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Options for 9/11 Victims Struggling with Mental Health Issues

The psychological aftermath of being involved in an event such as 9/11 can be just as painful, debilitating and real as any physical injury. Even more than a decade later, many first responders still struggle with flashbacks, anxiety, depression and other serious psychiatric symptoms. For some, these issues can reach disabling severity. For others, they can directly bring about secondary problems like alcoholism, drug addiction and attempted suicide.

For many years, those who suffered from these types of disorders were marginalized. Fortunately, we know better today and mental health professionals strive to identify these conditions and ensure sufferers get the treatment they need. Unfortunately, the regulations governing the Victims Compensation Fund still limit disbursements to those suffering from physical conditions only. Given how far the fund has already progressed, this is likely to remain the case.

However, those who suffer from psychological conditions as a result of their service or physical presence at or in the aftermath of 9/11 do have alternatives to the VCF:

  • The WTC Health Program allows first responders from any of the attack sites as well as survivors from the WTC disaster area to qualify for medical care benefits if they suffer from any one of several mental health conditions as a result of their presence at the 9/11 attacks.
  • A special program by the Workers’ Compensation Board of the State of New York allows participants in rescue, recovery and cleanup operations in NYC who developed a recognized DSM axis I diagnosis as a result to receive compensation.

While our attorneys at Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson concentrate principally on Victims Compensation Fund claims under the Zadroga Act, as part of our overall commitment to assisting 9/11 victims and their families, we also strive to steer those who may not qualify for the VCF in the right direction.

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