Benefits coverage extended for 9/11 workers, volunteers

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation on Sunday, 15 years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, to extend the period for Ground Zero workers to seek medical benefits and lost wages following rescue and recovery procedures.

The legislation reopens the window for volunteers and workers in Lower Manhattan during the attacks to file claims with the state. The law extends the filing date to Sept. 11, 2018; the previous deadline elapsed.

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Andrew Cuomo, New York attorney general, talks to other attendees prior to a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about financial reform at Cooper Union in New York, U.S., on Thursday, April 22, 2010. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Andrew Cuomo

Though the attack “may feel like an eternity ago,” Cuomo said in a statement, “we still feel the pain and the loss like it was yesterday, and the thousands of brave men and women who stepped up in our darkest hour are still grappling with the aftereffects.”

Many rescue and recovery workers experienced health issues related to the air quality at Ground Zero and the trauma of the events.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released a study last week that found 7,662 non-uniformed rescue and recovery workers were more likely to develop cancer than the New York population, along with gastroesophageal reflux symptoms, asthma and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ground Zero workers with other chronic conditions were more likely to experience early retirement and job loss, and “the likelihood increased when the worker also had PTSD,” according to the report.

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