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N.Y. law creates notification system to alert WTC victims of benefits eligibility

The “9/11 Notice Act” will alert workers in the area of the World Trade Center during the 9/11 attacks of financial, healthcare benefits


AP Photo/John Minchillo, File

By Paul Liotta
Staten Island Advance

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 took the lives of nearly 3,000 people that day, but went on to impact the lives of thousands more who lived and worked in the surrounding area.

That’s why on June 22 the New York Legislature unanimously passed the “9/11 Notice Act,” which will authorize the state to establish a notification system for businesses and their current and past employees about their eligibility for the federal September Eleventh Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) and the World Trade Center Health Program.

State Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan), a former Staten Islander whose district includes the World Trade Center site, introduced the legislation in his chamber, and said the bill would enlist employers who had employees working in the eligible area between Sept. 11, 2001 and July 31, 2002 to notify each person of their potential benefits from the programs.

“There are many workers, including first responders, retail employees, cleanup workers, office workers, and others who were in the vicinity of the World Trade Center during and after the horrific 9/11 terrorist attacks who may be experiencing WTC related illnesses and may be eligible for financial and healthcare benefits, but may not realize they are,” he said. “Our bill seeks to remedy this.”

A federal law passed in 2019 fully funded and extended the VCF through 2090, but advocates say funding shortfalls remain for the World Trade Center Health Program.

To be eligible for compensation from the VCF, an individual must be able to prove they were present at one of the attack sites, in the exposure area, or along the routes of debris removal from the time of the attacks to May 30, 2002, and have a 9/11-related illness or injury certified by the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program.

Michael Barasch, 9/11 legal advocate and managing partner of Barasch & McGarry, has represented countless people whose health has been impacted by the toxic air in Lower Manhattan after the terrorist attacks, including former NYPD officer James Zadroga, for whom the federal government’s legislation creating the first health fund related to the attacks is named.

He said he hopes the new state legislation would help make civilians impacted by the terrorist attacks aware of the benefits available to them.

"[During] the months after 9/11, the downtown office workers, residents, students and teachers were exposed to the same toxins as the firefighters and cops,” Barasch said. “Not surprisingly, they are being diagnosed with and dying from the same illnesses. Hopefully, this law will ensure that the civilian victims take advantage of the free health care to which they are entitled and that they receive compensation for all their certified 9/11 illnesses.”

A spokesperson for Gov. Kathy Hochul said she will review the legislation.

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