Deadlines are approaching quickly for rescue workers and first responders who helped with the 9/11 recovery efforts and now suffer illnesses related to toxic dust exposure. For claimants that were diagnosed on or before October 12, 2012 with one of the cancers added to the list of eligible conditions on that date, the deadline to register with the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) is October 12, 2014. Claimants who register are not required to file a claim for compensation at any time. Registering with the VCF simply preserves the right to file a claim in the future is necessary.
Claimants can file online, or submit a hard copy Eligibility Form. If neither of these is plausible, individuals can also fill out and submit an Interim Registration form; follow-up actions are needed if this form is used.
According to The PBA Beat, claimants who were diagnosed with prostate cancer on or before October 21, 2013 have until October 21, 2015 to register. Claimants diagnosed with a cancer categorized as a “rare cancer” on or before February 18, 2014 must register by February 18, 2016.
The VCF was reopened for another five years by the James Zadroga Act, which also established the World Trade Center Health Program to monitor and treat 9/11 victims. According to the New York Daily News, the program has as many as 65,000 participants.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing to reauthorize the Zadroga Act, which would keep the VCF and the WTC Health Program open for another 25 years. Currently, the VCF and WTC Health Program are due to expire in October 2016 and October 2015, respectively.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 2,900 people have been diagnosed with a 9/11-related cancer. Rescue workers have been diagnosed with prostate and thyroid cancer, leukemia and multiple myeloma at a significantly rate than the general population, 9/11 Health Watch reports. Other 9/11-related illnesses include asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease, and gastroesophageal reflux disease.