Working in the toxic conditions at Ground Zero left many 9/11 responders ill with respiratory illnesses, cancer and other conditions. Some rescue workers have died as a result of toxic dust exposure, others are still suffering from 9/11-related conditions and some may not even realize that their health has been impacted. The James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act is a bill that was passed in 2010 in order to provide aid to sick responders and survivors. It provides compensation, as well as medical treatment and monitoring. But these benefits will not last long if the Act is not renewed.
The Zadroga Act reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), which provides compensation to individuals who became ill and their families, as well to the families of rescue workers who died due to a 9/11-related illness. The VCF is due to expire in October 2016. The World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program, which was also created through the Zadroga Act, provides medical treatment and monitoring to thousands of first responders around the country. The program, which is due to expire in October 2015, monitors participants in all 50 states and 429 out of 435 Congressional districts.
If the Zadroga Act is not renewed, injured 9/11 victims will no longer receive these benefits. Parker Waichman LLP, a national law firm that has spent many years fighting for the rights of 9/11 victims and their families, is advocating for the renewal of the Zadroga Act. Without the WTC Health Program and VCF, many sick responders will not get the compensation and medical care they need. If you or a loved one became ill after working at Ground Zero and want more information about applying for benefits, contact Parker Waichman LLP today.
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Lawmakers who recognize this important need have mobilized to reauthorize the Zadroga Act. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and other legislators have co-sponsored a bill to renew the benefits. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Senator Scott Garrett of New Jersey recently joined as co-sponsors.
Renewing the Zadroga Act would extend the VCF, providing compensation to individuals who have been diagnosed with an eligible condition. Extending these benefits is especially important, as some conditions take years to develop. As such, the list of conditions deemed as eligible under the Zadroga Act may grow. On April 27, 2015, the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology published a study showing that responders were twice as likely to develop an autoimmune disease; the risk increased 13 percent with each additional month working at the site. The most common autoimmune disease identified in the study was rheumatoid arthritis. The Zadroga Act does not currently provide coverage for autoimmune diseases, but this may change in the future as evidence continues to emerge.
The toxic dust rescue workers were exposed to at Ground Zero has been linked to a number of serious illnesses, including many different types of cancer, asthma, obstructive pulmonary disease and gastro-esophageal reflux disease. According to a press release posted on Senator Gillibrand’s website, the number of responders and survivors afflicted with an illness due to 9/11 exceed 30,000. More than two-thirds of these individuals suffer from more than one condition. Many of these individuals have become disabled and forced into early retirement due to their conditions.
Over 60 types of cancer have been associated with toxic dust exposure. The attacks have been linked to 2,900 cases of cancer. Illnesses related to 9/11 have afflicted over 800 members of the New York City Fire Department and more than 550 members of the New York City Police Department. According to the press release on Senator Gillibrand’s website, more than 70 firefighters and 60 NYPD officers have died due to illness caused by the attacks.
Fallen first responders were recently honored at a ceremony held in Nesconset, Long Island. The names of one hundred rescue workers who died due to 9/11 related illnesses were added to the memorial wall at Responders Remembered Park. More than 500 names have been added to the wall since it was first unveiled in 2011.
Ground Zero workers answered the call for help when the nation needed them most. Some have given their lives in this effort, and many continue to suffer as a result of toxic dust exposure. Parker Waichman LLP continues to support the renewal of the Zadroga Act and urges anyone with questions about their rights to contact one of our attorneys today.
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