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Uterine Cancer Now a Covered 9/11-Related Condition


Uterine cancer is now recognized as a 9/11-related cancer, giving affected women access to World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and Victim Compensation Fund benefits, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced.

The decision follows more than a year of research, discussion, and opportunities for public comment. It makes uterine cancer the 69th 9/11-related cancer — and the first to be added to the 9/11 registry in nearly a decade.

Despite evidence linking the disease to 9/11 toxins, uterine cancer had been the only cancer that wasn’t covered.
The final rule takes effect immediately, allowing the WTC Health Program — a federal program that provides no-cost medical monitoring and treatment for certified WTC-related health conditions — to begin covering treatment services as soon as possible for patients with certified WTC-related uterine cancers. The program, administered by the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, is authorized for the next 67 years (through 2090).

Hundreds of women currently enrolled in the program have uterine cancer — a number that is expected to increase as women who don’t have another qualifying 9/11-related illness become eligible to enroll. Families of those who have died of 9/11-related uterine cancer are also eligible to seek compensation.

In the past few years, lawmakers, 9/11 survivors and responders, and advocacy groups have advocated for the addition of uterine cancer to the list of covered conditions. After extensive efforts and a recognition of the scientific data which supports the link between exposure to 9/11 toxins and uterine cancer, on Jan. 18, 2023, the WTCHP took the necessary step of adding uterine cancer as a 9/11-related condition. As such, 9/11 toxin exposure victims who are either experiencing symptoms of uterine cancer or have already been diagnosed with this condition, can seek medical monitoring and treatment funded by the WTCHP.

Prior to the WTCHP announcement, uterine cancer was the only cancer type that was not considered to be a 9/11-related health condition because early on, most 9/11 first responders who participated in research studies were males. Unfortunately, uterine cancer was not on the radar screen until the past five-to-10 years.
Now that the WTCHP covers all cancer types, no 9/11 survivor or responder who is suffering from uterine cancer – or any other cancer – should be denied medical benefits under the WTCHP.

The two-decade delay in recognizing 9/11-related uterine cancer has been costly for affected women who have had to pay for expensive treatments. Now that uterine cancer is on the list of 9/11-related health conditions, qualifying individuals who file claims with the WTCHP to seek medical benefits may also be eligible to seek and obtain compensation under the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) that provides financial compensation to responders and survivors who have suffered extensively because of their conditions.

Some individuals with 9/11-related conditions cannot work, thus leaving a financial hole that may not otherwise exist (absent the diagnosis of a 9/11-related health condition). Moreover, the physical and mental pain and suffering associated with a 9/11-related condition warrants an award of financial compensation The families of those who died from 9/11 related uterine cancer can now seek compensation for their losses as well.

A statement from the WTCHP last May on the proposed rule change explained that exclusion of this particular cancer was due to “insufficient evidence” to support adding it to the list of covered conditions. However, an advisory committee this past November unanimously approved the recommendation to add uterine cancer to the list of diseases covered by the program for first responders and those close to the attacks.

Anyone seeking more information or a program application should go to www.cdc.gov/wtc/application.html

Update on Medicare Advantage

01.04.23 - The New York City Council has introduced legislation (Int 0874-2023) to amend the Administrative Code that would allow for choice in retiree health care plans and is scheduled to hold a hearing on the legislation on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. Unless this legislation passes, the arbitrator's binding decision to make the Medicare Advantage Plus Plan the one and only plan for retirees will take effect in July of this year. By passing the legislation, the Municipal Labor Committee can negotiate the rights of retirees to choose a plan from various plans that meets their needs.

12.15.22 -  Arbitrator Martin Scheinman issued a decision regarding ongoing health matters. In light of the delay in implementing the Medicare Advantage Plan and the hastening drawdown of the Stabilization Fund, the City had applied to Scheinman to enforce the 2018 Health Agreement. In the award, Scheinman finds that the Stabilization Fund has effectively run out of money and that the City and MLC should proceed to negotiate appropriate terms for an MA plan with Aetna within the next 25 days. Assuming terms are agreed upon, he directs that the MLC put that agreement to a vote.

Updates on Student Loan Forgiveness

The student loan payment pause is extended until the U.S. Department of Education is permitted to implement the debt relief program or the litigation is resolved. Payments will restart 60 days later. If the debt relief program has not been implemented and the litigation has not been resolved by June 30, 2023 – payments will resume 60 days after that.

Gov. Kathy Hochul recently signed legislation to expand and simplify public employee access to the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The law establishes uniformity around what qualifies as full-time employment for the purposes of accessing PSLF and allows public service employers to certify employment on behalf of workers.

PSLF is a federal program that incentivizes public service work by canceling a portion of borrowers' federal student loans. The program requires borrowers to be full-time employees of an eligible public service employer and make 120 qualifying payments towards their student loan, after which the remainder of their federal student loan debt is forgiven. Any student loan debt that is forgiven under this program will not be subject to tax under New York State tax law.

The new law (Chapter 562) addresses barriers to accessing PSLF by:
1. Clarifying the legal definitions of key terms such as, "certifying employment," "employee," "full-time," "public service employer," "public service loan forgiveness form," and "Public service loan forgiveness program;"
2. Setting a standard hourly threshold for full-time employment at 30 hours per week for the purposes of accessing PSLF and clarifying standardized prep time to be included in such calculation for faculty and teachers; and
3. Allowing public service employers to certify employment on behalf of individuals or groups of employees directly with the U.S. Department of Education.

President Joe Biden announced on Aug. 24 an income-based student debt relief program that forgives up to $20,000 in student loan debt. He also extended the CARES Act student loan forbearance through Jan. 1, 2023.

The U.S. Department of Education will forgive up to $20,000 in outstanding student debt for borrowers who received Pell Grants and up to $10,000 in student debt for those who did not receive Pell Grants. Loan forgiveness will not be treated as taxable income.

Individuals who earn less than $125,000 and couples who earn up to $250,000, in years 2020 and 2021 only, qualify for student debt relief. The U.S. Department of Education has income information on file for about 8 million borrowers who may qualify to have their college debts canceled automatically. Other borrowers will have to apply using a new, simplified application that is in development.

Students currently enrolled in college who have student loans and parents with Parent PLUS loans are eligible to apply for student debt forgiveness.

Borrowers with outstanding undergraduate loans can apply to cap their student loan payments at 5 percent of their monthly income.

The Department of Education’s website should be ready to accept applications for student debt relief in December 2022.

The pause on direct student loan payments, interest accrual and collection activity on direct student loans in default will remain in place through Jan. 1, 2023, when payments will resume. The administration indicated this would be the final payment pause extension.

Tier 6 Pension Changes

The 2022 New York State Budget Bill was signed into law by Governor Hochul on April 9, 2022. Within Chapter 56 of this bill, three parts (Part HH, Part SS and Part TT) amend NYS Retirement and Social Security Law (RSSL), and impact certain NYCERS members and retirees. Read More >>

What is the World Trade Center Presumption Law?

The World Trade Center Presumption Law provides a presumption to eligible NYSLRS members and retirees who become permanently disabled and are unable to do their jobs due to certain conditions, that they can claim their permanent disabilities are the result of participation in World Trade Center rescue, recovery or cleanup operations. The presumption will apply unless it’s proven the condition was the result of other factors.

If you meet the eligibility requirements, the presumption allows you to:

  • File for an accidental disability retirement in the future;
  • Have an existing disability retirement benefit reclassified as an accidental disability retirement benefit; or
  • Leave your beneficiaries an accidental death benefit.

    Your disability or death must be due to one of the qualifying conditions specified in the law.

Who should file?

You must file an Application for World Trade Center Notice (RS6047-N) prior to submitting an Application for World Trade Center Accidental Disability Presumption (RS6047-W)Even if you do not currently suffer one of the qualifying conditions, filing this notice will protect your right — and the right of your beneficiaries — to apply for benefits in the future.

Once you file a notice with NYSLRS, there is no subsequent deadline to file for an accidental disability retirement or retirement reclassification should the need arise.

For more information, Click Here >> 

In Other News

June 19, 2022 - thecity.nyc
New York City’s years-long effort to shift retired city workers to a cost-cutting health care plan was dealt a major blow Monday when the insurer in charge of running the plan announced that it is withdrawing from the deal.

The plan — which the city and municipal unions hoped would save $600 million a year in health care costs — would have been run by the Retiree Health Alliance, a partnership between health insurance companies Elevance Health, previously known as Anthem, and Empire BlueCross BlueShield. Read More >>

Juneteenth will be a paid city holiday for New York City workers beginning this year (2022).
Juneteenth is recognized as the effective end of slavery in the United States and is considered as the longest-running African American holiday. It became a federal holiday on June 17, 2021, becoming the 12th federal holiday and first new one since Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As Juneteenth falls on a Sunday, city employees will be provided a paid holiday on Monday, June 20. 

Paid Family Leave (PFL) is now available to eligible employees of the City of New York. Local 300 members in HHC, Housing Authority, Department of Education, and CUNY should contact their Personnel Departments if they need to use this benefit. This PDF >> has more information on the Paid Family Leave, who is eligible, and how it works.

In a broad reaching development, medical billing practices and abuses of same were addressed by federal legislation called the "No Surprises Act" which went into effect Jan. 1, 2022. This new law establishes protections from so-called "surprise medical bills", which arise when consumers inadvertently receive care from out-of-network hospitals, doctors or other providers they did not choose. Read More >>

The SEIU LOCAL 300 CIVIL SERVICE FORUM EMPLOYEES WELFARE FUNDS now are covering Active and Retiree Members’ dependent children up to age 26. “In times when so many younger adults are having difficulty finding jobs that provide benefits, this additional benefit for our members will enable them to further assist their children in transitioning to the working world,” said James Golden, Local 300 President and Welfare Fund Chair. “Through years of prudent fiscal management by our Fund Trustees, we now are able to provide this extension from the previous age of 19.”

In order to be covered, members must have a birth certificate on file with the Fund Office for each child before any claims can be submitted. If you are unsure whether you have all necessary birth certificates on file, you can email the Fund Office your name, title, cell phone number, and personal email address, and we will verify if we have the necessary documents. This benefit started March 1, 2021, and is retroactive to that date for any expenses occurred beginning March 1. The extended age pertains to all benefits provided to members’ and retirees’ eligible dependents up to age 26 as defined in the SEIU Local 300 Civil Service Forum Employees Welfare Funds Books>.

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