What Are Your Next Steps Regarding the 9/11 Notice Act?

What Are Your Next Steps Following the 9-11 Notice Act - Weisfuse & Weisfuse LLP-min

The signing into law of the “9/11 Notice Act” on September 11th, 2023, means that employers must inform past and present employees about their possible eligibility for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) and the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP).

Although these programs have been available to responders and survivors of the attacks in New York for some time, many eligible citizens are not enrolled in the programs and are unaware of their eligibility for free health care and compensation.

Those who were in the exposure zone in the aftermath of the attacks should know the following information about the 9/11 Notice Act, the steps required to claim benefits, and how a 9/11 attorney may be able to help.

What is the 9/11 Notice Act?

The 9/11 Notice Act will alert an estimated 300,000 to 360,000 civilian survivors of 9/11 of their eligibility to enroll in programs that provide free lifetime medical care and substantial compensation for 9/11-related illnesses.

This is the large majority of those adversely affected by the 9/11 attacks and includes office workers, retail workers, students, and residents who returned to their places of work/study and homes in the mistaken belief that the toxic air of Lower Manhattan was safe to breathe.

The law requires New York State to:

“Develop rules and regulations necessary to promote awareness and notification to any past or present businesses and their employees which operated in the New York disaster area during the eligible time period of their potential eligibility under the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and the World Trade Center Health Program. This subdivision shall apply to both current and former employees.”

Under the new law, which comes into effect on June 14th, 2024:

“The [NYS] Department of Economic Development shall determine the most appropriate message and format that the state agencies may use to assist potentially eligible employers and employees with such awareness or notification. The Department of Economic Development shall be authorized to consult with the special master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and the program administrator of the World Trade Center Health Program relating to matters including, but not limited to,  messaging and format to be used in the promotion of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and the World Trade Center Health Program and if the messages should be tailored for the specific geographic areas covered by the World Trade Center Health Program in a different manner than those covered by both the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.”

The Notice Act requires employers with more than 50 employees on or after 9/11 to educate their employees from that time of their right to lifetime 9/11-related healthcare via the WTCHP and compensation via the VCF.

New messaging from employers will bring awareness to hundreds of thousands of individuals who are eligible to enroll in the programs and who are already suffering from a 9/11-related condition—or may develop one in the future.

Rights and benefits under the 9/11 benefit programs

The rights and benefits associated with the two 9/11 benefit programs are not restricted to the first responders but available to civilian survivors in the workforce who were in the exposure zone (anywhere south of Canal Street) in the days, weeks or months that followed the 9/11 attacks.

Individuals do not need to have been in the dust cloud or present on 9/11 to be eligible. Assistance is available to anyone in the exposure zone between 9/11 and May 30, 2002.

Some of the rights and benefits from these programs include:

  • Medical care and compensation for almost any cancer diagnosed in the 20+ years since the attacks (69 different cancers)
  • Medical care and compensation for many respiratory and lung-related conditions
  • Medical care and compensation for many digestive disorders

The 9/11 benefit programs are open until 2090, so help will likely be available to any eligible individual who develops any of the above types of conditions in their lifetimes.

Even if a loved one has been lost to cancer, respiratory illness or a digestive condition during the eligible period, compensation may be available.

For anyone unsure whether they qualify, an attorney can assist in establishing the causal link with cancer or another condition suspected of resulting from presence in the exposure zone, even many years later.

Why Act Now?

Tragically, tens of thousands of individuals exposed to the toxic dust that spewed from Ground Zero for months after the attacks have gotten sick or perished from a 9/11 cancer or breathing/digestive illness. 

For those who are currently sick from a 9/11-related condition and have not enrolled in the programs, doing so should be a priority. 

However, even individuals who are not sick but were present in Lower Manhattan during the eligible period (until May 30, 2002) should act without delay. 

Acting now ensures that future rights to free healthcare and compensation under the WTCHP and VCF are protected. Even though the programs remain open until 2090, considerable documentation may be required before approval for the programs is granted. 

For instance, written proof of presence in the 9/11 Disaster Area during the eligible period is required, which may involve gathering witness statements. While a 9/11 attorney can help with this, the task becomes more challenging with each passing year.  

By applying sooner rather than later, victims of cancer, breathing-related disorders, gastrointestinal conditions, and some other adverse health conditions related to 9/11, receive both healthcare and compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings, and other losses. 

How can a trusted 9/11 attorney help?

The 9/11 benefit programs can provide much-needed support for victims who have paid a heavy price for simply returning to their homes or places of work/study in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

However, receiving approval from the programs can be challenging with all the “red tape”. A trusted 9/11 attorney is accustomed to these challenges and will protect the legal rights of victims under the 9/11 Notice Act while providing valuable guidance on how to claim free medical care and compensation if the need arises in the future.

To discuss your situation and learn more about how we may be able to help you, please call Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP at 332-239-2238 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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