What are the WTC Health Program Eligibility Requirements? In the twenty years since the terror attacks of 9/11, life has gone on in many ways. However, for those who were injured by the terror attacks in New York City, at the Pentagon, and the crash site in Shanksville, PA, or exposed to toxins at the site, life has featured hospitals, doctors, and—in many cases—an untimely death from 9/11-related conditions.
In 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. This act created two programs to benefit first responders, general responders, and survivors suffering from 9/11 exposure-related illnesses. One of those programs was the WTC Health Program, which provides free health care and monitoring.
If you meet the eligibility guidelines listed below and want health care and monitoring through the WTC Health Program, the experienced legal team from Hansen & Rosasco can build your application and provide information on other federal programs, such as the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
What Is the WTC Health Program?
More than 500,000 people were probably exposed to toxic dust from the 9/11 terror attacks, and each of these people is at risk of a 9/11-related medical condition.
When Congress created it in 2011, the WTC Health Program replaced two other programs intended to serve those suffering from 9/11-related health conditions, including the Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program and the WTC Environmental Health Center Community Program.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) administer the WTC Health Program. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services houses the program.
The benefits that eligible members receive include:
- WTC Health Program-networked physicians and pharmacies provide all medically necessary treatment for certified 9/11-related conditions, including prescription medication.
- Regular screenings to monitor the health of individuals who applied and were accepted into the program to ensure early treatment of new 9/11-related conditions.
- The certification of 9/11-related conditions is an eligibility requirement for obtaining compensation through the VCF, and the administrators of each program work together to provide participants access to the 9/11 benefits.
Are You Eligible to Participate in the WTC Health Program?
To obtain the medical treatment and monitoring benefits provided through the WTC Health Program, individuals must apply to the program. Their application is the first step in an initial review to ensure that the applicant has included every necessary document. Four groups of individuals can be eligible to participate in the program, with the criteria for eligibility being slightly different for each group.
#1. FDNY Responders
One eligible group includes active and retired members of the New York City Fire Department who spent at least four hours working on the rescue, recovery, and cleanup efforts at Ground Zero, the Staten Island Landfill, or the New York City Medical Examiner’s office from September 11, 2001, to July 31, 2002.
Additionally, the surviving family members of FDNY responders who died at Ground Zero on 9/11 can seek mental health treatment through the program, provided they received treatment for a 9/11-related mental health condition on or before September 1, 2008.
#2. WTC General Responders
General responders at the World Trade Center terror site, including members of the New York City Police Department and others who worked or volunteered at the site doing rescue, recovery, clean up, or related support services can seek benefits from the WTC Health Program if they worked in Lower Manhattan (south of Canal Street), at the Staten Island Landfill, or certain barge loading piers.
The exposure time required for eligibility at Ground Zero or any of the other locations was four hours between September 11, 2001, and September 14, 2001, 24 hours between September 11, 2001, and September 30, 2001, or 80 hours between September 11, 2001, and July 31, 2002.
Active or retired law enforcement responders participating in the rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations in any of these locations for the prescribed amount of time can also seek benefits through the WTC General Responders group criteria, as can employees of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation tunnel workers, and vehicle maintenance workers.
#3. WTC Survivors
WTC survivors include those who lived, worked, or attended school or daycare in Lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001, or in the ten months afterwards.
The requirements for this group include:
- Those who were present in the dust cloud when the towers collapsed.
- Those who spent at least four hours on four separate days in the New York City disaster area between September 11, 2001, and January 10, 2002, or at least 30 four-hour days between September 11, 2001, and July 31, 2002.
- Those who worked in the area or performed maintenance services and suffered intense exposure to the WTC dust but do not meet the general responder criteria. These individuals must have worked at least four hours in the disaster area from September 11, 2001, to January 10, 2002.
- Those deemed eligible to receive a grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation Residential Grant Program, who had a lease for a residence or bought a residence in the New York City disaster area, and who lived in that residence from September 11, 2001, to July 31, 2002.
- Workers whose place of employment was in the New York City disaster area and was deemed eligible to receive a grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation WTC Small Firms Attraction and Retention Act program or other government incentive programs designed to revitalize the Lower Manhattan economy after the terrorist attacks. Workers must have worked in the area from September 11, 2001, to July 31, 2002.
#4. Pentagon/Shanksville Responders
Active or retired police or fire department personnel in Alexandria, VA, qualify if they worked on rescue, recovery, demolition, debris cleanup, and associated duties at the Pentagon for at least four hours between September 11, 2001, and November 19, 2001.
Active or retired emergency personnel responding to the crash site in Shanksville, PA, can also seek WTC Health Program benefits if they performed rescue, recovery, demolition, debris clean up and related services for at least four hours between September 11, 2001, and October 3, 2001.
Other Application Requirements
You must prove that you lived or worked in one of the specified times and places, to obtain WTC Health Program benefits. Your documentation needs vary somewhat depending on the group you are part of.
Here are some highlights of the documentation requirements:
- Responders must show proof of the work they did at Ground Zero or one of the other impacted sites, including the type of work you performed, the physical location where you worked, when you worked at each location, and how many hours per day you worked at each location. Acceptable documents to prove this information include employer records, a police memo book, a timesheet or overtime report, awards you received for your 9/11-related activities, or letters from the Workers’ Compensation Board. If you can’t provide any of the above-listed documentation, a third party can attest to your activities or write a first-party attestation including details as to the effort you made to procure documentation and the reason that documentation is unavailable.
- WTC survivors must provide documentation that includes the physical address of the Lower Manhattan place where they lived, worked, attended school or daycare, proof of presence in the dust cloud, or eligibility to receive a grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation Residential Grant Program.
Eligible for the WTC Health Program? Not Sure? A 9/11 Attorney Can Help You Apply
Currently, over 70 types of cancers and numerous other health conditions are associated with exposure to the toxic dust plume in the New York City disaster area. Doctors have just now started to diagnose many of these illnesses. Many other conditions have not developed in first responders or survivors yet.
Even if you are not yet ill with a 9/11-related condition, if you were exposed to the toxins, it is strongly encouraged that you begin seeking the benefits you are entitled to receive now so that they are in place if the time comes when you need them.
If you meet the presence and time eligibility requirements to apply for the WTC Health Program, let an experienced 9/11 focused legal team help you gather the documentation you need for your application.
Contact us today!