The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) was established under James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. It provides free health care and medical monitoring for first responders, area workers, residents and survivors who were exposed to the toxic air and debris during 9/11 and the aftermath. Whether or not you have become ill from this exposure you should still seek medical monitoring and/or treatment from this program. Not only is the care free, it can also be a benefit should you plan to file a 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund claim.
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) holds the WTCHP in high regard and values the opinion of the WTCHP doctors because they specialize in 9/11 related illnesses. The WTCHP doctors understand every facet of how exposure from the 9/11 toxic air and debris has affected the health of many under their care and how it may impact an individual’s health in the future. The World Trade Center Health Program has recorded and analyzed data from each case. This well documented information gives the doctors the insight and knowledge to help them determine if your illness is likely due to the exposure from the toxic air that resulted from the 9/11 airplane attacks.
If you have been diagnosed with a 9/11 related illness through a private doctor it is recommended to also be monitored by the World Trade Center Health Program regularly. You can still see your private doctor even if you are attending the World Trade Center Health Program. When the VCF reviews your claim, they will want to confirm that your illness has been certified as 9/11 related. The certification process is done through the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). By attending the World Trade Center Health Program, they can help you with this process. They know the proper protocol and paperwork that needs to be submitted to NIOSH in order to request this certification on your behalf.
If you choose not to attend the WTCHP, then it will be necessary that your private physician fill out a “physician form.” The VCF requires this form to give your private physician’s opinion to NIOSH on whether your illness was a direct result of your exposure to 9/11 toxins. Once NIOSH receives this information from your private doctor, they will review it and make a decision on certification of your illnesses.
Although you may be getting great care from your private physician, your doctor may not necessarily specialize in 9/11 related illnesses. The physician form process may put a temporary delay on the processing of your claim.
Here are 3 simple tips on getting you started with the World Trade Center Health Program:
1. Apply to the World Trade Center Health Program. You have the option to apply online or by mail. If you live outside of theNew York area, you can still get care. Call the Nationwide Provider Network at 1-888-982-4748.
2. Once you have been accepted into the WTCHP and you are getting regular treatment and monitoring, ask your case manager to have your illnesses certified by NIOSH.
3. Do not stop care! Continue care regularly as recommended by the WTCHP. Continue to be treated and monitored even AFTER you have submitted your VCF claim. Should the VCF ask for additional medical information, you want to to show that you are still treating with doctors specializing in 9/11 related illnesses.
If you need more information about registering or filing a claim with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund under the Zadroga Act, feel free to call, click the chat button or request to be contacted at the top of this page.
Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley, Hansen & Partners contributed to the writing of this post.