NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

The impact of the World Trade Center attack on FDNY firefighter retirement, disabilities, and pension benefits.

Niles JK; Webber MP; Gustave J; Zeig-Owens R; Lee R; Glass L; Weiden MD; Kelly KJ; Prezant DJ
Am J Ind Med 2011 Sep; 54(9):672-680
Background: Our goal was to examine the effect of the World Trade Center (WTC) attack and subsequent New York City Fire Department (FDNY) rescue/recovery activities on firefighter retirements. We also analyzed the financial impact associated with the increased number and proportion of service-connected ''accidental'' disability retirements on the FDNY pension system. Methods: A total of 7,763 firefighters retired between 9/11/1994 and 9/10/2008. We compared the total number of retirements and the number and proportion of accidental disability retirements 7 years before and 7 years after the WTC attack. We categorized WTC-related accidental disability retirements by medical cause and worked with the New York City Office of the Actuary to approximate the financial impact by cause. Results: In the 7 years before 9/11 there were 3,261 retirements, 48 percent (1,571) of which were accidental disability retirements. In the 7 years after 9/11, there were 4,502 retirements, 66 percent (2,970) were accidental disability retirements, of which 47 percent (1,402) were associated with WTC-related injuries or illnesses. After 9/11, the increase in accidental disability retirements was, for the most part, due to respiratory-related illnesses. Additional increases were attributed to psychological-related illnesses and musculoskeletal injuries incurred at the WTC site. Pension benefits associated with WTC-related accidental disability retirements have produced an increased financial burden of over $826 million on the FDNY pension system. Conclusions: The WTC attacks affected the health of the FDNY workforce resulting in more post-9/11 retirements than expected, and a larger proportion of these retirees with accidental disability pensions.
Emergency-responders; Employee-health; Fire-fighters; Rescue-workers; Disabled-workers; Accident-analysis; Accidents; Respiratory-system-disorders; Mental-disorders; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Psychological-disorders; Author Keywords: firefighters; retirement; disability; World Trade Center
D.J.Prezant, MD, Fire Department of the City of New York, Office of Medical Affairs, 9 Metrotech Center, Rm 4W-1, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U10-CCU-221158; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U10-OH-008242; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U10-OH-008243
Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Source Name
American Journal of Industrial Medicine
Performing Organization
New York City Fire Department
Page last reviewed: March 18, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division