On September 11th, 2001, the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, and the plane crash in Shanksville, PA resulted in almost 3,000 deaths. As disturbing as that figure is on its own, the subsequent fatalities from 9/11-related illnesses and injuries will soon surpass the original death toll.
Tens of thousands of responders and individuals who lived, worked, and studied near Ground Zero have been diagnosed with respiratory diseases, deadly cancers, and other debilitating health problems due to toxic dust exposure on 9/11 and in the weeks and months that followed.
The dust cloud that hung over Lower Manhattan for nearly eight months contained approximately 2,500 toxic and carcinogenic substances, including asbestos, lead, chromium, benzene, microscopic glass particles, and PCBs.
VCF Compensation and WTCHP Medical Care Available to NYC Cleanup Workers
The Zadroga Act was passed in 2010, named for the first NYPD officer to die from a 9/11-related disease. The Act led to the creation of two highly successful programs:
- The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP); providing quality medical care and monitoring to 9/11 survivors and responders.
- The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF); providing compensation to victims of 9/11 illnesses and injuries who have suffered damages such as lost income and emotional pain and suffering.
Cleanup workers who were present in what is now referred to as the 9/11 Exposure Zone, who are suffering from a 9/11-related illness, may be able to obtain medical treatment and financial compensation through the WTCHP and VCF.
NYC Cleanup Workers With 9/11 Related Illnesses Can Receive Compensation & Care
9/11 clean-up workers who have been diagnosed with a qualifying illness or injury should seek legal counsel and apply for WTCHP and VCF benefits. In addition to providing medical care and monitoring to individuals who were present at Ground Zero during the qualifying time frame, the WTCHP also certifies medical conditions for inclusion in the two benefit programs.
Even 9/11 clean-up workers diagnosed with a health problem that is not currently certified by the WTCHP may be eligible if the illness is associated with a certified illness. The majority of WTCHP-certified conditions fall under one of the categories below:
- Acute traumatic injuries
- Aerodigestive disorders
- Cancers (68 in total)
- Mental health disorders
From sleep apnea and asthma to brain cancer and substance abuse, the list of WTCHP certified illnesses is extensive. Here is the complete list of WTCHP-certified health conditions and injuries. A 9/11 fund lawyer can help 9/11 clean up workers protect their rights and determine how to proceed.
Cleanup Workers Present In The 9/11 Exposure Zone
“Exposure Zone” is the name given to the 1.5-mile radius around Ground Zero that was permeated by the cloud of toxic dust created on 9/11. Any cleanup crews who worked or volunteered within this zone between the qualifying dates, for a minimum of four hours, or any duration if working directly in the toxic dust cloud, may be eligible for VCF and WTCHP benefits and compensation.
How To Apply For VCF Compensation or WTCHP Medical Care
Any individual who worked or volunteered in construction and restoration, or helped with clean up and debris removal efforts, who is suffering from a qualifying medical condition, should apply for WTCHP medical care and VCF compensation. Applicants must submit Proof of Presence forms, showing their presence in the Exposure Zone during the qualifying dates. Supporting documentation may include, but is not limited to:
- Personnel rosters
- Injury reports
- Work orders
- Letter from employer or former employer
- Signed witness affidavit
- Other work documentation
Register By the Deadline
Clean-up workers who volunteered or worked in the Exposure Zone between September 11th, 2001 and May 30th, 2002 should register with the VCF before time runs out. Registration is not the same as filing a claim. Even those cleanup workers not diagnosed with a 9/11 medical condition should register, as this preserves their right to file a claim in the future. It’s important to note that the deadline to register is not the same for everyone. All claims registered with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund by July 29th, 2021 are considered timely, regardless of the date of diagnosis.
Those who do not register by July 29th, 2021 may still register, so long as it is within two years from the date that the victim knew their condition was 9/11-related. That clock begins to run on the date of World Trade Center Health Program certification, or when any other federal or state entity informed the victim that their condition is 9/11-related. A 9/11 attorney can help clean up workers determine eligibility, register to preserve their right to file, and obtain benefits and compensation if they are suffering from a 9/11-related illness or injury.
Register for Workers’ Compensation
9/11 cleanup workers and volunteers can also register with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board. This protects their right to file for workers’ comp in the future if they are diagnosed with a WTCHP-certified condition. To preserve this right, registration must be completed by September 11th, 2022.
Contact Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP Today
At Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP our Zadroga Act attorneys have successfully represented countless cleanup workers and volunteers present in the 9/11 Exposure Zone between September 11th, 2001 and May 30th, 2002. The application process can be complicated, and even minor errors can reduce or deny benefits and compensation. Do not attempt to navigate this process without skilled legal counsel. We will submit a medically-supported impact statement to the VCF on the victim’s behalf, ensuring their eligibility for the maximum compensation possible. Call Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP today at 212-983-3000 for a free and confidential consultation.