The World Trade Center Health Program provides health screenings and treatment for 9/11 responders and others suffering from the effects of the terrorists attacks in New York as well as the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. For the last 18 months, the WTC Health Program has seen increased applications to enroll in the program, leading to longer-than-acceptable wait times for initial health screenings and certification. These are necessary not only for WTC Health Program services but also for September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) benefits.
The WTC Health Program attributes the uptick in enrollment to two factors:
- Ongoing outreach efforts by the program and others that raise awareness among potential enrollees
- The VCF’s new requirement that claimants have the WTC Health Program certify their health conditions to facilitate VCF compensation
The WTC Health Program assures the public it is “taking active steps” to deal with increased wait times and is considering options to expand the program’s capacity to process new applications.
At Barasch & McGarry, we can point to a couple of additional reasons for an increase in Health Program applicants:
- Diseases with long latency periods are emerging — As more time passes, more cancers that take a decade or longer to develop are starting to impact the population of survivors. Officials are keeping a close eye on mesothelioma, a particularly deadly cancer that can take from 10 to 40 years to strike.
- Persons who did not identify as 9/11 survivors are finding they belong to an affected cohort — The focus of these programs has always been on 9/11 first responders, rescue/recovery workers and civilians caught in the toxic dust cloud at Ground Zero. However, 9/11-related cancers are starting to emerge among teachers and students in Lower Manhattan schools as well as individuals who lived or worked below Canal Street in the days, weeks, and months following the attacks. These people now realize the risk of their own exposure and are seeking guidance.
As attorneys who have been fighting for 9/11 victims’ rights since the beginning, Barasch & McGarry urges anyone who has received a diagnosis of an illness linked to 9/11 to register immediately with the Victim Compensation Fund. Don’t let a delay at the WTC Health Program prevent you from meeting the legal requirement that you register with VCF within two years of a diagnosis.
For a free consultation with a knowledgeable attorney who can help you obtain the benefits you deserve, please contact us online or call Barasch & McGarry at [ln::phone].