There is no question that leukemia is a WTC-Related Physical Health Condition for which 9/11 victims, first-responders and recovery workers who have been diagnosed with the condition may obtain compensation from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). In order for leukemia patients to be eligible for VCF compensation, as well as cost-free treatment under the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP), a doctor or other medical professional needs to determine that the leukemia is related to your 9/11 exposure.
But even if you have been certified by the WTCHP as having 9/11-related leukemia, you still may be facing an uphill battle to obtain benefits from other sources, such as workers’ compensation and disability, as one federal agent suffering from 9/11-related leukemia has learned.
As recently reported in the New York Daily News, Special Agent Terence Opiola, a U.S. Customs Service criminal investigator, spent months after 9/11 at Ground Zero searching through the ruins for missing case evidence from the agency’s offices, which had been located at 6 World Trade Center. He also spent time at the Fresh Kills landfill looking for evidence.
Opiola was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago, and that leukemia was certified by the WTCHP as being 9/11-related, allowing him to obtain compensation from the VCF and treatment under the WTCHP.
9/11-related conditions can be the basis for compensation and benefits from sources other than the VCF, such as Social Security Disability, workers’ compensation, and life insurance policies. Given that Agent Opiola acquired leukemia and a host of other 9/11-related conditions while performing his job, he applied for disability through workers’ compensation benefits.
Even though Opiola’s doctors, the WTCHP, and the VCF had all confirmed his leukemia as 9/11-related, the US Department of Labor, which administers the workers’ compensation program for federal employees applying to Opiola, sent him a letter denying his claim because he had failed to prove that his leukemia was related to 9/11.
Understandably, Opiola was dumbfounded and angry. He is currently appealing the denial of his workers’ comp claim. But that he must deal with such a problem in the first place shines a light on the challenges many 9/11 victims can encounter when seeking compensation for their cancer or other illnesses.
Agent Opiola’s ordeal is just one example of why over 80% of all 9/11 victims choose to have a 9/11 lawyer help them with their claims.
At Turley Hansen & Rosasco, we have been helping survivors, first responders, and recovery workers recover compensation since shortly after the World Trade Center fell. Our extensive experience and deep commitment to 9/11 victims has resulted in the recovery of over $100 million in VCF compensation on behalf of almost 2000 clients.
If you have questions about 9/11 victim compensation or need assistance with your claim, please contact the 9/11 lawyers Turley Hansen & Rosasco today and request a FREE CLAIM REVIEW with one of our experienced 9/11 lawyers. Call 1-855-WTC-INFO (1-855-982-4636) today. We look forward to assisting you.