SCHUMER URGES WORKERS COMPENSATION BOARD TO APPROVE 9/11-RELATED DEATH COMPENSATION FOR LONG-SUFFERING FAMILY OF STATE TROOPER AND FALLEN9/11 HERO, LAWRENCE LAKEMAN; SENATOR SAYS DECADE-PLUS WAIT IS TOO LONG FOR THIS FAMILY TO RECEIVE THE COMPENSATION THAT THEY DESERVE
Lawrence W. Lakeman Fell Ill And Died From Pancreatic Cancer Stemming From His Work As A 9/11 First Responder; His Widow And Children Have Yet To Be Compensated By State Workers Compensation Board For His Service And Sacrifice
Workers Compensation Board Denied Initial Claim Because Lakeman’s Widow Did Not File Within Two Years Of Her Husband’s Death; However, Pancreatic Cancer Was Recognized As An Eligible 9/11 Disease In 2014; Audra Lakeman Filed In August Of 2015
Schumer: The Lakeman Family Deserves To Have Long-Delayed 9/11 Hero Benefits Reviewed And Approved By The Workers Compensation Board ?
Today, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, called on the state Workers’ Compensation Board to quickly review and approve benefits for Audra Lakeman of Lockport, New York, who is fighting for recognition of her late husband’s service to his country in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Schumer said Mrs. Lakeman’s late husband, New York State Trooper Lawrence W. Lakeman, was among as many as 4,000 members of the State Police who were sent to Manhattan in the wake of the attack on the World Trade Center. Lawrence worked at Ground Zero from September until December 2001, making him eligible for key benefits, but the State of New York has yet to process death benefits for his widow in connection with his service. The Workers’ Compensation Board denied Audra Lakeman’s initial claim on the grounds that she did not file within two years of Lakeman’s 2007 death. However, pancreatic cancer was only recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services as an eligible 9/11-connected disease as of February 2014. Audra filed her claim in August of 2015, well within two years of her knowledge of her husband’s eligibility. Schumer said it is vital that his death benefits are approved, and vowed to work with key stakeholders and the Lakeman family to push for this result.
“We owe it to brave first responders like Trooper Lawrence Lakemen – who answered the call after 9/11 and got fatally sick as a result – to take care of their families,” said Senator Schumer. “Lawrence Lakemen, like so many others, bravely took action when his nation needed him and the least we can do now is approve the benefits he earned for his family through his work and his sacrifice. That is why today I’m urging the state Workers’ Compensation Board to re-examine this case in the totality of all the facts and keep their promise to 9/11first responders and their families, and immediately approve these death benefits for Audra Lakeman and her children for her husband’s heroism. Simply put, Lawrence Lakeman lost his life as a result of his service to his state and his country, and his widow and children deserve fair compensation and peace.”
Schumer explained that in 2006, Lakeman fell ill with pancreatic cancer, and passed away from it less than two years later. Throughout his illness and while undergoing treatment, Lakeman continued to serve as a New York State Trooper in an effort to keep his family financially stable. Schumer explained that in 2014, pancreatic cancer was added to the list of eligible illnesses for 9/11-related compensation. Therefore, neither Lakeman, nor his widow, could have known that they should file prior to 2014. Once pancreatic cancer was recognized, Audra filed her claim less than 18 months later. The New York State Police have recognized that Lakeman’s illness and subsequent death were related to his service to New York State, and his country, after the September 11 attacks, and the Lakeman family will most likely receive payment from the federal Victims Compensation Fund. Schumer said after a full understanding of the facts and the context, he believes the Workers Compensation Board ought to make the humane and just decision to award these rightful 9/11 related benefits to Trooper Lakeman’s family.
Schumer said Lawrence Lakeman went above and beyond for his country and the State of New York on September 11, and in the intervening months that followed the worst attack on the United States since Pearl Harbor, and thus is eligible for death benefits that speak to his heroism and unrelenting allegiance to this country. Schumer continued that Lakeman lost his life due to his heroic service and that because of this, his widow and children deserve to be compensated fairly.
A copy of Schumer’s letter appears below:
I write today in support of Audra Lakeman of Lockport, New York, who is fighting for recognition of her late husband’s service to his country on September 11, 2001. New York State Trooper Lawrence W. Lakeman was among as many as 4,000 members of the State Police who were sent to Manhattan in the wake of the attack on the World Trade Center. Lawrence worked at Ground Zero from September until December 2001, yet due to understandable delay in filing, the Workers Compensation Board has denied death benefits for his widow in connection with his service. Because pancreatic cancer was not recognized as a 9/11-related illness until 2014, Audra Lakeman had no way of knowing she ought to file a claim, which she did less than 18 months later in August of 2015. This ought not be categorically unqualifying, especially when the underlying facts of the case are clear and compelling, like they are for Trooper Lakeman. I strongly urge the Board to promptly review the application and approve it.
In 2006, Lakeman fell ill as a result of his exposure to toxins at Ground Zero and related sites. Less than two years later, he died of pancreatic cancer. During his illness and treatments, Lakeman continued to work as a New York State Trooper, trying to keep his family financially stable. Neither Lakeman nor his now-widow could have known they might be eligible for survivors’ benefits until 2015. Due to this lapse, Audra is still waiting for 9/11 victims compensation from New York State. The New York State Police have recognized that Lakeman’s illness and death were 9/11-related and his family will receive payment from the federal Victims Compensation Fund. However, that Audra is still waiting for action from the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, is unjust and unacceptable. I am sensitive to the process and know that it plays a vital role in the coherent administration of programs, but that need must be weighed against the goal of fairness and justice. This program was for the victims of 9/11, like that of Trooper Lakeman, who answered the call and died as a result.
The bottom line is that Trooper Lakeman lost his life due to this service, and his widow and children deserve to be compensated fairly. I hope you will find a quick resolution to this issue so that Lawrence Lakeman’s family can find some peace and a measure of justice from a grateful state and nation.