days, weeks and months after the morning of September 11, 2001, need our help, and today, we have given them the chance to receive the necessary assistance."

Senator Golden continued, "In the case of participants in the World Trade Center rescue, recovery or cleanup operations, little is known about what disease and conditions might develop later on based on their exposure to uniquely hazardous conditions so as to recognize them as occupational diseases. For that reason, this legislation was necessary so that we did not turn our back on our rescue, recovery and clean-up workers. We did not leave them stranded, to face life with an illness because of their work at Ground Zero, without any hope or opportunity for them and their families to survive."

S.8348 erases the 2-year deadline for certain claims by directing the Workers’ Compensation Board to apply the standards of "Occupational Diseases" for claimants who have developed illnesses over time as a result of their services during rescue, recovery and clean-up operations following the September 11th attacks. There is no statute of limitations for claims submitted by individuals who volunteered at the World Trade Center site or the Staten Island Landfill as those benefits are paid through the federal grants.

The new law eases the 2-year statue of limitations for those individuals who became ill after the deadline had passed by designating these claims as "occupational illnesses." It further enables claimants whose illnesses developed over time, and whose claims were previously rejected due to the statutory deadline, to seek reconsideration by reopening his or her claim.

Senator Golden concluded, "These brave men and women brought back to New York and to the world a sense of pride and did the most noble of things. For us to help them get their lives back on track, is the very least we can do for people who were the very best in the very worst of times."