Building Trades

Window Closing for 9/11 Responders to Register Claims

June 25, 2013
By Marc Bussanich

Al Hagan and Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler urge 9/11 responders to register health claims

Al Hagan (l.) and Reps. Maloney and Nadler urge 9/11 responders to register health claims

New York, NY—It was a long, hard fight in Congress for both houses to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in late 2010 and now 9/11 responders and survivors have only 100 days to file claims for economic losses with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Watch Video

At a press conference in front of 7 World Trade Center on Monday, U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) warned that responders and survivors will not be eligible to recoup economic losses if they don’t register online before October 3, 2013.

“The point is, whether you’re sick or not, remember to register. If you do not register, then the program cannot help you. So you must register,” said Congresswoman Maloney.

While there is a deadline to register for economic compensation, the WTC Health Program via the Zadroga law doesn’t impose a time limit for those who lived and worked in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn in the year following the 9/11 attacks, and were exposed to dangerous toxins, to access free medical exams, medications and treatment.

Reps. Maloney and Nadler noted that nearly 12 years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, many people who volunteered at Ground Zero are still not aware of the free medical monitoring and treatment for covered conditions.  

But there may be another reason why people are not stepping forward.

Al Hagan, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, the union that represents 2,500 lieutenants, captains and battalion chiefs of the FDNY, said that many members suffered emotional trauma from participating in rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero after the attacks.

“They can’t even think about that day. If they see an article about 9/11, they won’t read it. We have been sending countless communications to our membership advising them to sign up, but they won’t open them because it says ‘9/11’ or ‘WTC.’ And that’s why it’s going to be difficult to get everybody to sign up,” said Hagan.

John Feal, president of the Feal Good Foundation, an organization he founded to help first responders contact medical and legal professionals and secure financial assistance, was severely injured five days after 9/11 during the rescue and recovery efforts at Ground Zero. As badly injured as he was, he said his injury pales in comparison to those suffering and dying from innumerable diseases, such as asthma, pulmonary fibrosis, tumors and respiratory problems.

“We no longer have to prove to anybody that 9/11 and its aftermath made us safe. They have to prove that 9/11 didn’t make us safe. For years, they said we were crying wolf. The fact of the matter is, the wolf ate us,” said Feal.

Responders and survivors can register online for economic losses with the Victims Compensation Fund (www.vcf.gov) and apply for the WTC Health Program via www.nycosh.org/wtc.

Follow Marc Bussanich on Twitter marc@laborpress.org

June 25, 2013

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