Photo Courtesy of the Office of the Governor
The governor congratulates Sen. Addabbo, whose bill establishing a September 11th Remembrance Day Cuomo recently signed into law.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Last Wednesday, a group of borough elected officials marked the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States by joining Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Manhattan as he signed six bills—on Empire State first responders, that fateful Tuesday morning, and its harrowing aftermath—into law.
“The 100,000 brave men and women who showed up to help on 9/11 deserve to be taken care of the way they took care of us, and we’re not going to leave them alone because they are American heroes,” the governor said at the 7th Annual 9/11 Motorcycle Ride and ceremony in Manhattan.
The package of measures that are now officially on New York’s books include laws that:
- Make it easier for volunteers at the World Trade Center site who now work for the State to file claims for sick leave by providing a process for public authorities and municipal corporations outside of the five boroughs to obtain reimbursement for line-of-duty sick leave granted to their employees and allowing certain municipalities and authorities to use sick leave for qualifying World Trade Center conditions. This bill also provides protection to employees while on leave and establishes greater review and oversight of claims processing by State and local governments.
- Increase the number of physicians authorized to evaluate members of the New York City Employee Retirement System applying for a disability pension. This allows NYCERS to acquire a pool of physicians with the necessary expertise to properly evaluate WTC-related disabilities, helping prevent lengthy delays and denials of disability pensions for Sept. 11 first responders.
- Extend the period to file an application for an accidental death benefit after the death of a loved one to five years. This allows the family of members of the State and Local Retirement System or the State and Local Police and Fire Retirement System sufficient time to apply for the benefit.
- Expand WTC disability benefits to include Tier 3 and 4 public employees who are members of the Teachers’ Retirement System and the State and Local Employees Retirement System. This bill would provide a final average salary disability retirement benefit and three-quarters disability pension to certain participants in WTC rescue, recovery or cleanup operations.
- Provide retirees of the City Fire Department that are diagnosed with certain cancers or melanoma a presumption that the cancer was incurred in the performance of duties. The bill establishes a five-year “lookback” window, making the retirees eligible to receive disability benefits.
- Establish September 11th Remembrance Day, which allows for a brief moment of silence in public schools across the state at the beginning of the school day every Sept. 11. Cuomo signed this bill, which was sponsored by State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach), on Sept. 9.
“Southern Queens and Rockaway faced an enormous loss of life following 9/11, and I believe that it is our responsibility to protect those that bravely and unselfishly protected us,” said Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Howard Beach), “and these laws accomplish just that.”