9/11 responder who fought overseas and is ill finally gets good news on disability pension

NEW YORK — Retired Port Authority Detective Thomas McHale will tell you that he has survived enough acts of terrorism for one lifetime.

He was standing beneath the bomb that rocked the World Trade Center in 1993.

McHale was inside 5 World Trade when the first tower collapsed in 2001. Within six months of the attack, he was on a plane to Pakistan with the FBI to capture and kill terrorists. He raided safe houses and apprehended Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah.

While in Pakistan, a suicide bomber blew up a church beside the U.S. Embassy, killing two Americans. McHale ran in to help, despite the threat of unexploded grenades inside.

McHale said he always put the job first, to the detriment of his health.

In recent years, he’s had five operations. His heart and respiratory system are struggling. But the State of New York refused to grant him any answer on his claim for a disability pension.

Mchale has been wrangling with bureaucracy for over two years, so he decided to sit down with PIX11 News.

"I was not getting an answer as far as when I was getting a hearing, if I was getting a hearing, or a decision on my claims. It wasn’t until after your report, a month after airing your story on PIX11 that a decision is made," McHale said.

McHale finally got good news this week — his benefits have finally been approved.

“A huge, huge relief. A lot of frustration, anger - is gone,” McHale said. "Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, from my family. Thank you."

The New York State Comptroller’s Office did not wish to comment Friday on the length of time it took for McHale to get an answer.