9/11 victims can still get help

BY SYDNEY PEREIRA | Since 9/11, more than 10,000 people have been diagnosed with one of 68 cancers attributed to the W.T.C. toxins, according to the Barasch McGarry law firm, which has represented thousands of first responders and survivors. By 2025, that number is expected to rise to 25,000 people with 9/11 cancers.

“It’s not just cancer,” said attorney Michael Barasch. “These are aggressive,  rare cancers…cancer on steroids.”

Around 2,800 people who have registered with the W.T.C. Health Program have yet to see a doctor through it. A new “surge clinic” opened on William St. late last month is aimed at helping address the current yearlong backlog of 9/11 survivors and first responders.

Technically, the eligibility line runs along Canal St. to East Broadway, then to Clinton St. and to the F.D.R. Drive.

In addition to the health program, Congress created the Sept. 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which financially compensates those with a W.T.C.-related physical illness diagnosed through the W.T.C. Health Program. But differing from the health program, survivors and first responders can only receive compensation through the V.C.F. if they register by Dec. 18, 2020.

“It’s heartbreaking enough when people are diagnosed with cancer, but it’s even worse when they don’t realize they are missing out on free healthcare and compensation,” Barasch said.

The compensation fund was closed in 2003, but later reopened in 2011. Since its reopening, the fund has awarded $4 billion to 22,000 people, and $3 billion remains in the fund. Three years ago, the deadline to file for compensation was extended to 2020.

Congressmember Carolyn Maloney championed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which renewed the compensation fund and expanded health coverage in 2011.

“We must renew our promise to take care of those still dealing with the aftermath of that fateful day,” Maloney said. “With the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund expiring in 2020, I am working on making sure we renew the program so victims and their families get the financial support they need.”

Many who were living, working or going to school south of Canal St. still may not know they are also eligible.

“The biggest challenge is information,” Barasch noted.

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