James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act
On January 2, 2011, President Obama signed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The Zadroga Act provides continued funding for health care programs treating those affected by the 9/11 events. It also reopens the Victims Compensation Fund for those who suffered physical injuries or death as a result of the events of 9/11 and its aftermath.
The Zadroga Act establishes the WTC Health Program, which funds networks of specialized medical programs. These programs are designed to monitor and treat those with 9/11 related conditions. The four programs are:
- For Responders: The World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program, http://www.cdc.gov/wtc/clinics.html#resp
- For Survivors: NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation WTC Environmental Health Center, http://www.cdc.gov/wtc/clinics.html#surv
- For NYFD Personnel: The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Responder Health Program, http://www.nyc.gov/html/fdny/insider/bhs/wtcmm/index.shtml
- The National Program: The WTC Health Program has a nationwide network of clinics with providers across the country for responders and survivors who live outside the New York City metropolitan area. For information about the nationwide provider network call 1-888-982-4748.
These programs provide free medical services by health care professionals who specialize in 9/11-related conditions. These professionals are very familiar with the administrative processes relating to workers' compensation and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. More information about the WTC Health Program is available on the WTC Centers for Excellence website, or by contacting the WTC Health Program at 1-888-WTC-HP4U (1-888-982-4748), or at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: World Trade Center Health Effects.
Volunteers, and other WTC-related claimants, are strongly encouraged to apply for benefits under the WTC Health Program. Unless Congress authorizes a new appropriation, the WTC Volunteer Fund will likely be exhausted over the next five years. Volunteers who apply for the WTC Health Program will benefit from secure funding for their health care needs, while helping preserve and extend the life of the limited Volunteer Fund for indemnity benefits not covered by the WTC Health Program.
9/11 Victim Compensation Fund
The Zadroga Act also reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 (VCF) to new applications. The Zadroga Act expands eligibility allowing more people, who suffered physical harm or death as a result of the events of 9/11 or its aftermath, to collect compensation from the VCF. The Act provides that those who collect from the VCF must waive their right to pursue litigation to recover damages for the same physical injuries or conditions. Recipients are not barred from receiving workers' compensation benefits.
Information regarding eligibility requirements and the process for filing a claim with the reopened VCF is available on the VCF website, or by calling the VCF help line at 1-855-885-1555 (or 1-855-885-1558 for the hearing impaired). The deadline to register, for those individuals who knew (or reasonably should have known) that they had a WTC-related physical injury or condition, is October 3, 2013. Individuals who learned of their WTC-related physical injury or condition after October 3, 2011 must register within 2 years of the date they learned or reasonably should have known this information for the first time. As long as one registers within the relevant two-year window, one can submit the eligibility form online at any point during the VCF's existence (i.e., through October 3, 2016).
The New York City Bar Justice Center and certain law schools in the New York metropolitan area are offering free legal clinics for individuals who need assistance in filing a VCF claim. Those attending will be able to meet with an attorney who will provide information on the eligibility process and will assist in filling out the eligibility form. To register or request more information on available clinics, please call the VCF Helpline at 1-855-885-1555.