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The World Trade Center attack and workers’ compensation

Most Americans remember where we were on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. For New  Yorkers, the painful memory is more acute. And for those who lost loved ones that terrible day, the emotional and financial struggles are still going on.

Members of the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program, a program that provides medical monitoring and treatment, may receive benefits through two programs: The federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund administered by the Department of Justice or the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board. The latter permits workers and volunteers who performed rescue, recovery and clean-up of the WTC. New York passed legislation in September extending the deadline to register.

Recent case

A recent court case addressed how eligibility for death benefits works under New York’s laws for workers compensation.

A volunteer at the World Trade Center site after September 11, 2001 died in July 2016. His spouse filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits; she argued that the medical conditions he established in his claim under state law had caused his death. The Uninsured Employers’ Fund objected on the basis of two workers’ compensation laws.

In a decision that reversed the ruling of the Workers’ Compensation Board, the court analyzed the timeline of the spouse’s claim and her scope of eligibility. The spouse’s contention that the two-year statute of limitations did not apply failed because the law she cited contains an exception that protects only participants “in the rescue, recovery or cleanup.” Her status as claimant for death benefits exists as a separate legal claim.

The effects of September 11, 2001 linger for everyone, but most especially residents of New York City. Claims for workers’ compensation require involve reliving circumstances that may trigger difficult memories. Attorneys who understand the process can offer guidance.

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