Albany, NY - This week, Assembly Bill A10499 (Niou), which assists individuals who participated in World Trade Center rescue, recovery or clean-up operations, passed the Assembly. In previous years, this legislation has passed the Assembly, but this year it passed with Assemblymember Niou as the main sponsor of the bill.
Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou said: The attacks on September 11, 2001 left a profound scar on Lower Manhattan and all of New York. In the weeks, months, and years after the attacks, Lower Manhattan remained hopeful, banding together to rebuild. This community has overcome one of the greatest tragedies in American history, but many of the brave individuals who helped us recover -- the first responders and rescue workers -- are now battling illnesses and burgeoning life-threatening diseases caused by exposure to the toxic dust and fumes at Ground Zero. Some rescue workers are also grappling with the psychological impacts such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression.
Although it has been 17 years since the attacks, some rescue workers are only now feeling the effects. The onset and progression of some of the diseases resulting from exposure occur at a slower rate than others, and it is critical that we keep this in mind when it comes to policies designed to help these individuals and their families. This legislation will give rescue, recovery, and clean-up workers the opportunity to receive the benefits they deserve.
Specifically, this bill will extend the time an individual has to file a notice of participation to begin receiving benefits to 2022. Second, if an individual applied from the 2015-2017 period and was disallowed benefits, their claim will be reconsidered. Thank you to my colleagues for supporting this bill and our brave first responders.
"I applaud Assembly member Niou for her leadership on behalf of 911 rescue workers who sacrificed so much in helping Lower Manhattan recover and rebuild," said Catherine McVay Hughes, a longtime resident and 9/11 healthcare advocate.
Kimberly Flynn, Director of 9/11 Environmental Action said: "There is no deadline for the emergence of 9/11-related health problems for the people exposed to this unprecedented disaster. So any deadline for responders to access benefits for their 9/11 mental or physical health impacts must be extended. Responders, including the cleanup workers exposed to toxins as they cleaned many of Lower Manhattan's high rises, got the city back working again. New York owes them access to benefits as their needs arise."
This legislation, sponsored by Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, will ensure that the brave responders and rescue workers will receive the care that they need, said Charlene Obernauer, Executive Director, New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH). Medical conditions resulting from exposure to toxins after 9/11 are continuing to emerge in this population, and extending the deadline of 9/11 heroes to apply to receive benefits is crucial.