Assemblymember Cahill Votes to Increase Workers Compensation Benefits for 9/11 Health Care Workers

October 23, 2007

In a move to address health problems faced by private, voluntary hospital employees, paramedics and EMTs who responded to the 9/11 tragedy, Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D–Ulster and Dutchess) voted to increase private employees workers compensation benefits (A.9489). The vote will provide parity with the coverage public employee first responders receive under the Retirement and Social Security Law disability pension benefit.

“By increasing workers compensation benefits for privately employed medical workers, we are taking the right step to provide the financial assistance needed,” Mr. Cahill said. “We counted on them during a time of enormous crisis and ensuring the benefits they deserve from this terrorist tragedy is one way we can repay the debt.”

In 2005, the Legislature passed a measure providing for a 75 percent of salary disability pension benefit for public employee Ground Zero first responders. The proposal 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 action means 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.

Assemblymember Cahill added that the bipartisan bill addresses concerns raised in 2005 and 2006 in proposals to expand these benefits. In addition, a federal reappropriation of $125 million will provide increased workers’ compensation.

“Our 9/11 heroes deserve to be justly compensated and this legislation recognizes our responsibility to those who sacrificed their health and their lives to help others,” he concluded.

The vote continues the ongoing efforts since 2001 by the Legislature and the Governor to improve benefits and due process for victims who participated in the rescue operation activities of the 9/11 tragedy. Recently, the Governor extended the workers compensation deadline to apply for benefits for one year, until August 14, 2008, giving claimants needed time to file.