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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Governor Patterson Signs Legislation Extending Benefits for 911 Workers

New York State workers’ compensation benefits have been expanded for 911 workers as a result legislation signed Governor Patterson. Under the prior law the registration period would have closed in August 208. The date has been extended to September 10, 2010.

The definitions in this bill expand the scope of a "qualifying WTC condition" under the Accidental Diability Law to include:

(1) members who did not undergo apre-employment physical examination, but who provide access to medical records which demonstrate the absence of a qualifying condition priorto September 11, 2001;

(2) 911 dispatchers who worked on September 11, 2001 and suffered psychological injury;

(3) members who worked for any period of time within the first 48 hours after the first airplane hit the WTC; and

(4) members who repaired, cleaned or rehabilitated vehicles or equipment, including emergency vehicle radio equipment owned by New York City ("NYC") that was contaminated by debris from the WTC site.

Sections 18, 19 and 20 of the bill amend Workers` Compensation Law("WCL") SS 162, 164 and 168 to allow claimants to file a sworn statement indicating the dates and locations of their participation inthe rescue, recovery and clean-up operations until September 10, 2010,with the date of disablement being determined as the date mostbeneficial to the claimant. Claims for disablements occurring between September 1, 2003 and September 11, 2008 will not be time barred. The time period was to have expired on August 14, 2008.

“We have a profound responsibility to provide those who participated in the rescue, recovery and clean-up efforts in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 with the benefits they deserve,” said Governor Paterson. “It is imperative that we continue to provide those workers who face health consequences from their work at Ground Zero with the very best care and the opportunity to apply for disability benefits.”

“We also have a responsibility to better protect patients in New York. Strengthening the disciplinary system for physicians and giving the public more information, combined with enhancing infection control measures, is vital to the safety of all of our citizens,” added Paterson.

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