If you were affected by 9/11 as part of the response and recovery efforts in NYC, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, or the Pentagon, or if you lived or worked in the NYC disaster zone and have 9/11 health concerns, you can apply to the federally funded World Trade Center Health Program and you may be eligible for VCF benefits. CWA recommends that all eligible CWA members take advantage of these important programs. The World Trade Center Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund is funded until 2090.
The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) consists of WTCHP Clinical Centers of Excellence in the NY metropolitan area, including NYC, Long Island, and NJ. There is also a National Program to provide WTC-related health care throughout the country. The WTC Health Program has separate programs for responders and survivors and the eligibility requirements and program benefits differ. The responder program provides free, yearly, medical monitoring, and treatment if needed, for 9/11-related physical health and mental health conditions covered by the program, as well as benefits counseling. You do not have to be sick to participate in the responder program and all of the program’s benefits are free and your insurance is not used. The survivor program provides an initial screening and yearly monitoring, treatment and benefits counseling for survivors with 9/11-related illnesses covered by the program. You can learn more about the WTC Health Program, including information about eligibility and how to apply, at http://www.cdc.gov/wtc/index.html.
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”) was created to provide financial compensation for an eligible individual (or a personal representative of a deceased individual) who suffered physical harm for has been certified in the WTCHP for certain 9/11-related health conditions, including many cancers, or was killed as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001 or the rescue and recovery efforts that took place in the aftermath of those crashes. CWA recommends that all members who participated in 9/11 response activities or who lived or worked in the NYC disaster area, should register with the VCF, even if you do not have a 9/11-related illness. Registration is free and easy to do and does not start a claim. All of the documentation you will need to start a claim is explained on the VCF website. You can learn more about the VCF at www.vcf.gov.
Note: CWA members who apply to the WTC Health Program or who file a claim with the VCF will have to show “proof of presence”. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, including a letter from your employer, witness statements from two people who have personal knowledge of your response work after 9/11 or of your presence as a “survivor” who lived or worked in the area. The documents or proof you will need are outlined on the websites of the programs (links above).
Members can contact their local union which may be able to help get documentation from the employer (if it exists) or may be able to help locate co-workers who might be able to provide a witness statement for presence.
CWA’s Deputy Director for Occupational Safety and Health has maintained many documents at the CWA District 1 office which were collected from some employers and members in the months after 9/11. These documents may help some members who worked for Verizon, AT&T (Local 1150), Lucent (several locals from around the country), ABC Disney and NBC (NABET-CWA Locals 16 and 11), and NY Downtown Hospital/Beekman (now NY Presbyterian Downtown) in establishing eligibility and “proof of presence” for the WTC Health Program and the VCF.
For more information and help, please contact CWA’s Deputy Director for Occupational Safety and Health, Micki Siegel de Hernández at email@example.com, or reach out to your CWA Local.