Following the devastating terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, countless first responders and people living, working, and studying near Ground Zero were afflicted with various debilitating and deadly illnesses. The primary cause of these illnesses was the toxic dust cloud that permeated Lower Manhattan immediately after the attacks, and for months after.
The mixture of carcinogenic and otherwise noxious substances, including asbestos, lead, benzene, PCBs, chromium, and glass particles, was inhaled by tens-of-thousands of people in what is now referred to as the “Exposure Zone.” If your health has been affected by exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero, contact the WTC Lawyers at Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP today for help with enrolling in the WTCHP.
What is the World Trade Center Health Program?
In 2010, the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act was established to provide medical treatment and compensation to 9/11 survivors and first responders. Named for the first NYPD officer to succumb to a 9/11-related illness, the Zadroga Act is comprised of two parts—the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP), which covers related medical care, and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), which provides compensation for lost income, emotional pain and suffering, and other associated damages.
The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) was established by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 (the Zadroga Act) to provide medical treatment to 9/11 survivors and first responders.
How Does the WTC Health Program Work?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Trade Center Health Program has multiple Clinical Centers of Excellence (CCE) throughout the New York (NY) tri-state area. The Nationwide Provider Network (NPN) provides care to members outside of the New York City metro. New WTCHP members receive a welcome letter with information on how to schedule their first evaluation. Once 9/11 illness victims are enrolled in the WTCHP, they will visit a CCE or NPN provider for their initial health evaluation.
Who is Eligible for the World Trade Center Health Program?
Any individual who was a first responder at one of the 9/11 sites, including NYC, the Pentagon, and the Shanksville, PA crash site, and survivors in those disaster areas on or shortly after 9/11 may be eligible for medical benefits through the WTCHP. Eligibility is further determined by an individual’s ability to show that they were present at one of these sites and suffer from a medical condition certified by the WTCHP.
How to Apply for the WTCHP?
It is in the best interest of anyone with a 9/11-related illness to consult with a WTC lawyer to begin the application process for WTCHP benefits. The process can be confusing, but an experienced attorney can ensure that the application is submitted accurately and in a timely manner. The WTCHP application must include documentation of the individual’s status as a 9/11 survivor or first responder. The following documentation may be used:
- Proof of home, work, or school address during or shortly after September 11th, 2001;
- Proof of presence in the 9/11 dust cloud;
- Proof of work as a first responder, volunteer, or in 9/11 clean up efforts; and
- Proof of the duration of time at the qualifying location.
The application must also show that the applicant is suffering from a WTCHP-certified health condition. In addition to WTCHP benefits, victims of 9/11-related illnesses may be entitled to compensation for lost income, pain and suffering, and other related costs through the VCF. Contact the WTC Lawyers at Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP today if you have questions about the World Trade Center Health Program or the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does the WTCHP differ from the 9/11 Victims Fund?
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund is an entirely separate program from the World Trade Center Health Program and is run by a different federal agency – the Department of Justice for the VCF and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the World Trade Center Health Program. The VCF now requires that all survivor claimants be certified by the World Trade Center Health Program, with limited exceptions.
The VCF will only inquire with the WTCHP about applicants’ illnesses or injuries if they file a claim for compensation. However, anyone who has suffered injuries related to the September 11th attacks should apply to both programs. The WTCHP will provide documentation for the associated VCF claim, and VCF will calculate compensation based on that documentation and any resulting damages.
What are 9/11 Illnesses covered under the WTCHP?
The list of certified conditions is extensive, but the most common include:
- Acute traumatic injuries, such as brain or eye injuries;
- Aerodigestive disorders;
- Cancers; and
- Mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The above list is far from exhaustive. Here is the complete list of WTCHP-certified health conditions and injuries. Furthermore, even certain conditions that are not currently certified may be eligible for compensation if associated with a certified condition. One of our WTC lawyers can help survivors and first responders determine eligibility and proceed with a compensation claim.
Hiring a WTCHP Lawyer To Navigate The Process
Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP, enrolls our clients in the WTCHP and guides them throughout the certification process. The WTCHP also provides free medical care, annual cancer screenings, and prescription benefits for 9/11-related conditions. For a free consultation with one of our WTC lawyers to learn about compensation for cancer or another condition, contact us or call 212-983-3000.