NY Governor Signs the 9/11 Notice Act: Educating Civilian Victims Eligible For Lifetime 9/11 Healthcare and Compensation
On September 11th, 2023, the New York State Governor signed legislation (S. 2946-B/A. 75-B), the “9/11 Notice Act.” This new law requires employers to inform employees of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and the World Trade Center Health Program. This new legislation will help alert over 360,000 civilian survivors of 9/11 of their eligibility to file for free lifetime medical care and substantial compensation for illnesses such as 69 types of cancer.
What Does the 9/11 Notice Act Require?
The new law requires New York State to: “develop rules and regulations necessary to promote awareness and notification to any past or present businesses and their employees which operated in the New York disaster area during the eligible time period of their potential eligibility under the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and the World Trade Center Health Program. This subdivision shall apply to both current and former employees.”
“The [NYS] Department of Economic Development shall determine the most appropriate message and format that the state agencies may use to assist potentially eligible employers and employees with such awareness or notification. The Department of Economic Development shall be authorized to consult with the special master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and the program administrator of the World Trade Center Health Program relating to matters including, but not limited to, messaging and format to be used in the promotion of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and the World Trade Center Health Program and if the messages should be tailored for the specific geographic areas covered by the World Trade Center Health Program in a different manner than those covered by both the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.”
When Will the 9/11 Notice Act Take Effect?
The 9/11 Notice Act will take effect 277 days (June 14, 2024), after becoming law on September 11, 2023. This will allow the New York administrative agencies the time to work with the VCF Special Master and the WTC Health Program on appropriate messaging on eligibility to both past and current employees.
A large majority of eligible individuals, particularly office workers, retail workers, residents, and students remain unaware of their rights and the substantial benefits available to them. The 9/11 Notice Act aims to bring awareness to these programs, lifetime healthcare from the WTC Health Program plus substantial compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.
Who Qualifies For the WTC Health Program and VCF Benefits?
While over 80% of first responders have enrolled in the 9/11 victim benefit programs, less than 8% of the office workers and retail workers have taken advantage of their rights. The fact is that all too many of them still don’t realize that they are entitled to the benefits provided by Congress when it created and fully funded the WTC Health Program and the Victim Compensation Fund.
On 9/11 and the months that followed, New Yorkers in lower Manhattan were promised by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the air was safe to breathe, and it was safe to return to lower Manhattan to their homes, schools, and workplaces. There were 360,000 downtown office and other workers who went back to their regular jobs in lower Manhattan, while the fires continued to burn, and the dust permeated the inside of the buildings and their workspaces. The civilian office and other workers breathed the same air as the first responders and, over the past 20+ years, have been getting sick with the same cancers and other illnesses.
One of the primary reasons for the disconnect between eligible individuals and the benefits of the WTC Health Program and the VCF is a common misconception; that these benefits are exclusively for first responders. These benefits are available to most downtown Manhattan workers, residents, students, and responders who were present in lower Manhattan between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002. It is crucial to dispel this misunderstanding and ensure that the downtown civilian workers are aware of the healthcare and compensation they are entitled to receive.
The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund alone sets aside over $10 billion for 9/11 victims, while the WTC Health Program allows those with cancer, respiratory, and/or digestive issues to receive free medical monitoring, prescriptions, and treatment, for life, for their WTC-certified condition(s). Enrollees in the WTC Health Program can obtain medical care at some of the best medical institutions in the world, such as Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, NYU Langone Medical Center, Mt. Sinai Medical Center, Northwell Health, and many more.
There is also a lack of awareness among downtown residents, workers, and students that the 9/11 dust and fumes are a known and proven cause of 70+ types of cancers. The most common of these 9/11-caused cancers is skin cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, lymphoma, thyroid cancer, lung cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia, colorectal cancer, and many others. Lifetime 9/11 cancer care from the WTC Health Program coverage is available as well as cancer compensation ranging from $90,000 to $340,000, plus any lost earnings.
It is essential to spread the word to the entire 9/11 community and ensure that those affected are informed of their rights and the assistance available to them.
How Long Do You Have to File a Claim?
Importantly, it is not too late to file a claim, even if you got sick many years ago or have recovered. In addition, families who had a loved one who worked or lived in lower Manhattan from 9/11 to mid-2002 and since died from any cancer, are often eligible for wrongful death compensation of at least $250,000. In most cases with downtown workers, it is not too late to file a claim.
This is a disheartening issue, as even 22 years later, thousands of New Yorkers and former New Yorkers are ill with over 68 types of cancer, and unable to afford the incredibly expensive treatment for their serious illness. The 9/11 Notice Act would require certain businesses to notify past and present employees of the eligibility requirements for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. More specifically, any business with fifty or more employees which operated within the exposure zone during the eligible time period will have to notify each person employed within the exposure zone during said time period about their eligibility for the VCF. This is an incredible step in the right direction. As Eckhart Tolle once said, “Awareness is the greatest agent for change.”
Don’t Know Where to Start? Our 9/11 Attorneys Can Help!
The knowledgeable and compassionate staff at Hansen & Rosasco, LLP have been filing 9/11 victim claims since October 2001, just after the horrible human impacts of the attacks. We have been there since the beginning. We take great pride in providing unparalleled experienced legal services and are always available to answer your questions regarding the benefits available to 9/11 victims and their families. Call us today at 215-697-3701 to learn more about your potential eligibility. The call will last only a few minutes, but the benefits could last a lifetime.