Jeffrey Goldberg, Attorney at Parker Waichman LLP, Helps Ground Zero Officer Win Disability Pension

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Parker Waichman LLP Counsel, Jeffrey Goldberg, has successfully helped a Ground Zero officer receive disability pension for fibromyalgia, which she developed after working over 300 hours at the site. The firm has been actively involved in fighting for the rights of 9/11 rescue workers, first responders, and other survivors since the attacks, including working to pass the Zadroga Act, which provides compensation, medical treatment, and monitoring to 9/11 workers.

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As a firm that has fought for the rights of 9/11 heroes since the beginning, we understand how important this compensation is for those individuals who have become ill as a result of toxic dust exposure and their work at the 9/11 sites.

Parker Waichman LLP, a national law firm that has spent many years fighting to ensure that the heroes of 9/11 are never forgotten, is pleased to announce that Jeffrey Goldberg, Counsel with the firm, has successfully represented a retired police officer seeking line-of-duty disability pension for fibromyalgia. The officer, who spent over 300 hours working at Ground Zero, successfully won an appeal in the Appellate Division in Manhattan after showing that the pension board failed to show that the police officer’s illness was unrelated to the September 11th attacks. The case is In re: Annmarie Sheldon, Petitioner-Appellant v. Raymond Kelly, etc., et al., Respondents-Respondents, 101210/13.

The police officer was a first responder on September 11th. Court records show that she was assigned to a security post a block away from the Manhattan Ground Zero site in October 2001. After developing shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, and severe chest pains, she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in March 2002. According to court documents, she filed for disability retirement in 2008 but was denied. The medical board of the Police Pension Fund acknowledged that her fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome left her unable to work, but asserted that these conditions were not caused by her work at Ground Zero. She was denied again when reapplying several months later. The officer challenged these decisions by filing an Article 78 petition in State Supreme Court, but did not win.

According to Parker Waichman Counsel, Jeffrey Goldberg, “Our client was ultimately able to win her bid for disability due to the World Trade Center amendment to city pension law, which says that illnesses developed after 9/11 should be presumed related to the attacks.” In other words, first responders should be given the benefit of the doubt. The amendment requires pension boards to show valid medical evidence if they assert that an applicant's condition is not related to the attacks. If they fail to do this, then the applicant must receive disability pension equal to three-quarters of his or her final salary, tax-free. The appellate judges found that fibromyalgia was a “new onset disease.” “The board also failed to provide credible evidence, as required by the amendment, that Officer Sheldon’s conditions were not related to the 9/11 attacks,” Mr. Goldberg added.

“We are pleased to see 9/11 heroes get the compensation they deserve,” said Matthew J. McCauley, Senior Litigation Counsel at Parker Waichman LLP. “As a firm that has fought for the rights of 9/11 heroes since the beginning, we understand how important this compensation is for those individuals who have become ill as a result of toxic dust exposure and their work at the 9/11 sites.”

According to Parker Waichman, many first responders and other survivors developed respiratory illnesses, cancer, and other serious conditions as a result of their exposure to the toxic dust cloud released in the wake of 9/11. Parker Waichman has also worked to ensure passage of the Zadroga Act, which provides compensation, medical monitoring, and treatment to first responders, rescue workers, and other survivors through two programs: the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) and the World Trade Center Health Program. The WTC Health Program is comprised of a Responder Program for rescue and recovery workers, as well as a Survivor Program geared to those who lived, worked, or went to school in lower Manhattan on September 11th. Services are available to Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania responders, as well.

Parker Waichman has also engaged in lobbying efforts, and trips to Washington DC led by Mr. McCauley and, often, involving the firm’s clients. Mr. McCauley and the firm continue to support the program and efforts to expand and extend program benefits and time frames.

Parker Waichman LLP, which worked, and continues to fight, alongside Ground Zero first responders and their advocates to help ensure passage of the Zadroga Act, vows to continue its efforts to safeguard these heroes and ensure that they receive all of the Zadroga Act compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one are eligible for compensation under the Zadroga Act, or filing a disability claim, and would like assistance with your claim or filing, please visit Parker Waichman's Zadroga Act claims page at yourlawyer.com, or call 1-800-LAW-INFO (1-800-529-4636).

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Gary Falkowitz
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