In marking the 19th anniversary of 9/11, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday signed legislation that give a task force formed to examine adverse health data related to workers who took part in rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center another five years to continue their work.
Formed in 2005, the September 11 Workers Protection Task Force was formed to identify limitations of existing programs for disabilities of Ground Zero workers and make recommendations to improve access and scope of these programs.
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 another five years through June 2025.
"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."
In addition, the legislation signed by Cuomo 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; appeals processes and opportunities to synchronize benefits and identify individuals who participated in the 9/11 response.