WTC FAQs

Overview

WTC FAQs

Download the WTC Disability Law Fact Sheet for answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding the WTC Disability Law or see FAQs below.
 

What is the World Trade Center (WTC) Disability Law?

This law provides that NYCERS Members, Vested Members, or Retirees (retired after 9/11/01) who participated in the WTC Rescue, Recovery or Clean-up Operations during a Qualifying Period may be entitled to a presumption that any current or future disability caused by a Qualifying Condition or Impairment of Health arose from participation in such operations, unless it’s proven otherwise.

While the original law required that you were a NYCERS Member during your period of participation, Chapter 424 of the Laws of 2021 amended this requirement to include public employees who became NYCERS Members after the qualifying period and who purchased some or all of that pre-membership service during their period of participation.

Who does the recent amendment of the WTC law cover?

While the original law required that you were a NYCERS Member during your period of participation, Chapter 424 of the Laws of 2021 amended this requirement to include public employees who became NYCERS Members after the Qualifying Period and who purchased some or all of that pre-membership service during their period of participation.

What is the Qualifying Period?

The Qualifying Period as defined by law is between September 11, 2001 and September 12, 2002.

Does this law create an enhanced disability benefit?

No. The law provides a presumption of an Accidental Disability for NYCERS Members, Vested Members, or Retirees (retired after 9/11/01) who meet certain pre-qualifying criteria in the law and become disabled from performing the functions of their position as a result of a Qualifying Condition or Impairment of Health and have a verified Notice of Participation on file with NYCERS. Benefits are paid according to the provisions that cover an Accidental Disability for your Tier and title.

What is a Notice of Participation (Form #622)?

The law requires that members file a statement with NYCERS indicating the dates and locations of participation. This statement is known as a Notice of Participation. A Notice of Participation is not a disability application. It is a sworn statement by you indicating the dates and locations of your participation, which preserves your right to file for disability under the WTC Disability Law. NYCERS will send your completed Notice of Participation to your employer at the time of such participation for verification that you meet the pre-qualifying criteria. A Notice of Participation must be filed with NYCERS no later than September 11, 2022. 

If your employer at the time of participation is unable to verify that you meet the pre-qualifying criteria, you may be able to refute the agency’s findings by submitting documentation to NYCERS to support your case.

Who should file a Notice of Participation?

All NYCERS active Members, Vested Members and Retirees (retired after 9/11/01) who Participated in WTC Rescue, Recovery or Clean-up Operations during a Qualifying Period. Participation in WTC Rescue, Recovery, or Clean-up Operations must have been during your employment. Participation in a volunteer capacity does not qualify you under this law. Also, Eligible Beneficiaries of members who participated and subsequently died without having filed a Notice of Participation may file. Remember, the deadline to file is September 11, 2022.

How do I submit a Notice of Participation (Form #622)?

Download the Notice of Participation Form #622 HERE. Complete the form and register for/log in to MyNYCERS at www.nycers.org to upload your form. Alternately, you can mail the completed form to 30-30 47th Avenue, 10th Floor, Long Island City, NY 11101.

I am not experiencing any health issues. Do I still need to file a Notice of Participation?

Yes. Although you may not be experiencing any health issues at this time, filing a Notice of Participation preserves your right to apply for disability retirement under this law. You cannot predict if you will develop a Qualifying Condition or Impairment of Health in the future so it is urged that you file the Notice prior to the current filing deadline of September 11, 2022.

What information must be provided when I file the Notice of Participation?

The law requires that you meet certain prequalifying criteria to be eligible for the presumption. In general, a NYCERS Member/Vested Member/Retiree is deemed to have met the prequalifying criteria upon verification of their Participation in WTC Rescue, Recovery or Clean-up Operations during a Qualifying Period. The Notice is a sworn statement in which you indicate how you meet the pre-qualifying criteria.

Is there any supporting documentation required?

One pre-qualifying criterion specifies that a member must have either successfully passed a physical examination upon entry into public service or, if they did not undergo such examination, authorize the release of all relevant medical records. If you did not undergo a physical examination, NYCERS urges you to gather, maintain and/or submit relevant medical records as early as possible. Doing so may help facilitate a disability application you may file in the future.

Why am I required to authorize the release of all relevant medical records?

The law requires your authorization because if you claim a WTC-related disability, the relevant medical records must not show evidence of the Qualifying Condition or Impairment of Health prior to 9/11/01.

I filed a Notice of Participation – now what?

NYCERS will send you an acknowledgment letter upon receipt of your Notice. We will then contact your agency to verify that you meet the prequalifying criteria. When we receive your agency’s response, we will advise you of the outcome in writing. You can also view the status of your Notice of Participation in your MyNYCERS account. It is recommended that you pay close attention to any correspondence we send to you.

I filed a Notice and received a letter stating I do not meet the pre-qualifying criteria. Can changes to the law affect my status?

The WTC law was enacted in 2005 and has been amended in 2008, 2013, 2016, 2018, and 2021. It is possible that an amendment in the law could affect your eligibility. If the WTC law is amended in the future, the WTC section of the website will be updated. If an amendment to the WTC law expands eligibility, the new eligibility requirements will be highlighted.

If I receive a letter stating that I am pre-qualified, am I automatically entitled to WTC accidental disability retirement?

Pre-qualified status means you have met the pre-qualifying criteria for the presumption and a verified Notice of Participation exists on file with NYCERS. Since you have met the prequalifying criteria you may benefit from the presumption that the disability is WTC-related, unless the contrary is proven.

If you become disabled, you must file a disability retirement application and be examined by NYCERS’ Medical Board. The Medical Board considers whether you are disabled from performing your job duties, as specified in your job title, and the cause of that disability is also considered.

What recourse do I have if the Medical Board finds that I am disabled, but that the disability was not WTC-related?

You may appeal to NYCERS’ Board of Trustees under existing appeals procedures. Please contact NYCERS’ Call Center at 347-643-3000 for information and instructions.

I am not in City service, but I am a vested member awaiting payability of a Vested Retirement Benefit. Can I apply for disability under this law?

It depends on the disability law applicable to your Tier and job title. Under Chapter 326 of the Laws of 2016, the following vested members are permitted to file a Notice of Participation no later than September 11, 2022 and then apply for disability:

  • Tier 1 and 2 members (NYC Administrative Code §13-168)
  • Tier 3 Uniformed Corrections (*RSSL §507-c)
  • Tier 4 Uniformed Sanitation (*RSSL §605-b)
  • Tier 4 Emergency Medical Technicians (*RSSL §607-b)
  • Tier 4 NYC Deputy Sheriffs (*RSSL §605-c)

*Retirement and Social Security Law

Can I file for both WTC disability and service retirement simultaneously?

You can simultaneously file several types of retirement applications, and start receiving benefits as soon as the first application is approved. If you are later found to be qualified for a different benefit, you may retire under that new benefit. If you file a WTC Disability Retirement Application to reclassify under a WTC qualifying condition, pursuant to the law, your reclassification retirement date is the date of the Board of Trustees’ approval.

What if I met the pre-qualifying criteria, retire under non-WTC retirement and then develop an illness?

If you have met the pre-qualifying criteria and subsequently retired for service, ordinary disability, performance-of-duty disability or non-WTC accidental disability, certain retirees may apply to reclassify pension benefits to a WTC Accidental Disability benefit. Upon application, the process to evaluate your disability will commence. Remember, the law did not create a new benefit so if you successfully reclassify, the benefit is paid according to the provisions that cover an Accidental Disability for your Tier and title and is based on the date of the Board of Trustees’ ratification of the recommended approval by the NYCERS Medical Board.

NOTE: The following retirees who retired on non-WTC accidental disability retirement are NOT eligible to reclassify to a WTC accidental disability retirement:

  • Tier 3 General Members (*RSSL §507)
  • Tier 4 Uniformed Sanitation (*RSSL §605-b)
  • Tier 4 NYC Deputy Sheriffs (*RSSL §605-c)

*Retirement and Social Security Law

If I am found disabled due to a WTC qualifying psychiatric condition and retired based on this finding, can I request to be considered for a WTC qualifying physical condition(s)?

Yes, you may request to be considered for a WTC qualifying physical condition(s). There is no limitation requiring a 12-month period between granting the WTC disability under a psychiatric condition and requesting to be considered for a WTC qualifying physical condition(s).

If I am subsequently found disabled under a WTC qualifying physical condition(s), will my original retirement date change?

No. Your original retirement date will remain the same. However, the date the Medical Board’s recommendation for approval is ratified by NYCERS’ Board of Trustees will be noted in your file.

If I am found disabled under a WTC qualifying physical condition, can I request to be considered for another WTC qualifying physical or psychiatric condition(s)?

Yes, you may request to be considered for a second WTC qualifying physical or psychiatric condition(s) no earlier than 12 months from the date of the prior approval or from the date of a prior denial. However, you may reapply for a second WTC qualifying condition sooner if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness that is a Qualifying Condition or Impairment of Health.

Can my Employer submit additional documentation to NYCERS that clarifies my duties?

Yes. This will assist the NYCERS Medical Board in determining whether you are permanently disabled from performing your duties.

If I am examined by an Independent Medical Examiner, can I see the report?

Yes. NYCERS will provide you with a copy of the report as part of the disability application process.

If I am denied disability, how soon can I apply again?

If you are denied disability based on a finding by the Medical Board that you are not disabled under this law, then you may reapply no earlier than 12 months from the date of denial. However, you may reapply sooner if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness that is a Qualifying Condition or Impairment of Health.

If I successfully reclassify, is it retroactive?

No. Your reclassification, along with any possible change in benefits, would be effective upon the ratification of the Medical Board’s recommendation for approval by NYCERS’ Board of Trustees.

NOTE: The retirement option you chose at the time of retirement cannot be changed as a result of reclassification. The reclassification only changes the type of retirement benefit you receive.

Were any other benefits provided under the WTC Disability Law?

Yes. A NYCERS Member, Vested Member, or Retiree (retired after 9/11/01) who meets the prequalifying criteria and subsequently dies from a Qualifying Condition or Impairment of Health may be entitled to a presumption that their death was related to Participation in WTC Rescue, Recovery or Clean-up Operations. The Eligible Beneficiary/Beneficiaries of such members would be able to apply for an Accidental Death Benefit, subject to applicable filing requirements.

Did the law create an enhanced Accidental Death Benefit?

No. Just like WTC disability cases, the Accidental Death Benefit would be paid according to the Accidental Death Benefit provisions for your Tier and title.

If I retire and subsequently die, what is the impact on my beneficiary’s benefit?

If your Eligible Beneficiary/Beneficiaries is entitled to non-WTC benefits after your death (including any post-retirement death benefit) and subsequently is approved for the WTC Accidental Death Benefit, they will begin to receive the WTC Accidental Death benefits from the date the application for Accidental Death Benefits is approved.

What if the Eligible Beneficiary is different from the person entitled to a non-WTC benefit?

In this case, any person(s) entitled to a non-WTC benefit (including any post- retirement death benefit) shall continue to receive such benefit. However, the WTC benefit would be reduced by the amount of the non-WTC benefit.

Is there a limit on the period of time between retirement and date of death to qualify for the Accidental Death Benefit?

Yes. You cannot be retired for more than 25 years at the time of death. In other words, if you die within 25 years from the date of retirement, your Eligible Beneficiary may qualify for a WTC death benefit.