Widow fights to get husband's 9/11 compensation check

Nina Pineda Image
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Widow fights for late husband's 9/11 settlement checks
7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda has the details.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- They were the unsung heroes of 9/11; men who tirelessly worked at ground zero, months after the buildings fell. One widow says she's in a battle to get a 9/11 compensation check, re-issued.

"It was his obligation he felt as a citizen of the United States, that he should go down and be a hero. He was our hero," said Lizbeth Buck, a widow.

She's talking about her husband, Brian. Her husband first helped recover victims, then for months worked the water trucks, hosing down the smoking pile of debris after the attacks. He died five months ago.

"He couldn't breathe anymore. He lost about 100 pounds in a month," Buck said.

As a first responder, Brian Buck was receiving compensation for his 9/11 related illnesses. Last fall he received this final settlement check came for more than $3,500.

"So I sign on the back and go to our bank and she says, 'No, he's deceased you can't cash that,'" Buck said.

So, Lizbeth says she contacted the law firm asking to send a new check in her late husband's estate instead. But that check never came. Lizbeth says for three months the law firm ignored her calls and emails.

"(I'm) shocked that lawyers who are supposed to be helping all these sick people would treat the widow the way they're treating me," says Lizbeth.

In the meantime, their home is facing foreclosure. So we called the law firm and just minutes after our interview, Lizbeth got a call from the firm, claiming it never got her original letter containing the voided check, despite signing for it back in October. And 24 hours later, a FedEx pouch arrived, with a new check.

"Thank you so much," Buck said.

The law firm said it needed to make sure Lizbeth was eligible to get her late husband's benefits and sent the check out as soon as that was verified. Napoli Bern is assisting thousands of victims suffering from 9/11 illnesses.

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund as you know just got a big boost from the 75 year extension from the Zadroga Act but people who become sick need to be aware they have two years from the date of diagnosis of eligible cancers to register to receive any funds or medical coverage.