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New York laws protect 9/11 first responders, workers

September 11, 2019 06:15 pm Updated: September 11, 2019 09:18 pm

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed four bills into law Wednesday that provide aid and protections for health issues first responders faced in the aftermath of 9/11.

One bill grants unlimited sick leave to New York City officers and employees who suffer from an illness caused by the attacks. Another bill, the Five-Year Lookback, gives city firefighters access to Accidental Disability Retirement pensions if they were diagnosed with cancers within five years of retirement, with the assumption that the cancer was caused by their 9/11 duties.

A third bill will target delays in disability claims related to the 9/11 attacks by allowing for an increased number of physicians appointed to the medical board of the New York City employees’ retirement system.

Lastly, with the Accidental Death Benefit bill, family members will be given an extended period of time to file for accidental death benefits if their loved one died from a World Trade Center condition.

All four bills were sponsored by by State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, D-22.

“For many first responders who ran into the rubble on 9/11, the ramifications continue to this day,” Gounardes said in a press release. “With the passage of these bills, we are helping to ensure that our 9/11 first responders get the benefits they deserve and are owed.”

At least 10,000 first responders and civilians near the World Trade Center have been diagnosed with cancer since 9/11, and at least 2,000 have died.

“Anyone who showed up to help on 9/11… they deserve us to be there for them the way they were there for us,” Cuomo said at a 9/11 ceremony Wednesday. “They’re going to get their health benefits and their pension benefits, and we’re not going to leave them alone because they are also American heroes.”