Orange County NYPD officer's widow still fighting to receive late husband's 9/11 benefits
An Orange County NYPD widow who won a lawsuit this year against New York City is still fighting to receive her husband's 9/11 benefits more than 3 years after his death.
"People said they'd never forget and they're all forgetting," Cathy Hanson says.
Her husband, Mike Hanson, spent eight months during rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero as part of the NYPD's elite Emergency Service Unit.
"When the first plane hit, he was out of the house in five minutes. We didn't see him for about 10 days and then he stayed down there until they pulled the last pillar out in May 2002," Hanson says.
Both she and her husband raised their three daughters in Highland Mills during his distinguished, two-decade career in law-enforcement until he retired in 2006.
In 2018, at 60 years old, Mike Hanson was diagnosed with ALS from what his wife says was toxic metals he was exposed to at Ground Zero.
"Seeing him was the toughest thing ever. It was, sorry. I couldn't help him," she recalls.
Mike Hanson died six months later.
Despite medical records and an autopsy that linked his illness to 9/11, Cathy Hanson says her survivor benefits have been denied 10 times.
"They just said it's not considered a 9/11 illness," she says.
Cathy Hanson won a lawsuit against New York City and the Victims Compensation Fund in January but the city filed an appeal, once again, and stalled on the pension payments.
"It's frustrating, but it just makes me want to fight," she says. "I'm never going to stop fighting. I promised Mike."
Cathy Hanson's attorney says the city has six months to move forward with the appeal or withdraw it, which is what Cathy Hanson hopes for, so that her husband's service and ultimate sacrifice are recognized.
News 12 reached out to the New York City Law Department for comment on this case but they were not immediately available.