The senators said the legislation should allow "retroactive reclassification," which would pay full benefits to the beneficiaries of all those who die from injuries later linked to their work at Ground Zero.
James Zadroga, a New Jersey resident at the time of his death, was an NYPD detective who died recently due to complications that doctors say stem directly from his work at Ground Zero following the 9/11 attacks. He became ill just weeks after working at Ground Zero, but because he retired in 2004, the New York Police Department has determined that his 4-year old daughter Tylerann can only receive a disability pension, instead of the full death benefit to which she should be entitled. The senators called on New York officials to provide full benefits to Tylerann and other beneficiaries like her.
"All of our constituents take great pride in the heroism they displayed, and we also join in demanding that their service not be forgotten," the lawmakers wrote. "We urge you and the New York State Legislature to enact legislation immediately that allows for retroactive reclassification, which would provide Tylerann and other families the benefits they are due."
Governor Pataki last year signed legislation into law that extends disability benefits to workers who sustained injuries from their duties at Ground Zero. The bill also created a September 11th Worker Protection Task Force to "review and examine evidence about adverse health effects on workers who participated in the World Trade Center efforts." This Task Force was created to identify federal sources of funding to provide the benefits conferred by the bill.
"Unfortunately, Detective Zadroga's death will not be the last to be suffered by the brave Americans who rushed to Ground Zero in the hours and days after September 11," the lawmakers said. "In the months ahead, we hope we can work together to ensure that the heroes from both our states who sacrificed their health – and in Detective Zadroga's case, his life – will be justly compensated. We owe them nothing less."