IN DEEPER ON THE WTC
Part two of your series on the World Trade Center disaster, "The Disease Within" (Risk & Insurance®, Oct. 1, 2007), states that almost half of WTC claims at some point in 2004 were not yet processed.
In fact, the N.Y. State Workers' Comp Board's 2003 Annual Report--a public document--shows 10,047 claims indexed as of April 8, 2004, with 97 percent of death claims and 83 percent of injury claims resolved by that time.
To date, this board has received 11,863 workers' compensation claims from the World Trade Center. More than 90 percent are resolved, but it's also important to note that 962 cases were filed in the last year. Even so, more than a fifth of the 1,128 pending WTC cases already received benefits.
About 70 percent of claims were resolved in less than a year, and more than two in five claims didn't require even a single hearing for resolution. It is also worth noting that 77.9 percent of the rescue, recovery and cleanup workers who pursued claims beyond an initial filing received benefits. Workers continue to file claims, but within the pool of all WTC claims resolved by Sept. 12, 2007, only 9.3 percent of workers who actively pursued claims did not receive benefits.
Actions first by Gov. George Pataki and now by Gov. Eliot Spitzer extended filing deadlines and then created a registry for WTC workers, preserving their right to file for benefits should they fall ill in the future. This board has received 20,469 unique filings of this WTC-12 form.
Director of Claims Operations
N.Y. State Workers' Compensation Board
The 2004 GAO audit of the N.Y. State Workers' Compensation Board stated that, as of mid-2004, the board had received 10,182 claims for workers' comp and 588 volunteer claims related to the Sept. 11 attacks and recovery.
Ninety percent of the workers' comp claims had been resolved; that is, the board had resolved all the issues that it could with the information available at that point. The remaining 10 percent were pending.
Board officials noted that claims status was fluid. A resolved claim could change to pending if more information became available. In addition, we were unable to report claims approval and denial rates because, according to its officials, the board's core mission is to process individual claims, not track outcomes of claims decisions.
In 2004, the GAO reported for 52 percent of claims received that: (1) a link was established between Sept. 11 and resulting death, injury or illness, and benefits were paid or were in the process of being paid; or (2) this link had been established but the board had not authorized paying benefits.
Of the 10,182 claims, 133 involved workers with uninsured employers. The board resolved 89 percent of these. Of the 588 volunteer claims, the board resolved 31 percent, and 69 percent were pending. According to the board, many volunteer claims were pending because claimants were not actively pursuing claims.
The board did not respond to a request for an interview in July which might have clarified this issue.
January 1, 2008
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