Queens, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed Senator James Gaughran and Assemblymember David I. Weprins bill S5898D/ A8278C guaranteeing civilian public employees who aided in 9/11 recovery efforts the same 75% disability benefit coverage as uniformed responders. The bill eliminates a previously unjust disparity in coverage and will impact hundreds to thousands of employees suffering from debilitating illnesses. The signing took place at the Governors 7th annual 9/11 motorcycle ride and ceremony in the Jacob K. Javitz Center.
It took 9 months to clean up Ground Zero site in Lower Manhattan and nearly 2 million tons of debris was removed. In the years after 9/11, recovery workers found themselves afflicted with respiratory diseases, cancers, and other illnesses due to their exposure to known toxins including: dioxin, PCBs, asbestos, and pulverized cement fiberglass and steel, at the Ground Zero. Previously, if these workers were unable to work due to an illness, they would only be able to receive a 1/3 disability benefit resulting in extreme hardships for them and their families.
Our brave public employees responded to the tragedy on 9/11 and put their own lives at risk to help their fellow New Yorkers. This bill ensures that our state will take care of these workers just like they took care of us 18 years ago by granting them the full 75% disability benefit that they deserve, said Assemblyman David I. Weprin. I thank Governor Andrew M. Cuomo for being a strong advocate for the victims of the 9/11 attacks and signing lifesaving bill on this infamous day in our history.
"9/11 was not 18 years ago - 9/11 is every day. We honor, we remember and we reflect, but it's also our duty to act," said Governor Cuomo. "The 100,000 brave men and women who showed up to help on 9/11 deserve to be taken care of the way they took care of us, and we're not going to leave them alone because they are American heroes. Today, we took action to help ensure they get the health benefits and pension benefits they deserve. We honor them, we honor their families and we honor their courage - and we will repay the debt we owe them the best we can."