Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo officially signed State Senator Jim Gaughran’s bill that would provide disability benefit coverage for 9/11 first responders.
“September 11th was one of the darkest days in our nation’s history,” said Gaughran following the signing at the Javits Center. “An untold number of brave non-uniformed first responders rushed to Ground Zero to assist recovery and clean-up efforts. Now, they are suffering from serious illnesses and desperately need our help.”
Specifically, the bill will give civilian public employees who responded to the 9/11 attacks at Ground Zero expansive disability benefits and eliminates the disparity in coverage between uniformed and non-uniformed workers. Public workers, such as transit employees and civil engineers, are eligible for the same 75 percent disability benefit coverage as those they worked with in the post-9/11 cleanup.
“Non-uniformed first responders performed the same work as uniformed responders, working alongside each other for months during the cleanup and deserve the same protections and benefits,” said Gaughran. “I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this law to correct this loophole and give these heroes the dignity and help they deserve.”
The bill is estimated to help hundreds who are suffering from serious, terminal or debilitating medical conditions yet are not able to stop working due to the crippling medical costs the 9/11 attacks affected them with. The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman David Weprin in the state assembly.
“PEF [Public Employees Federation] is proud to support this law that corrects the injustice suffered by some state employees who were not given the same benefit as those with whom they worked alongside,” said PEF President Wayne Spence. “A person’s date of hire or bargaining unit should not determine the benefit they received for work they provided after the terrorist attacks. PEF thanks Senator Gaughran, Assemblyman Weprin for all their hard work and the governor