NYC Cleanup Workers Are Eligible for Help Through the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund
Post-9/11 attorneys assist claimants in obtaining the benefits they deserve
When the Twin Towers fell on September 11, 2001, they released tons of toxic dust into the air over lower Manhattan. In some areas of the city, the residue was thick enough to conjure images of a nuclear winter. And yet, authorities said the air was safe. Without assessing the potential dangers of exposure, they dispatched workers, unprepared and ill-equipped, to remove the heavy sediment that had collected on the streets, in the subways, and within the interiors of buildings. Immediately, cleanup workers complained of eye and lung ailments. Now, more than 16 years later, workers who participated in the city-wide cleanup are coming down with the same cancers known to afflict 9/11 first responders.
Fortunately, help is available for former cleanup workers from the WTC Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. If you participated in the post-attack cleanup, you may be eligible for free health screenings and medical treatment, as well as cash compensation. But you must act quickly so you don’t lose your rights. At Barasch & McGarry, our attorneys have been fighting for 9/11 compensation since the earliest health effects were detected. We are determined to see every victim of 9/11-related illness compensated, and we are ready to help you.
NYC cleanup workers can receive VCF benefits for 9/11-related cancers and respiratory illnesses
In response to the health crisis caused by exposure to toxic dust from Ground Zero, Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act in 2010 and reauthorized the Act in 2016. The law established the WTC Health Program to give free health screenings and medical treatment to 9/11 responders and survivors who developed illnesses traceable to the toxins released when the towers collapsed.
The law also created the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund to provide cash benefits. If you participated in the cleanup of lower Manhattan after the 9/11 attacks, you may be eligible for benefits in the Non-Responder NYC cleaning or maintenance work claimant category. Thousands of workers are potentially eligible, but as of August 31, 2017, only 1,038 workers had filed claims in this category.
Does your cleanup work make you eligible for VCF benefits?
WTC dust contained micro-particles of toxic elements including pulverized cement, glass, asbestos, silica, benzene and lead. Working in dust-covered areas made contamination inevitable, especially since so few workers received adequate protective gear. Official workers at Ground Zero received masks, but workers throughout the city were pretty much left to their own devices. The NYC Department of Health violated city, state, and federal law, abrogated its responsibility to provide guidance for tenants, and allowed landlords to self-regulate cleanup efforts. The result was a precautionary race to the bottom that saw cleanup workers operating with only paper masks in heavily contaminated areas.
In virtually no time, intense dust-cloud exposure became the source of new asthma diagnoses among various workers and residents of lower Manhattan. Because homes and offices were not properly evacuated and cleaned, they posed a persistent risk to occupants. As a result, the long-term disease we usually associate with 9/11 first responders and rescue/recovery workers have begun to emerge among other groups of exposed individuals, including cleanup workers.
To prove eligibility for 9/11 benefits, a cleanup worker must be able to show:
- Employment south of Canal Street from Sept. 11, 2001 to May 30, 2002; and
- Diagnosis of a cancer or specific respiratory illnesses linked to the toxic dust of the WTC
But to preserve your rights, you must register within the time permitted.
Deadline to register for 9/11 VCF has been extended
If you are a cleanup worker who has been diagnosed with any of the 68 cancers linked to WTC toxic dust, the deadline to apply for VCF benefits is two years from the date that your type of cancer was certified by the WTC Health Program — or any other governmental agency. However, your two-year period to register doesn’t start on the day of your cancer diagnosis. Rather, it starts only when you are made aware your cancer was linked to exposure to the WTC toxins. If you are closely related to a cleanup worker who died from a WTC-related cancer, your family has two years from the date of death to register. Please be sure to register and help spread the word about the strict two-year deadline to register a claim.
We can help with your application
Many people have tried to complete the VCF application on their own, only to learn that it requires answers to hundreds of questions and many documents to download. It would be our pleasure to help you complete the process to ensure you receive the compensation that you are entitled to. Please call us for a free consultation.
Contact Barasch & McGarry to pursue your WTC benefits
Barasch & McGarry has been fighting for WTC survivors since the beginning. Our firm has collected more money from the Victim Compensation Fund for its injured clients than any other law firm, and we are determined to help as many cleanup workers and others as possible. Call us at 888.351.9421 or contact us online to discuss your rights.