The state’s highest court today ruled in favor of two Sept. 11 first responders and the widow of a third after they were denied benefits after working in and around the Ground Zero site following the attacks 12 years ago.

The state Court of Appeals in a ruling issued earlier this morning found that former police officers Karen Bitchatchi and Eddie Maldonado are entitled to receive disability benefits and a more generous pension than the usual half-salary pension that’s taxable.

At the same time, the judges ruled that the surviving widow of Frank Macri is entitled to full death benefits after he succumbed to cancer following his work at the World Trade Center site and later Fresh Kills landfill.

The court determined that the state law governing disability payments to first repsonders require credible and competent evidence in order to deny benefits.

When the Board fails to rebut the presumption, the WTC statute presumes causation and contemplates the award of ADR benefits — even if the claimant offers no medical proof. In these two cases, the presumption was not rebutted and, therefore, petitioners were entitled to the benefit upgrades.

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