Skip to comments.Labor Department denies inspector workers’ compensation as other agencies accept his 9/11 illness
Posted on 12/13/2017 3:21:24 PM PST by Coleus
A former inspector for the federal government now diagnosed with a terminal 9/11 illness is battling with the Labor Department for his workers compensation benefit. Dale Henderson, 59, was a compliance inspector with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on 9/11. Hes been diagnosed by government doctors with interstitial lung disease one of several illnesses linked to exposure to hazardous materials on 9/11 or at Ground Zero. Hendersons 9/11 illness was acknowledged by the World Trade Center Victims Compensation Fund which awarded him a $300,000 payout when he first got sick.
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But even that was not enough proof for Henderson to get a workers compensation benefit from the Labor Department, according to his attorney. The Labor Department rejected his first claim for the benefit which could be as much as 75% of his former salary, tax-free because it said he didnt prove a causal link between his illness and his time at Ground Zero, according to documents reviewed by the Daily News. Its hard to understand how this process works, Henderson told The News last week. I have one arm of the federal government acknowledging the 9/11 link, and other arm saying thats not enough. Despite falling gravely ill in 2009, Henderson worked as long as he could and retired in December 2016 several years after his supervisors began assigning him to desk jobs when it became clear he could no longer go out into the field.
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In 2001, Henderson a former Army firefighter who did 20 years in the military was in his early 40s and still fairly new to OSHA. He was sent to Ground Zero on Oct. 7, 2001, to make sure the construction crews, firefighters and others working amid the debris were following proper safety procedures. We were there for a week, and they had us on round-the-clock shifts walking the site. We were taking samples, making sure people were safe, things like that, said Henderson, who lives outside Dayton, Ohio. I was on the night shift. There was work 24/7. 'The Pile' was still smoking, there was a haze in the air. The rule was, if you were within 50 feet of the Pile, you wore a respirator, he recalled. FDNY firefighter, 49, with 5 kids dies from 9/11-linked cancer
Henderson wore all the personal protective equipment available and until 2006, he suffered no ill effects from his time on the Pile. But that year, he started having difficulty passing his annual OSHA physical, which required him to take a lung capacity test. He kept failing it. In 2009, his skin erupted in a violent red rash accompanied by blisters. He was in the burn unit for 3 ½ weeks, his wife, Melissa Henderson, said. Zadroga Act campaign to target students and teachers
Things kept popping up on his skin and nobody knew what it was. The hospital said it was probably something from the chemicals that had sat deep in his body for a long time. . . . It sure came out with a vengeance. By the time he was able to leave the burn unit, Henderson had a bigger problem: He was on the verge of total respiratory failure. His doctor put him in a medically induced coma for seven weeks, his wife said.
Thanks to the $300,000 WTC compensation payout for his pain and suffering, Melissa was able to quit her job and nurse him back to his feet but it took two years, Dale Henderson said. When he was able, he went back to work, but no longer as a field inspector. He took a desk job. Then came a day when he couldnt walk across the office without losing breath. The OSHA inspector knew it was time to go. They told me in 2009 that the life expectancy for this disease is five to seven years so Im already beating the odds, Henderson said. But he has to use a walker and because of failing kidneys get dialysis three times a week. At night, he sleeps with oxygen.
Im not trying to be greedy or get something for nothing. I worked as long as I could, he said. Henderson used to make about $120,000 as an OSHA employee. He took home roughly $4,000 a paycheck a tidy sum of nearly $8,000 a month. Now, he and his family live off his Social Security disability payments and his military retirement pay. At $3,600 a month, its a real pinch, he said. A spokesman for the Labor Department declined to comment.
Under the Privacy Act, the department cannot, absent a release from the claimant, discuss the details of a claim including confirming or denying the existence of a claim, the spokesman said. According to Hendersons documentation, after the agency first denied him a workers compensation benefit, he was invited to appeal the ruling. He did, and the agency then denied it again, saying he had not submitted the requested medical forms from a doctor. Although Henderson and his lawyer disputed that and could point to the medical form in their submission they decided to appeal again, which theyre currently doing. Henderson is not the first federal employee to find himself caught between warring opinions in federal agencies.
Former U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Terence Opiola, diagnosed with a 9/11 blood cancer, has also been denied workers compensation by the Labor Department even though other federal agencies have conceded his sickness is linked to work he did at Ground Zero. Hendersons attorney Jeffrey Mullins said his client wasnt trying to double-dip. Whatever he is getting from Social Security now would be offset if he got workers compensation, said Mullins. Hes only trying to get what hes owed. This is why the federal government has workers comp.
Henderson went into respiratory failure and had to be put in a medically-induced coma for 7.5 weeks in 2009.
( Courtesy of Dale Henderson)
Henderson and his wife, Melissa, are pictured here in happier times many years ago.
(Courtesy of Dale Henderson)
Henderson used to make about $120,000 as an OSHA employee. He took home roughly $4,000 a paycheck a tidy sum of nearly $8,000 a month.
Sorry for the mans pain and suffering. But there are thousands of these leeches making this kind of money. Plus their benefits, plus their pensions.
Fire half of them tomorrow.
Everyone of them could be replaced at half the cost. Paper pushers are easy to find.
Better yet, cut their salaries all in half.
I wouldnt argue the paper pushing point with you. But having been denied WC by the US Dept of Labor, it is wrong how rigged that system is. Your Medical case is decided by lawyers and your claims reps are just regular clerks, no medical knowledge. Lawyers. Lawyers. Lawyers. And they are the prosecutor, the judge and the jury. You have no recourse outside of the Labor dept. SSDI approved my disability and so did the Postal Service. But the Labor Dept Denied I even had anything wrong with me. I even had to pay back the money they paid out for dr bills!
I agree with that. The entire Workers Comp program is a mess. Unfortunately much of that is due to the innordinate amount of scammers we produce in this country.
Everyone is ‘entitled’
I am not speaking about this individual case or yours either. Knowing more than a couple attorneys involved in the Workers Comp program it is amazing how many in the system are partial or outright frauds.
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