Assemblyman Kenneth P. Zebrowski voted today for legislation (Bill A.9489) to increase employees’ workers’ compensation benefits for those private, voluntary hospital employees, paramedics and EMTs who responded to the 9/11 tragedy. The bill provides parity with the coverage public employee first responders receive under the Retirement and Social Security Law’s disability pension benefit.
In 2005, the Legislature passed a measure providing for a 75-percent-of-salary disability pension benefit for public employee Ground Zero first responders. That legislation didn’t provide similar relief to the emergency medical technicians and paramedic first responders employed by and dispatched from private voluntary hospitals near Ground Zero.
Today’s actions mean that private, voluntary hospital workers would receive workers’ compensation disability and death benefits of 75 percent of their wages instead of the current 66 2/3 percent Workers’ Compensation Law guideline, matching the percentage public employee first responders receive under their disability pension benefit.
“Considering the way these workers were relied upon during the 9/11 tragedy, and the way they handled the pressures of the emergency, it is only fair that their workers’ compensation benefits be increased to provide the financial assistance they need,” said Assemblyman Zebrowski.
Assemblyman Zebrowski added that the bipartisan bill addresses concerns raised in 2005 and 2006 in proposals to expand these benefits. In addition, a federal re-appropriation of the $125 million will provide increased workers’ compensation.
“Considering that a great many of these affected 9/11 workers are from Rockland County, I was particularly pleased to be able to support this relief for them.”
The vote continues the Legislature and Governor’s efforts to improve benefits and due process for victims who participated in the rescue operation activities of the 9/11 tragedy. Toward this end, recently the workers’ compensation registration deadline for 9/11 personnel was extended to August 14, 2008.