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Cleanup Workers

Two federal programs—the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)—provide medical care and financial assistance to the construction and cleanup workers who responded to the disaster. 

In the twenty plus years since 9/11, thousands of construction and cleanup workers, including many volunteers, any have now fallen ill with medical conditions linked to their prolonged exposure to dangerous toxins, many of them cancer-causing, that contaminated the dust, debris, and building materials that littered 9/11 cleanup sites

The days and months after the September 11, 2001 attacks were a time of true horror; a time when many worked or volunteered to aid in the Ground Zero cleanup and recovery of the Ground Zero “Crash Site Area” which encompassed the streets and hundreds of buildings throughout Lower Manhattan. These cleanup and recovery workers still suffer from having breathed the toxic fumes, a high volume of asbestos exposure, and other 9/11 dust that covered New York City buildings and streets. These workers and volunteers braved this dark cloud to help in any way they could – and at the sacrifice of their own health and safety.

Ground Zero cleanup and recovery workers are eligible for payouts from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). We continue to see a huge increase in 9/11 cancer cases and breathing/digestion problems in cleanup and recovery workers due to their direct asbestos exposure and inhalation and ingestion of other harmful toxins. There are financial awards available through the VCF as well as lifetime medical care through the WTC Health Program. The lawyers at Hansen & Rosasco, LLP are here to guide those suffering from a 9/11-related illness through every step of both of these complicated federal programs.

If you were a worker in the Ground Zero cleanup and recovery efforts – or have a family member who was – please contact our firm about filing a claim and getting your 9/11 cancer or related illness approved for free lifetime treatment covered by the WTC Health Program as well as compensation from the 9/11 Fund. You have given your time and were exposed to 9/11 dust and toxins. You now deserve the time and ability to care for yourself with the peace of mind knowing your claim is being handled.

We have represented and won claims for hundreds of individuals who served in the Ground Zero cleanup and recovery efforts. We have heard the terror in our clients’ voices – explaining the sights they witnessed in the days after the attacks. We know just how much your illnesses and your experiences have impacted your life – and we are here to care for you and get you compensation.

If you have any questions about your 9/11 cancer claim, and awards or medical care through the Zadroga Act’s VCF or WTC Health Program, please call our WTC lawyers today at 1-800-887–7299 or get a FREE claim review here.

Who were the 9/11 cleanup workers?

The days and months after the September 11, 2001 attacks were a time of true horror; a time when many worked or volunteered to aid in the Ground Zero cleanup and recovery of the Ground Zero “Crash Site Area” which encompassed the streets and hundreds of buildings throughout Lower Manhattan.

These cleanup and recovery workers still suffer from having breathed the toxic fumes, a high volume of asbestos exposure, and other 9/11 dust that covered New York City buildings and streets.

How Can 9/11 Cleanup Workers Can Get Benefits for Their Health Problems?

9/11 cleanup workers conducted rescue, recovery, demolition, and debris removal operations at Ground Zero, the Pentagon, and Shanksville.

In New York, they included:

  • On and off-duty first responders from the NYPD, FDNY, and other public agencies.
  • Members of numerous New York City labor union chapters who performed tasks as varied as debris removal, road clearing, and demolition of large structural elements of the collapsed towers.
  • Structural engineers who supported the building foundations of the collapsed towers to keep them from becoming flooded by the Hudson River.
  • Crews who built roads to make hauling the debris away from the site easier.
  • Volunteers from agencies and organizations from all over the United States.

At the Pentagon, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cleanup crews included first responders, federal employees, members of the Armed Forces, and contractors. Cleanup at Shanksville was more limited and consisted largely of first responders and volunteers.

The cleanup and recovery efforts at Ground Zero were the most extensive of the three, lasting nearly a year even with crews working round-the-clock. While many of the first responders and contractors were given limited personal protective equipment to use when around the toxic dust and debris, the grueling nature of the effort led to many taking this gear off. Volunteers who worked at the site were not even afforded PPE, and many protected their noses, throats, and lungs with only a bandana tied around their faces.

Almost immediately, chronic runny noses and coughing began to appear throughout the 9/11 community—particularly among those “working the pile” at Ground Zero. Within a matter of years, the “World Trade Center cough” that plagued many of these workers through the months of cleanup had given way to other medical issues, including the later appearance of cancers and conditions involving permanent damage to the lungs and digestive system.

Conditions Commonly Linked to 9/11 Cleanup Work

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cleanup workers have frequently contracted 9/11-related medical conditions like:

  • Chronic rhinosinusitis.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD).
  • Cancers.
  • Asthma.
  • Sleep apnea.

Cancers commonly linked to 9/11 cleanup work include:

  • Non-melanoma skin cancer.
  • Prostate cancer.
  • Breast cancer.
  • Melanoma skin cancer.
  • Lymphoma.

However, these are the only health problems or cancer types that have appeared in 9/11 cleanup workers. Researchers have linked exposure to 9/11 toxic dust and debris to various medical ailments, and cleanup workers likely face elevated risks of all of them. No matter what illness you suffer from, if you were exposed to toxic materials while working on 9/11 cleanup efforts, you may have the right to receive free lifetime medical care and a tax-free financial award from the federal government.

Federal Programs for 9/11 Cleanup Workers

By the tenth anniversary of 9/11, it had become clear that cleanup workers, first responders, and others had suffered toxic exposures at 9/11 sites that likely caused severe illness. The federal government recognized that it was responsible for assisting those individuals and the families of those who had died from 9/11-related ailments.

Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to address that need. The act created two landmark federal programs that today provide benefits to thousands of cleanup workers suffering from the devastating long-term effects of toxic exposure.

The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP)

To ensure that cleanup workers who suffered toxic exposures received adequate medical care, the Zadroga Act created the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP), which replaced two earlier programs that had offered medical assistance to a more limited group of 9/11 victims.

The WTCHP centralized the federal efforts to ensure that all individuals afflicted with 9/11-related health conditions would receive free medical monitoring and treatment for their ailments.

Today, the WTCHP offers monitoring and treatment to tens of thousands of individuals who suffer from 9/11-related illnesses, including former cleanup workers. Participants in the program, referred to as program members, receive services at medical facilities called Clinical Centers of Excellence throughout the New York City area and from WTCHP-affiliated providers nationwide.

When the WTCHP began operating in 2011, it immediately began providing services to 56,000 individuals who had already been participating in predecessor programs.

By June of 2017, nearly 80,000 individuals (including cleanup workers) had become program members, and today the tally has reached well over 100,000 participants. The steady growth in WTCHP members reflects both increased awareness in the 9/11 community about the services the Program provides and the steady rate of new diagnoses of 9/11-related health conditions in individuals who suffered toxic exposures, especially among 9/11 cleanup workers.

The WTCHP is overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and administered by the CDC and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). In addition to providing medical treatment and monitoring to Program members, it also maintains the official list of health conditions linked to 9/11 toxic exposures and provides certification of 9/11-related illnesses for the purpose of establishing its members’ eligibility for financial benefits through the VCF.

Eligibility for Cleanup Workers Seeking Medical Treatment and Monitoring Benefits

To obtain medical treatment and monitoring from the WTCHP, individuals must meet several eligibility criteria.

For example, cleanup workers applying for WTCHP benefits as general responders at Ground Zero must:

  • Have worked at least four hours in Lower Manhattan, at the Staten Island Landfill, or at certain barge loading piers used for transporting Ground Zero debris to a landfill, between September 11, 2001, and September 14, 2001; at least 24 hours between September 11, 2001, and September 30, 2001; or at least 80 hours between September 11, 2001, and July 31, 2002. (Similar hour and date requirements apply for cleanup workers at the Pentagon and Shanksville.)
  • Be diagnosed with a condition included on the CDC’s list of covered 9/11-related health conditions. These conditions have been linked to toxic exposure and include many respiratory and digestive disorders and dozens of types of cancer.
  • Agree to obtain their medical treatment, prescription medication, and monitoring services from a Clinical Center of Excellence in the New York area or from a provider affiliated with the WTCHP’s Nationwide Provider Network.

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)

Cleanup workers who suffer from 9/11-related medical conditions don’t just need medical services. They also deserve financial assistance to compensate them for the pain and suffering and financial losses such as lost wages they have endured because of their exposure to 9/11 toxins. That is where the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund comes in.

Congress originally created the VCF in 2001, within weeks of the attack, to provide financial compensation to families of deceased 9/11 victims and to individuals who had suffered acute trauma or illness during the attacks or initial cleanup efforts. But that initial version of the VCF only ran until 2004 and did not apply to individuals who would later suffer from 9/11-related health problems that only began to emerge later.

The Zadroga Act authorized the reopening of the VCF for five years, beginning in 2011, and expanded eligibility for financial benefits to include individuals who suffered from the growing number of 9/11-related health conditions. Congress reauthorized the VCF for another five years in 2015.

In 2019—a year before the Program was due to expire once again—a Special Master appointed by the Department of Justice warned that the VCF lacked sufficient funds to fully compensate all pending and projected claims. Within months, Congress approved, and the president signed into law the Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. This guaranteed adequate funding for the VCF for all claims filed through October 1, 2090.

Today, anyone with a valid VCF compensation claim, including any cleanup worker suffering from a recognized 9/11-related health condition, can rest assured that the VCF has enough money to pay them full benefits.

The VCF pays compensation for both wage losses and other monetary expenses associated with 9/11-related illnesses, as well as for pain and suffering endured by cleanup workers and others afflicted with those diseases. The VCF pays up to $250,000 in pain and suffering damages to individuals who suffer from cancer and up to $90,000 to individuals afflicted with non-cancer conditions.

Registration Required

In order to file a VCF claim, claimants must first register with the Program.

Registration must take place within two years of:

  • The claimant receiving a certification or diagnosis of a 9/11-related illness.
  • The date of death in a wrongful death claim or the date on which a doctor determined that the death was the result of a 9/11-related illness.

This registration deadline is extremely important as it reserves the claimant’s right to file a claim at any point before October 2090. It should be noted that individuals do not have to be ill with a 9/11-related illness to register with the Program. Cleanup workers who spent time in the New York City exposure zone in the months that followed the terror attack can register in order to protect their right to file a claim in the future if a 9/11-related illness does appear

These workers and volunteers braved this dark cloud to help in any way they could – and at the sacrifice of their own health and safety.

WTC Dust and Asbestos Exposure

Cleanup Workers are Eligible for Compensation

Ground Zero cleanup and recovery workers are eligible for payouts from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). We continue to see a huge increase in 9/11 cancer cases and breathing/digestion problems in cleanup and recovery workers due to their direct asbestos exposure and inhalation and ingestion of other harmful toxins. 

There are financial awards available through the VCF as well as lifetime medical care through the WTC Health Program.

The lawyers at Hansen & Rosasco, LLP are here to guide those suffering from a 9/11-related illness through every step of both of these complicated federal programs.

How an Attorney Can Help Cleanup Workers

Because the application and claims processes for these programs often overwhelm those needing assistance, an experienced 9/11 benefits attorney and their legal team ensures that:

  • The claim or application is filed properly and is supported by the evidence needed to prove presence at a 9/11 site as well as the development of an illness that has been linked to 9/11 toxic exposure.
  • All requests for additional information are responded to properly to keep the review process moving forward.
  • The applicant or claimant understands the requirements for participation in the federal 9/11 programs and has access to new information that can impact their claim or the services they receive.
  • The claimant can file an amendment to add new conditions, change the information they’ve provided to the VCF, or even obtain additional compensation for a newly-diagnosed covered condition.

If you’re a cleanup worker and would like more information about the WTCHP or VCF, contact us for a free case evaluation.

Were You There?

If you were a worker in the Ground Zero cleanup and recovery efforts – or have a family member who was – please contact our firm about filing a claim and getting your 9/11 cancer or related illness approved for free lifetime treatment covered by the WTC Health Program as well as compensation from the 9/11 Fund.

You have given your time and were exposed to 9/11 dust and toxins. You now deserve the time and ability to care for yourself with the peace of mind knowing your claim is being handled.

We have represented and won claims for hundreds of individuals who served in the Ground Zero cleanup and recovery efforts.

Case Results

We Have Heard Your Frustrations

We have heard the terror in our clients’ voices – explaining the sights they witnessed in the days after the attacks. We know just how much your illnesses and your experiences have impacted your life – and we are here to care for you and get you compensation.

Get started today by calling us at 800-887-7299 or fill out a contact form here

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I would like to say thank you for the superior customer service that I received from the minute I sat down for my consultation regarding my 911 Victim Compensation Fund case I initially met with the Mr. Hansen who is awesome. I was also lucky to met Mr. Rosasco. They treated me like family and placed me in the good hands of Ms. Sidrah Syed,Esq. Ms. Syed is extremely dedicated , knowledgeable and kept me updated through each step of the process. I am extremely please on how my case handled and very lucky to have her working on my behalf. God Bless you and your law firm for all that you have done for 911 Survivors.” -Jeff F.

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