Ask 911 Health Watch & Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
We know that 9/11 responders and survivors have a lot of questions about the programs and resources available to them, that is one of the reasons we created 9/11 Health Watch. Whether it about the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, it’s reauthorization or the programs it authorized and funded, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) and the World Trade Center Health Program, we are here to help get you get answers.
Click on the headers to see a list of frequently asked questions for each topic. If your question has not been asked or if you did not find the answer you were looking for, ask your own question with the form below. We hope to continue expanding on these FAQs as more common questions come in.
Q and A about the Legislation
Q: What happened in the 2015 “Reauthorization” How does it affect me?
Under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, when Congress created the World Trade Center Health Program and reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund it was only for five years for both programs with limited funding. Both the Health program and the VCF were scheduled to shut down in 2016, leaving injured and ill 9/11 responders without health care for their injuries and the scheduled closure of the VCF in 2016 would have meant that those that developed a 9/11 covered condition in the future after the program closed, such as cancer. would have NO chance of compensation for their injury.
Now because of the efforts of thousands of 9/11 responders and survivors from across the country and lobbied and pushed Congress for the extension of the James Zadroga 9/11 Heath and Compensation Act, the reauthorization was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. Under the legislation, the Health program will remain open till 2090 with adequate funding to continue providing health care and medical monitoring for 9/11 injuries. Also, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund will remain open for another five years till 2020 and should now have sufficient funds to fully compensate pending claims and any new claims made over the next five years.
Q and A about the September 11th, Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)
Q: I have been told that the VCF will not have enough money to cover all the claims that have been filed.
When Congress passed the original James Zadroga Act in 2010, it did not provide sufficient funding for the VCF to fully pay all the claims that eventually were filed. Thousands of injured and ill 9/11 responders, survivors and their families were faced with the potential of receiving perhaps as little as 35% of their compensation determinations seriously threatening their economic wellbeing. But with the passage of the reauthorization in 2015 and the additional funding of 4.6 billion dollars to the VCF provided by Congress the VCF should have sufficient funds to fully pay all of its compensation determinations for those cases that are pending and for new claims that will be filed over the next five years until the programs authorization expires in 2020.
Q: What are “Group A” and “Group B”?
When Congress reauthorized the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for another 5 years and provided an additional 4.6 billion dollars to fully pay all pending claims they made some changes to the program. The law placed all of the claims that had already received a determination from the Fund on their compensation on the day the President signed the reauthorization into law, which was over 9,100 claims, into “Group A”. These claims would be fully paid under the original statute. The law put priority that these claims should receive their full payment first.
All claims that had not received a determination yet by the day the President signed the reauthorization into law are in “Group B”.
The VCF has finished paying all “Group A” claims and has started to process pending claims in “Group B”. Unlike previously, under the new law, when a determination is made by the VCF the injured and ill 9/11 responder will receive the full payment there will not be any partial 10% payments.
Here is an explanation of the new law and how it impacts the VCF from the VCF website.
Q: If I am participating in the Health Program and am getting treatment for my injuries at Stony Brook, do I still need to register with the Victim Compensation Fund?
Yes, if you want to be compensated for an economic loss from your 9/11 injuries you still need to register and file a claim with the VCF and follow its procedures and meet its deadlines for registering. Participating in any of the World Trade Center Health Programs does not fulfill the requirement to file a claim with the VCF if you want to make a claim for economic loss due to your 9/11 injury.
Q: I remember filing something with the Workers Compensation Board a few years ago, to allow me to file for Workers Compensation if I get sick from 9/11 at a later date, do I still need to file with the VCF?
Yes, even if you filed with the NYS Workers Compensation Board the paperwork to allow you to bring a Worker Compensation Claim later you would still need to register with the VCF, if you have a 9/11 injury, that gave you an economic loss and you want to be compensated for it.
Having filed with the Workers Compensation Board does not mean you have registered for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), You MUST still meet the registration deadline requirements for the VCF if you want to be considered for compensation by the fund.
Q: What is the Deadline for filing with the VCF (the September 11th, Victim Compensation Fund)?
The deadlines are complicated; you should look at the VCF website and download their Claims Deadline Guide here.
One important point, even if you are enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program, receiving medical monitoring and or treatment for your 9/11 injury, you will still NEED TO REGISTER WITH THE VCF.
Even if you filed with the N.Y.S Worker’s Compensation Board or your Pension Board, you will still NEED TO REGISTER WITH THE VCF.
Q: I have a cancer that I believe is a result of my exposure to toxins at Ground Zero, I did not register with the VCF have I missed my chance to be compensated?
It depends, Here is the current list of covered cancers. Here is a document from the Victim Compensation Fund that explains the deadlines to register.
Look it over and if you have any questions call the VCF at 1-855-885-1555 and or consult with an attorney familiar with the VCF process.
Q: Do I need an attorney to participate in the VCF?
No, you are not required to have an attorney. You are free to consult with attorneys and to have one represent you if you want. You should make your own decision as to whether you wish to engage an attorney.
Q: I understand that I do not need a lawyer but I would like to have one represent me, how to find a lawyer for this?
If you are a member of a Union you might consult with your Union and ask them if they have an attorney who they can recommend or give you advice.
Q: I am confused by the different programs and deadlines; I filed a form with the NYS Workers Compensation Board and I am in the WTC Health registry, does that mean I have met the VCF deadline requirement?
NO. The simple answer is there is ONLY one way to file a claim with the VCF, and that is filing it with the VCF. You can file online at http://www.vcf.gov/register.html .
Q: Can you explain the different Programs? What do they do?
There are two main Federal Programs, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (the VCF) and the WTC Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program which has four components: the program for FDNY responders, the General Responder Program lead by Mt. Sinai made up of clinics from across the metropolitan area, the Survivor Program, run by New York City at Bellevue Hospital and two other locations and the National Program for responders and survivors outside the Metropolitan region.
September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF)
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, or VCF, was reopened for five years by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 and provided with 2.7 billion dollars in funding. It provides financial compensation for injured and ill 9/11 responders, survivors and the families of those that have died since 9/11 from exposures to toxins at Ground Zero. The program was reauthorized by Congress in 2015 for an additional five years, till 2020, with an additional 4.6 billion dollars in funding to allow for fully compensating those injured and ill.
These individuals may apply for compensation for economic and non-economic (pain and suffering) losses stemming from their physical injuries or illnesses. This can include reimbursement for some medical expenses and or lost income.
For those 9/11 responders or survivors who were diagnosed with a 9/11 injury prior to 2011, October 3rd, 2013 was the deadline to complete and submit a registration form to meet the VCF’s filing requirements.
The deadline for Responders and Survivors who had learned they had a World Trade Center Health Program covered condition after October 3rd, 2013 is two years from the date they first learned they had the condition.
For example, if a 9/11 responder or survivor is diagnosed with a covered 9/11 condition, such as a cancer in 2016, they would have two years from the date of the diagnosis to register and begin the claims process.
You can find information on VCF deadlines here.
All injured and ill 9/11 Responders and 9/11 Survivors and their families should learn about their rights, to make sure they understand the deadlines and do not miss a required filing.
Participating in the WTC Registry or receiving health care or medical monitoring in the WTC Health Program does NOT mean that you have met the deadline requirements for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). For more information visit: http://www.vcf.gov
The World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program
The World Trade Center Health Program (WTC Health Program) was established by the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 and was reauthorized in 2015 to remain open till 2090, essentially making the program permanent for 9/11 responders and survivors. The program provides medical monitoring and treatment for responders, workers, and volunteers who helped with rescue, recovery, and cleanup at the World Trade Center and related sites in New York City. It also provides services for survivors who were in the New York City disaster area, lived worked or were in school in the area. Responders to the Pentagon and the Shanksville, PA crash site are also eligible for services provided by the WTC Health Program.
Enrolling in and participating in the WTC Health Program does NOT mean that you are enrolled in the VCF. There are five components of the WTC Health Programs:
For Responders: The World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program.
Survivors: NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation WTC Environmental Health Center.
For NYFD Personnel: The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Responder Health Program.
For Responders and Survivors who are outside the New York Metropolitan area: The National Responder Program has a nationwide network of clinics with providers across the country. For information about the nationwide provider network call 1-888-982-4748.
For Pentagon and the Shanksville, PA Responders: http://www.cdc.gov/wtc/pentagon.html
The World Trade Center (WTC) Health Registry
The World Trade Center (WTC) Health Registry was established in 2002 to monitor the health of people directly exposed to the WTC disaster — responders and survivors of 9/11 including those who lived, worked, or went to school in the area of the disaster or were involved in clean up and recovery efforts.
Enrollees completed a confidential health survey and are asked to complete follow up surveys every few years so that the Registry can track post-disaster changes in their physical and mental health.
Survey findings are published periodically in medical journals. The WTC Registry does NOT conduct medical tests and is NOT a treatment program. The enrollment in the registry is closed. They are not accepting anyone else to be in the study. Being enrolled in the Registry does NOT mean that you are enrolled in the WTC Health Program or the Victim Compensation Fund.
New York Workers’ Compensation
Normally, workers who are injured must file a claim with the N.Y.S. Workers Compensation Board within two years of sustaining a workplace injury. Since 9/11-related health conditions may not develop for many years, the New York State Legislature amended the law to allow workers and volunteers who participated in WTC rescue and recovery operations to remain eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits if they filed a form (WTC-12) with the N.Y.S Workers Compensation Board.
You MUST still register for the VCF if you want to be considered for compensation by the Federal Compensation program.
Line of Duty Injury
Line of Duty Injury (LODI) benefits enable active-duty FDNY, NYPD, DOC and DSNY employees to get free treatment for illnesses and injuries arising out of participation in WTC operations.
Disability and Death
The New York State Legislature has enacted the World Trade Center (WTC) Disability Law. The law establishes a presumption that certain disabilities for certain New York City and State employees were caused by rescue, recovery or cleanup operations at the WTC and entitle the employee to accidental disability retirement benefits. Even if you are receiving benefits for a World Trade Center injury, you would still need to register with the VCF by the deadline if you want to file a claim.
The World Trade Center Volunteer Fund
The World Trade Center Volunteer Fund (WTC Volunteer Fund) was established by a Federal grant of $50 million dollars many years before the World Trade Center Health Program was created and the VCF reopened. It is administered by the NYS Workers Compensation Board. While volunteers normally are not covered by workers’ compensation, the WTC Volunteer Fund provides traditional workers’ compensation benefits to volunteers who ordinarily would not be qualified to receive assistance who helped with the rescue, recovery and cleanup efforts at the World Trade Center and related sites in New York City. The WTC Volunteer Fund pays for biweekly indemnity (cash) benefits and health care services, and has the administrative flexibility to respond to the unique needs of sick or injured WTC volunteers. Volunteers must be able to provide documentation of their volunteer service and medical documentation establishing that their volunteer service caused their injury or illness.
In 2014, New York State Courts ruled that the NYS Workers Compensation Board had improperly denied unaffiliated volunteers benefits under the program. Previously the State had only provided benefits to injured volunteers who had worked for organizations like the Red Cross or the Salvation Army and not for “unaffiliated” Volunteers. Under the court decision, the State now must provide benefits to injured “unaffiliated” Volunteers.
The WTC Volunteer Fund has limited funding and may cease to provide benefits when the federal funds have been exhausted.
Volunteers are encouraged to apply for benefits through the WTC Health Program and VCF.
For more information for on WTC Volunteer Fund, visit: http://www.wcb.ny.gov/content/main/WTCVolunteerFund/Overview.jsp
Q and A about the World Trade Center Health Program
Q: I know that there is a deadline to register with the September 11, Victim Compensation Fund, but is there a deadline to apply to the World Trade Center Health Program?
No, there is no deadline for joining the World Trade Center Health Program. 9/11 Responders can sign up at any time for medical monitoring and if they are injured or ill can get treatment for covered conditions. Injured and ill 9/11 Survivors can also sign up at any time get medical treatment for their covered conditions. Here is the url for the World Trade Center Health Program application page http://www.cdc.gov/wtc/apply.html
Q: If I was a 9/11 Responder or Survivor but I do not live in the New York area any more can I get medical monitoring and treatment for my 9/11 condition?
Yes, if you are qualify to receive medical monitoring or treatment from the World Trade Center Health Program but do not live in the New York Metropolitan region, you can get services from the Programs Nationwide provider network clinics. You just have to call the helpline 888-982-4748 FREE and complete the application process.
Q: I was a Responder to the Pentagon on 9/11; can I get medical monitoring and treatment?
Yes, as part of the legislation, the World Trade Center Health Program was opened up for Responders to the Pentagon and to the Shanksville Pa. crash site. The Health Program has been open to enrollment for Pentagon and Shanksville Pa. Responders since May of 2013. Here is the url to the webpage that explains the program. http://www.cdc.gov/wtc/pentagon.html