Cancer can strike anyone at any time. But for survivors, first responders, and recovery workers who were present at the World Trade Center and in Lower Manhattan on and in the days after the September 11th attacks, cancer is an even greater risk. The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) has identified over 68 kinds of cancers related to the toxic dust that arose from the rubble after the Towers collapsed. A full list of cancers covered by the WTCHP and included on the List of WTC-Related Health Conditions can be found here.
Thousands of individuals are suffering from 9/11-related cancers, and hundreds have died as a result of the cancer they developed after being exposed to toxic dust. For these individuals and their families, the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) provides valuable support and compensation, and the WTCHP provides no-cost health monitoring and treatment for covered cancers.
But to obtain 9/11 cancer compensation you must submit a claim before the strict two-year deadline established by the Fund. Many cancer patients or those who have lost a loved one who have yet to file a claim mistakenly believe that they are not eligible for compensation or treatment because more than two years have passed since they were diagnosed with cancer.
The reality is that it does not matter when you were diagnosed with cancer in terms of eligibility for VCF compensation. What matters is when that cancer was determined to be related to 9/11.
The two-year filing period for cancer compensation claims starts running on the “Registration Start Date,” which is the date on which a claimant knew or reasonably should have known:
- That they suffered a physical harm because of the 9/11 attacks, or debris removal in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, and
- That they were eligible to file a claim with the VCF.
When determining the date on which you “knew or should have known” that you were eligible to file a claim with the VCF, the VCF will use the date on which a federal, state, or local government entity determined that your cancer was 9/11-related. This means the date that either:
- The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) “certified” a cancer or other condition, or
- The date that a state workers’ compensation board or a government employer (such as the FDNY, NYPD, or NYCERS) found a condition as 9/11-related for purposes of awarding a disability pension.
For claimants who are being treated through the WTC Health Program, the Registration Start Date is based on the earlier of the following two dates:
- The date of the letter from the WTCHP indicating that the individual’s 9/11- related cancer has been certified for treatment (the “WTC Health Program Certification Letter”), or
- The date on which another government entity determined that the cancer was 9/11-related.
For individuals not being treated through the WTC Health Program, the Registration Start Date is the earlier of:
- The date on which a government entity determined that the cancer was 9/11-related, or
- The date on which the individual’s cancer is verified through the VCF’s Private Physician process.
For deceased claimants, a properly appointed Personal Representative may continue a 9/11 cancer compensation claim already timely filed, or may register and file a new claim seeking compensation for losses suffered prior to the victim’s death if done within two years of the victim’s Registration Start Date. A Personal Representative may also file a claim seeking compensation for losses suffered as a result of the death of the victim within two years of the date of the victim’s death if the death was as a result of a 9/11-related covered cancer.
You can see a complete chart of all VCF claim filing deadlines on page 8 of the VCF’s Policies and Procedures.
If you have questions or concerns regarding 9/11 cancer compensation claims or VCF registration and claim filing deadlines, please call Turley Hansen & Partners, LLP at 1-855-WTC-INFO (982-4636) or fill out our contact form to schedule a free claim review today.