Representative Nita Lowey

Representing the 17th District of New York

Lowey, Maloney, King, Nadler Call on Department of Labor to Reconsider Its Stance on Link Between CLL Illness and 9/11

November 17, 2017
Press Release
The Department of Labor’s determination that no causal relationship exists between chronic lymphocytic leukemia and 9/11 conflicts with the determinations of medical experts and other government offices and leaves victims without access to full benefits; Lawmakers: DOL “failing its obligation” to sick 9/11 responders.

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY17), Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY12), Congressman Peter King (R-NY02), and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY10), today sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta urging the Department of Labor (DOL) to reverse its determination that no causal relationship exists between chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

DOL’s determination leaves 9/11 volunteers, survivors, and other personnel who suffer from CLL without access to the full benefits they have earned. DOL’s decision also conflicts with the determinations of medical experts and other government offices. In their letter, Lowey, Maloney, King, and Nadler point to the case of Special Agent Terence Opiola, a member of the 9/11 rescue and recovery team at Ground Zero whose application for disability was denied by DOL because of the Department’s stance on CLL.

“As Members of Congress who were original sponsors and cosponsors of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, we write to raise our concerns regarding the Department of Labor (DOL) decision to deny the existence of a causal relationship between chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and 9/11 related illnesses,” wrote the Members of Congress. “Our immediate concern relates to the application for disability for Special Agent Terence Opiola, which was denied by DOL in a July 19, 2017 letter stating that the application ‘has been denied because the fifth basic element, causal relationship, has not been met.’”

“We are concerned by the Department’s determination that no causal relationship exists between LCC and 9/11, particularly as DOL’s decision conflicts with the determinations of medical experts and other government offices,” the Members continued. “Without this determination by DOL, Mr. Opiola and other personnel who were present at Ground Zero on the days following 9/11 will not have access to the full benefits they have earned.  As a result, the Department appears to be failing its obligation to Mr. Opiola and other 9/11 responders who have medically diagnosed conditions due to their service. Taking into consideration the substantial medical and other scientific evidence supporting cancer, including CLL, we ask that the DOL review and reconsider not only Mr. Opiola’s application, but also those of any other similarly situated 9/11 federal responders.”

A pdf version of the full letter can be found here.

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