How to Apply for the 9/11 World Trade Center Health Program

By Troy Rosasco

Many of our clients tell us that the free, lifetime, comprehensive, world class medical care provided by the WTC Health Program is just as important to them as any money they might receive from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. After all, many are facing life-threatening illnesses and cancers and their current medical insurance, if they have any at all, may be inadequate or lead to bankruptcy. This is why the 9/11 lawyers at Hansen & Rosasco work so hard to make sure your application and evidence is complete. You need these benefits to protect both your health and your savings. We complete your application as quickly as possible so you can take care of your health.

  • Were you in Lower Manhattan when the World Trade Center collapsed on September 11, 2001?
  • Did you live, work, or go to school in Lower Manhattan below Houston Street during the months that followed up until July 31, 2002?
  • Were you a 9/11 first responder, such as a firefighter, police officer, EMT, Red Cross, ambulance worker, FBI, National Guard, Pentagon rescuer?
  • Were you a utility worker, such as a Con Ed, Verizon or Time Warner worker?
  • Did you handle debris or help with the cleanup, such as sanitation workers, construction workers, transportation workers or office cleaners?
  • Did you work at the New York City morgues or the Fresh Kills landfill?
  • Did you run a business near Ground Zero?

If so, you might qualify for free healthcare treatment and/or medical monitoring from the federal World Trade Center Health Program for a 9/11 related condition
One of the fastest and most efficient ways is to apply for the World Trade Center Health Program and the Victim Compensation Fund is to hire a WTC law firm, such as Hansen & Rosasco, who works exclusively helping first responders and survivors of the September 11 atrocities seek benefits. Here’s why.

What Our 9/11 Lawyers Do First to get you into the WTC Health Program

Determine Eligibility

When applying for membership in the WTC Health Program, our attorneys will need to determine your eligibility for the program. To do this, our attorney will evaluate “where you were” between September 11, 2001 and July 31, 2002. In order to be eligible for the WTC Health Program, you must have been “present” in Manhattan south of Houston Street or any block in Brooklyn that is within 1.5 miles of Ground Zero. (see map of “NYC Disaster Area” below – Pentagon and Shanksville responders have different standards).

There are also strict exposure length time requirements and the need for written affidavits from witnesses or other documents to prove where you were. Call our lawyers today to see if you have the evidence to qualify for these invaluable medical benefits. These lifetime medical benefits will allow you to seek treatment and opinions at some of the finest medical institutions in America. In the New York area, these may include Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, NYU Langone Medical Center, Mt. Sinai Medical Center, Northwell Health System, among many others and including top notch outside New York providers.

World Trade Center Health Program Lawyers Hansen & Rosasco, LLP

Applying for the WTC Health Program

Before you can obtain coverage, the WTC Health Program must approve and certify your illness or cancer. Unlike many other 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund law firms, at Hansen & Rosasco we actually file your WTC Health Program application for you! We do the leg work to help get your cancer or other illness “certified.” Without “certification” of your cancer or other illness, you are not entitled to ANY money or payout from the 9/11 Fund. Therefore,it is best to speak to an experienced 9/11 attorney who understands this process. Your attorney can help you get your illness certified and also help you collect compensation from the Victim Compensation Fund if applicable. These two programs differ in what they cover and how they compensate victims of 9/11. That is why it is best to have an attorney on your side who understands these differences and can help you both with lifetime medical care and the maximum amount of compensation. (including unreimbursed medical expenses).

Help for Those in the Exposure Zone

When the World Trade Center towers fell, a dangerous mix of toxic chemicals and dust clouded the city. This dust cloud contained more than 2,500 cancer causing toxins and contaminants, including asbestos, benzene, fiberglass, ground glass, sheetrock and concrete. In addition, unprecedented levels of chemicals and toxins polluted the air from the fires that burned continuously for over three months.

“We will never know the composition of that cloud, because the wind carried it away, but people were breathing and eating it…What we do know is that it had all kinds of god-awful things in it. Burning jet fuel. Plastics, metal, fiberglass, asbestos. It was thick, terrible stuff. A witch’s brew.”
— World Trade Center Health Program’s Dr. Michael Crane, Newsweek Interview

Residents, employees, first responders, and volunteers near Ground Zero breathed in these dangerous chemicals and toxins in the months following the attacks. As a result, many people died or since received deadly cancer diagnoses. Many more suffer chronic and disabling illnesses that impact their everyday life.

Unfortunately, many affected people do not realize that they can qualify and apply for healthcare and treatment through the World Trade Center Health Program. Even more people believe that the program is just for first responders. Yet, Congress created this program to assist everyone living, working, or going to school near Ground Zero who became exposed to the toxic stew created by the terrorist attacks and harmed. Congress even fully funded the program, so you can gain assistance and funds without taking valuable resources away from first responders. After all, it is your program too, and we are all in this together.

What Is the 9/11 World Trade Center Health Program?

To help victims of 9/11 get their lives back together and pay for medical expenses and suffering, the Zadroga Act created the World Trade Center Health Program.

This program is open to anyone “present” in Manhattan south of Houston Street or any block in Brooklyn that is within 1.5 miles of the Ground Zero between 9/11/01 and 7/31/02, including:

  • First responders
  • Survivors
  • Residents
  • Students
  • Volunteers
  • Construction workers
  • Employees

All of these people have one thing in common: they were present in the days and months following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Each one of these individuals contributed to the rebuilding efforts in New York City in different ways. While some rescued injured victims and put out fires, others returned to work in the area and helped keep our economy afloat. They reopened businesses despite the destruction and fear, and they helped neighbors through their grief. All the while, they breathed in toxic dust and chemicals that would eventually cause a chronic or fatal disease or illness.

The WTC Health Program is dedicated to helping those people with their healthcare needs. The program provides a lifetime of medical monitoring and treatment services through one of the Clinical Centers of Excellence. Members in this program live in every state in the U.S. and can find healthcare close to their homes.

The program provides no-cost medical and mental health services for a variety of 9/11 health care conditions and cancers. To access this care, you must:

  • Seek the certification of your 9/11 illness
  • Get treatment approved by the WTC Health Program before administration
  • Use healthcare providers and pharmacies affiliated with the program

The WTC Health Program is not a financial compensation program. This program provides medical monitoring and treatment to members. While many September 11 survivors qualify for this program, it is not always easy, so get an experienced 9/11 attorney like Hansen & Rosasco on your side from the beginning.

History of the World Trade Center Health Program

The World Trade Center Health Program officially launched in 2011 when President Obama signed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 (Zadroga Act). This program replaced two previously existing programs – the Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program and the WTC Environmental Health Center Community Program.

In 2015, the President reauthorized the WTC Health Program until 2090, giving victims and survivors a lifetime to apply for care.

To date, more than 78,000 responders and 25,000 survivors enrolled in the WTC Health Program. The majority of members are general responders and survivors between the ages of 45 and 74. While many members still live in the New York City Metropolitan Area, over 20,000 now live in various parts of the United States.

To gain eligibility, you must belong to one of four groups:

  • FDNY responders. To qualify, FDNY responders needed to spend a minimum of four hours between September 11, 2001, and July 31, 2002, at one of these locations:
    • Ground Zero
    • Staten Island Landfill
    • NYC Chief Medical Examiner’s Office
  • WTC general responders. To qualify, WTC general responders who worked or volunteers in rescue, recovery or cleanup needed to spend a minimum of four hours between September 11, 2001, and September 14, 2001, a minimum of 24 hours between September 11, 2001, and September 30, 2001, or a minimum of 80 hours between September 11, 2001, and July 31, 2002, at any of these locations:
    • Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street
    • Staten Island Landfill
    • Specific Barge Loading Piers
  • WTC survivors. To qualify, residents, students, and workers needed to spend a minimum amount of time in the NYC disaster area. Depending on where you lived and worked, that amount of time varies from no time to 30 days.
  • Pentagon/Shanksville responders. To qualify, responders who performed rescue, recovery, or debris cleanup needed to spend four hours at either site. The time period varies between the two sites.
    • Pentagon site. Responders there between September 11, 2001, and November 19, 2001, may qualify.
    • Shanksville PA. Responders there between September 11, 2001, and October 3, 2001, may qualify.

If you are unsure if you qualify, it is important to to call an experienced 9/11 attorney today. These dates and minimum times may vary depending on the type of job you performed and where you performed this job after 9/11.

Gather Supporting Documentation

The eligibility requirements for each group varies. As such, your supporting documentation must reflect which group you belong to and why. Your application and documentation should include the activities you performed during 9/11, the location, and the time period you performed those activities. It also must include the hours you worked and/or spent in those areas.

Some of the documentation you may need to provide includes:

  • Witness affidavit letter supporting your claim
  • Letter from employer or union
  • Police memo book
  • Timesheet or overtime report
  • Awards or letters
  • Letter from the Workers’ Compensation Board for 9/11 related work
  • Personal letter supporting your claim
  • Proof of address of home, workplace, or school
    • Lease or utility bill
    • Paystub
    • Letter from an organization, landlord, or residential manager
    • Student ID card
    • School transcripts
  • Proof of presence in the dust cloud on 9/11 or months thereafter

9/11-related Illnesses and Cancers

The WTC Health Program lists over 70 cancers, as well as various illnesses and chronic conditions. The program will gather your medical records (including pathology reports for cancers) and conduct a physical exam by their doctors (or a telehealth appointment during Covid-19). After reviewing this data, the WTC Health Program certifies the illness or condition as a 9/11-related condition. Once an individual receives this certification, they become eligible for a lifetime of health coverage for that condition. This is a huge benefit. They also become eligible for a lifetime of medical monitoring.

You must have a certified WTC Health Program condition before applying for compensation from the Victim Compensation Fund.

Some of the illnesses and conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic laryngitis or rhinosinusitis
  • GERD
  • Sleep apnea
  • Cancers
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Acute traumatic injuries
  • Mental health conditions
    • Anxiety disorder
    • Depression
    • Panic disorder
    • PTSD
    • Substance abuse

These are just a few of the illnesses, cancers, and disorders that qualify for WTC Health Program certification. Your 9/11 attorney can review your medical records and listen to your story to help you determine if your illness qualifies.

There are many different illnesses and conditions. In fact, According to the CDC, the top 10 certified WTC Health Program conditions are:

  1. Chronic rhinosinusitis – over 30,000 members
  2. Gastroesophageal reflux disease – over 27,000 members
  3. Asthma – over 16,000 members
  4. Cancers – over 16,000 members
  5. Sleep apnea – over 14,000 members
  6. PTSD – over 11,000 members
  7. Chronic respiratory disorders – over 8,000 members
  8. COPD – over 3,500 members
  9. Anxiety disorder – over 3,000 members
  10. Major depressive disorder – over 3,000 members

The top 15 certified cancers include:

  1. Non-melanoma skin cancer
  2. Prostate cancer
  3. Breast cancer
  4. Melanoma
  5. Lymphoma
  6. Thyroid
  7. Lung
  8. Kidney
  9. Leukemia
  10. Colon
  11. Bladder
  12. Myeloma
  13. Oropharynx
  14. Rectum
  15. Lip

How a 9/11 Attorney Can Help

Getting your 9/11-related illness or medical condition certified by the WTC Health Program can open the doors to collecting compensation from the Victim Compensation Fund. Yet, applying for governmental programs and certifications takes time, patience, and extensive knowledge of the legal system, as well as the requirements of each program.

Let’s face it. Your time is better spent on your health and on seeking treatment for your illness. It is better spent with your friends and family and enjoying your life. That is why so many 9/11 first responders, families, and survivors turn to 9/11 lawyers to help them during this time. An experienced 9/11 attorney can handle the application, appeals, and amendment process and get you the benefits you deserve. This takes the burden and weight off of you and allows you to focus on what really matters—your life and your health.

What Is Your September 11th Story?

Everyone’s story is different and many people suffered after 9/11 in different ways. No matter how you suffer, you deserve help. That horrific day led to thousands of deaths, injuries, and illnesses and the destruction continues. Fortunately, victims and survivors can collect health benefits and compensation for the harm and suffering they endured.

Hansen & Rosasco - 9/11 Cancer ClaimYour story matters and you deserve to have a legal team in your corner that wants to hear your story. You need someone who will listen and fight for you during this time. You need a 9/11 law firm that understands how the work you did after 9/11 contributed to your overall health and wellbeing. To learn more about the 9/11 World Trade Center Health Program and whether you qualify, contact an experienced and skilled 9/11 lawyer at Hansen & Rosasco today. Be well and be safe!

 

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