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/retirees (retired after 9/11/01) who Participated in 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 the contrary is proven.
Does this law create an enhanced disability benefit?
No. The law provides a presumption of accidental disability for members/vested members/retirees who meet certain pre-qualifying criteria in the law and become disabled from a Qualifying Condition or Impairment of Health. Benefits are paid according to the provisions that cover 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. If you develop a disability, you must file a disability application. A Notice of Participation must be filed no later than September 11, 2022. For the groups below, the filing deadline is extended to September 11, 2022.
- Tier 1 and Tier 2 vested members and their Eligible Beneficiaries pursuant to NYC Administrative Code §13-168
- Tier 3 vested members of the Uniformed Correction Force and their Eligible Beneficiaries pursuant to NYS Retirement and Social Security Law §507-c
- Tier 4 vested members of the Uniformed Sanitation Force and their Eligible Beneficiaries pursuant to NYS Retirement and Social Security Law §605-b
- Tier 4 vested Deputy Sheriffs and their Eligible Beneficiaries pursuant to NYS Retirement and Social Security Law §605-c
- Tier 4 vested Emergency Medical Technicians and their Eligible Beneficiaries pursuant to NYS Retirement and Social Security Law §607-b
Who should file a Notice of Participation?
All 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. 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.
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.
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 member/vested member/retiree is deemed to have met the prequalifying criteria upon verification of his or her 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 he or she did not undergo such examination, authorize the release of all relevant medical records. If you did not undergo a physical examination, we urge 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. It is recommended that you pay close attention to any correspondence we send to you. If your agency cannot verify that you meet the pre-qualifying criteria, you may be able to refute the agency’s findings by submitting documentation to support your case.
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?
Maybe. The law was originally enacted in 2005. Amendments enacted in 2008, 2013 and 2016 may affect your status. NYCERS will review all Notices with your agency and notify you in writing of the outcome.
If I receive a letter stating that I am pre-qualified, am I automatically entitled to WTC accidental disability retirement?
No. If you apply for disability under this law, you must first be examined by NYCERS’ Medical Board. The Medical Board must determine that you are disabled and cannot continue to perform your job duties. If you are deemed to be disabled, the cause of that disability is then considered. Since you have met the prequalifying criteria you may benefit from the presumption that the disability is WTC-related, unless the contrary is proven.
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.
I am not in City service, but 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 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
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 you may apply to reclassify your pension benefit 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 accidental disability for your tier and title.
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 your approval by the Board of Trustees. Note: the retirement option you chose at the time of retirement cannot be changed as a result of reclassification.
Were any other benefits provided under the WTC Disability Law?
Yes. A member/vested member/retiree who meets the prequalifying criteria and subsequently dies from a Qualifying Condition or Impairment of Health may be entitled to a presumption that his or her death was related to Participation in WTC Rescue, Recovery or Clean-up Operations. The Eligible Beneficiary(ies) 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(ies) is entitled to a non-WTC benefit after your death (including any post-retirement death benefit) and subsequently applies for the WTC accidental death benefit and is approved, he or she is required to relinquish the right to non-WTC benefits paid or payable to him or her since your death.
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. In other words, if you die within 25 years from the date of retirement you may qualify.