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Published: September, 2010; Vol 7, Num 4

 

Deadline Here for 9/11 Compensation Registration

Choking dust. Jagged debris. Noxious fumes.

Laborers working at Ground Zero following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack at the World Trade Center were exposed to all. Now, increasing numbers are ill. This makes the approaching ninth anniversary of the attack particularly significant.

September 13, 2010, is the last day to register for future workers’ compensation claims tied to rescue and clean-up work at Ground Zero. It is an extension of the original deadline of September 11, which, this year, falls on a Saturday.

Many Laborers worked at the Ground Zero site.

An estimated 100,000 workers and volunteers may be eligible for 9/11 compensation. Regardless of when illness appears, even if it is years from now, you are only eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you have registered by September 13. Only about 40,000 have completed the necessary paperwork.

“It is essential that everyone involved in the rescue and clean-up, whether it was one day or the entire year, register. If you develop a 9/11-related illness after the deadline and you did not sign up, you will not be compensated,” says Dr. Jim Melius, the LHSFNA’s Research Division Director and Administrator of the New York State Laborers’ Health and Safety Trust Fund (NYSLHSTF). “Health problems, especially of the lower respiratory system or cancer, can take years to develop. Even now, every month, another 200 workers report onset of symptoms and enroll in World Trade Center monitoring and treatment programs. If you worked at Ground Zero, there is a significant chance that you will develop an illness.”

Residency, citizenship and immigration status are not factors for workers’ compensation claims in New York State.

The eligible include those who worked, no matter how briefly, paid or unpaid, in lower Manhattan south of Canal or Pike Streets between September 11, 2001, and September 12, 2002. Workers at the Staten Island landfill, the barge operation between Manhattan and Staten Island, the New York City morgue or any temporary morgues also qualify.

Workers’ compensation can pay all medical expenses for work-related sicknesses and injuries. It also pays two-thirds of average weekly wages up to the current maximum of $500 if the sick and injured are unable to work.

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, recently defeated in a House of Representatives vote, was crafted to pick up where workers’ compensation leaves off.  Named for a New York City police detective who died in 2006 from 9/11-related respiratory disease, the $7.4 billion measure would provide health care and compensation to anyone made sick from either service at Ground Zero or from living and working in the surrounding area. Funding issues led the House to reject the bill, but the legislation has the support of President Obama and is expected to get another look in coming weeks.

Regardless, registering for 9/11 workers’ compensation is crucial.

Registration forms are available online at http://www.wcb.state.ny.us/content/main/forms/WTC-12.pdf

More information is available through the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) website at www.nycosh.org, by calling the toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-866-WTC-2566 or by contacting the NYSLHSTF at 800-797-5931.

For a free medical examination for WTC workers, contact Mount Sinai Medical Center at 888-702-0630.

[Janet Lubman Rathner]