Health and Safety

9/11 Workers Have One Week to Register for Benefits

September 8, 2014
By Marc Bussanich

New York, NY—Worker advocates at City Hall on Friday implored the public who might have worked at the World Trade Center site to help with the rescue, recovery and cleanup efforts after the 9/11 attacks to register with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board before the 13th anniversary of 9/11 or else forgo future compensation benefits.

They advised anyone who still needs to register to go to the following website and print out the application: http://www.wcb.ny.gov/content/main/forms/wtc-12.pdf

In the accompanying video, said reporter interviews Charlene Obernauer, executive director for the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, by saying that the public needs to file a claim with New York’s workers compensation board. But as Congressman Jerrod Nadler makes clear in the video, who represents the Ground Zero area impacted by 9/11, the deadline is for the public to register first with the board so that they can file a claim for benefits if they should ever need assistance.

“Again, this is not a claim. This is not saying, ‘I have been hurt, I [need] to claim money. This is saying that ‘I was there. If I later find out that I was hurt, I can then decide to file a claim.’ All this is doing is reserving the right to file a claim later should you find out that you get sick and you think it may have something to do with 9/11. All this is is registering, it is not filing a claim,” said Nadler.

Ms. Obernauer said NYCOSH organized the presser to ensure that as many as people as possible learn about the upcoming deadline.

“We want everyone to know just how many people are eligible and what the eligibility requirements are. A lot of people think if they’re sick that’s when they need to register. But you should register whether or not you are sick because if you do get sick, you need to be registered by this deadline in order to receive benefits,” said Obernauer.

She noted that after workers fill out the application available at http://www.wcb.ny.gov/content/main/forms/wtc-12.pdf, they will be entitled to a variety of benefits.

“It entitles them to wage replacement benefits as well as medical benefits. For some people they might not be able to work after they’ve had cancer or other kinds of respiratory illnesses. So it would give them wage replacement benefits to make up for lost work time, as well as medical benefits to make sure they are covered,” Obernauer said. 

And should the workers not come forward before the deadline, Obernauer said they might be missing out on wage replacement benefits. She said there are different programs available, such as the World Trade Center Health Program, but the key difference with registering with the state workers compensation board is that it offers wage replacement benefits.

“That’s huge; it’s not just enough to have medical care but you also need to have wage replacement so that if you are no longer able to work you do have some kind of salary coming to support yourself and your family,” said Obernauer.

According to an official at the state workers' compenstation board, about 41,363 individuals to date have registered.

@marcbuss marc@labopress.org

September 5, 2014

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