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A Critical Deadline Approaches for 9/11 Responders
In the weeks and months following the 9/11 attacks, thousands of LIUNA members participated in cleanup efforts that would result in lifelong impacts on their physical and mental health. The passage of the James Zadroga Act led to the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF).
As the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches, so does an important deadline for 9/11 survivors and responders. Anyone who registered with the WTC Health Program before July 29, 2019 must register with the VCF by July 29, 2021. Missing this deadline now could mean losing your right to file a claim and get the compensation you deserve if you develop a 9/11-related illness in the future.
“Thousands of LIUNA members were among the brave men and women who risked their health without asking anything in return. They helped this country in its time of need and they deserve the best care we can provide,” says LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan. “If you were at the World Trade Center site, Pentagon crash site or Shanksville, Pennsylvania crash site, please register with the WTC Health Program and the VCF so you can access these programs if you need them.”
What Is the Difference Between the WTC Health Program and the VCF?
While the WTC Health Program and the VCF work closely together in many ways, the two programs are separate, with their own registration processes and eligibility criteria:
- The WTC Health Program provides medical treatment for 9/11 responders and survivors.
- The VCF provides financial compensation to eligible individuals who have been diagnosed with a 9/11-related illness.
Enrolling with the WTC Health Program does not automatically register you with the VCF. Registering with either program does not automatically start the claims process. The VCF recommends waiting to file a claim until after you have enrolled in the WTC Health Program and been certified for a 9/11-related physical health condition.
Who Does the July 29 VCF Registration Deadline Apply To?
VCF registration deadlines are not the same for everyone; they are based on when a person is certified by the WTC Health Program. The upcoming VCF registration deadline applies to those who were certified by the WTC Health Program for a 9/11-related physical health condition before July 29, 2019. The July 29, 2021 deadline is intended to give people who missed earlier deadlines a chance to register.
The upcoming deadline does not apply to people who have not yet been certified by the WTC Health Program or to those who were certified after July 29, 2019. Those individuals may choose to register by the July 29, 2021 deadline, but are not required to. Everyone is required to register with the VCF within two years of the date the WTC Health Program certifies their physical health condition as 9/11 related.
Why Is It Important to Register Now?
Registering with the VCF preserves your right to file a claim in the future if you do get sick. Many of the conditions caused by exposure to the toxic substances at the crash sites can take years to develop. Registering with the VCF is not the same as filing a claim, does not start the claims process and does not obligate you to file a claim. You don’t have to be sick with a 9/11-related condition to register.
Because the goal of registration is to preserve your right to file a claim, the VCF recommends registering, even if you are not sick or have not yet been certified by the WTC Health Program. You can register with the VCF online at www.vcf.gov or over the phone by calling 855-885-1555. You can also visit this site or use this free helpline for questions or additional information.