Pension Reclassification: What You Need to Know
By Richard Alles, Deputy Chief FDNY, Ret.
Every member who was active on 9/11 should be aware that they have the right to reclassify their pension in the event that they develop a disabling 9/11-related illness. Under the 2005 New York State WTC Disability Law, there is a presumption that many illnesses were caused by exposure to 9/11 toxins. The law covers cancer, lung disease, and certain psychological conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression.
The reclassification provision of the 2005 law applies to members who were active on 9/11, but have since retired on a service or non-WTC disability pension. The member’s pension will be reclassified if they would have met the criteria for a WTC-disability pension, had they not already been retired.
Moreover, a member who develops a WTC-related cancer or lung disease may reclassify a disability pension awarded for a WTC-related psychological condition.
Remember that any 9/11 responder who is diagnosed with any WTC-related illness is eligible to receive compensation for pain and suffering from the Victim Compensation Fund. In addition, any member or retiree who receives a WTC-disability pension, either in the ordinary course or by reclassifying, may also be entitled to compensation for economic loss from the VCF.
A tremendous amount of time and effort was expended in getting the WTC Health Program and the Victim
Compensation Fund permanently extended. These benefits will be there for the 9/11 community for the rest of their lives.
We urge you to make your annual WTC medical screening exam a part of your retirement. Members who
remain focused on annual checkups stand the best chance of enjoying the benefits of their well-earned pension.
Remember that your union pension trustee is an extremely important source of information for you. If you are an active member, and have been diagnosed with cancer or respiratory disease, and are going through the disability process, or if you are a retiree seeking to reclassify your pension, your first call should always be to your union. Of course, you are welcome to call our office for a second opinion, as well as a free consultation to discuss your right to compensation from the Victim Compensation Fund.