Police officer connects her fibromyalgia to Ground Zero

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Feb 18 2015 - 11:03pm

A former police officer believes her job at Ground Zero is connected to her fibromyalgia. Annmarie Sheldon was initially denied accidental disability retirement benefits, but she filed and won an appeal. Justice Rolando Acosta states that fibromyalgia should be considered a new onset disease for the World Trade Center presumption law.

Annmarie Sheldon spent 300 hours at Ground Zero, and her health started to deteriorate quickly. The New York Law Journal reports she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia a year later. Sheldon asked for accidental disability retirement benefits several years after the diagnosis. In addition to fibromyalgia, she developed hypothyroidism, pulmonary disease and other health issues.

Although the Police Pension Fund acknowledged her fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, it decided the cause was not her exposure at Ground Zero in New York City. Sheldon tried to reapply for more benefits several times but was denied. She took the Police Pension Fund to court and won. Her lawyer believes she is the first 9/11 police officer to win accidental disability retirement benefits based on fibromyalgia.

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The World Trade Center presumption law allows Ground Zero workers to apply for accidental disability retirement benefits based on qualifying conditions. Workers must show that their prior medical records do not have the qualifying condition listed. These conditions range from cancer to respiratory tract problems. Annmarie Sheldon is convinced the time she spent at Ground Zero caused her medical issues.

Justice Rolando Acosta agrees and points out: “Here, the evidence shows that petitioner did not have fibromyalgia before September 11, 2001, and that she developed disabling fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome in the wake of her WTC exposure.”

Annmarie Sheldon will now receive an extra $2,500 in disability benefits. Although the pension trustees have the option of an appeal, it is not clear if they will pursue it. Despite the ruling, Sheldon’s lawyer believes other workers will continue to struggle to get the benefits they deserve because of the complexity of the law.

Read more about fibromyalgia:
Memantine drug shows promise for fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia study focuses on brain stimulation to fight pain

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