Zadroga Act – 9/11 Attorneys in New York
On September 11, 2001, 19 terrorists tied to the Islamic extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners, carrying out multiple suicide attacks against United States targets, according to History.com. Two planes were flown into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, ultimately collapsing both of the massive skyscrapers. A third plane hit the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C., and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
More than 3,000 people were killed during the terrorist attacks, which included more than 400 police officers and firefighters. More than 10,000 people were also injured as a result of the attacks, according to CNN.
On September 11, 2001, at 8:45 a.m. an American Airlines Boeing 767 loaded with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center, leaving a massive hole near the 80th floor of the 110-story skyscraper. Hundreds of people were instantly killed; hundreds of people were trapped in the higher floors, ultimately dying. Eighteen minutes later, a second Boeing 767, United Airlines Flight 175, flew into the south tower, striking the building near the 60th floor. The impact caused a massive explosion that spewed burning debris over area buildings and streets.
The attackers, who were Islamic terrorists from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon, were reportedly financed by Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist organization. The group was allegedly acting in retaliation for America’s involvement in the Persian Gulf War, its support of Israel and continued military presence in the Middle East.
Some of the terrorists involved in the attacks lived in the United States for more than one year and took flying lessons at American commercial flight schools while others entered the country months before September 11, 2001. The 19 terrorists smuggled box-cutters and knives through security at three East Coast airports and boarded four flights bound for California. The planes were chosen because they were full of fuel for the long transcontinental journey. Soon after takeoff, the terrorists commandeered the planes, according to History.com.
American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the west side of the Pentagon military headquarters at 9:45 a.m. The force of the impact, as well as the jet fuel from the Boeing 757 caused a massive fire that led to the structural collapse of a portion of the Pentagon. A total of 125 military personnel and civilians were killed, as well as all 64 people aboard the airliner, History.com reported.
Meanwhile, in New York, the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed in a massive cloud of dust and smoke. At 10:30 a.m., the north tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. Nearly 3,000 people died in the World Trade Center and its vicinity, including 343 firefighters and paramedics, 23 New York City police officers, and 37 Port Authority police officers who were evacuating of the buildings and saving workers trapped on higher floors. Six people in the World Trade Center towers, at the time of their collapse, survived. Almost 10,000 others were treated for injuries, many severe, according to The Huffington Post.
A fourth California-bound plane, United Flight 93, was hijacked approximately 40 minutes after leaving Newark International Airport in New Jersey, the Huffington Post noted. As a result of the flight’s delayed departure from Newark, passengers on board learned of the events in New York and Washington by cell phone and Airfone calls. Due to the fact that the hijackers claimed that the airplane was not returning to an airport, a group of passengers and flight attendants planned a rebellion. The passengers fought the four hijackers and are believed to have stormed the cockpit with a fire extinguisher.
During the commotion on the aircraft, the plane rushed towards the ground at least 500 miles per hour. The plane crashed in a rural field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania at 10:10 a.m. All 45 people aboard were killed. The intended target remains unknown; however, theories included the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland, or one of several nuclear power plants along the eastern seaboard, The New York Times pointed out.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 exposed some 500,000 individuals—workers, residents, and rescue and recovery workers—to a toxic cloud of dust, fumes, chemicals, carcinogens, and heavy metals that have led to various medical conditions and injuries, including cancer, respiratory diseases, aerodigestive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other illnesses.
Zadroga Act: Background
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, more commonly known as the Zadroga Act, is comprised of two programs. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), which is designed to compensate individuals who have suffered from any of the many cancers or other illnesses caused by exposure to the extraordinary level of thousands of cancer-causing toxins in the air after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program provides medical treatment and monitoring for individuals present at/or near Ground Zero on 9/11 and in the months after the attacks, according to VCF.com.
Researchers determined that the toxic cloud contained heavy metals; partially combusted and/or pulverized cement, jet fuel, wood, and paper; pulverized construction materials, including asbestos and lead, that also included glass, silica, fiberglass, and concrete; complex organic and other chemicals; and other hazardous and carcinogenic materials.
As of April 2017, exposure to the debris has been associated with some 90 chronic and debilitating health problems, including over 60 types of cancer. Sadly, many responders and survivors have succumbed to their illnesses and it is expected that the number of those who will die following the accidents will be greater that the number of people who died on the day of the attack.
The Reauthorization Act
The reauthorized James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act passed in December 2015 and followed approval of the $8.1 billion measure to renew the Act, which was signed into law on December 18, 2015 by President Obama and extends the Zadroga Act’s programs. The Act will provide adequate funding and benefits to care for the first responders and survivors of the terrorist attacks for their lifetimes. Congressional representatives included an $8.1 billion measure to renew the Act in the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending package finalized and released in December 2015, according to various new outlets, including Newsday, The New York Times, and The New York Daily News.
The World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program will continue to provide medical treatment and monitoring and was extended to 2090 with $3.5 billion in funding to monitor and care for 73,000 responders and survivors. The Victims Compensation Fund (VCF) was extended to 2021 with $4.6 billion in funding.
Updates to the programs are periodically made as new disorders are found to be associated with the toxic plume the followed the collapse of the Twin Towers that hovered over lower Manhattan. If you have questions about Reauthorization Act feel free to contact New York Reauthorization Act Lawyers at Parker Waichman LLP.
The Zadroga Act Programs
The WTC Health Program and the VCF are different programs. Each program requires separate registration. Enrollment in the WTC Health Program does not automatically register an individual to the VCF and for those being treated by, or monitored through, the WTC Health Program, eligibility for compensation from the VCF is not automatic.
The WTC Health Program provides medical monitoring and treatment for physical injuries and conditions that are due to 9/11 exposure. The VCF provides compensation due to losses resulting from physical injuries and conditions associated with exposure to the terrorist attacks.
The World Trade Center Health Program
The World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program provides medical monitoring and treatment for responders at the WTC and related sites in New York City, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, as well as survivors who were in the New York City disaster area.
The James Zadroga Bill provides for compensation from the September 11 Fund for anyone who meets its requirements for location and time period requirements and does not distinguish among those individuals who worked in rescue, recovery, or cleanup and those who lived or worked in the immediate vicinity. The program does not cover every illness or injury resulting from the 9/11 attacks, but does cover 68 specific types of WTC-related cancers and approximately 30 other health conditions, including certain respiratory and aerodigestive disorders. Parker Waichman has many fully versed New York Health Program Lawyers.
The WTC and VCF Disability Evaluation Process
The VCF has collaborated with the WTC Health Program to implement a disability evaluation process for those individuals who are disabled due to an eligible condition, but who do not have a determination of a total and permanent disability from some other source, such as the Social Security Administration, a state Workers’ Compensation program, or a private doctor or insurance company. This program provides a way for individuals with a disability evaluation for purposes of the VCF claim.
The program is only intended for victims who have partial or full disability due to an eligible condition but who do not have, or cannot receive, a disability determination from one of the standard third-party entities. Victims who already have a disability decision based on an ineligible condition may be candidates for the program should their eligible condition also became disabling, according to VCF.gov.
Fifth Annual VCF Report: 2016
The fifth annual statement of the 911 Health Watch on the Release of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) was released in March 2016 by VCF.gov and reveals significant progress for responders and survivors and the continued promise of ongoing progress. According to the VCF report, “Today’s release by the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of its 5th Annual Report along with updated statistics continues to show real progress in providing the assistance that injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors have been waiting for.”
The report indicated that, by close of 2016, the VCF made over 11,500 determinations totaling $2.27 billion in compensation. Some statistics on which the Special Master reported include that as of December 31st, 2016, of those registered with the VCF, 25,318 submitted eligibility forms; 15,851 were found eligible and 4,811 claims were denied. All Group A compensation determinations were paid. Of the 9,125 determinations from Group A, 7,732 were for responders, 1,096 were for non responders, and 108 were for injured residents. There were also a total of 2,424 Group B determinations made that were comprised of 1,876 responders, 402 non-responders, and 55 injured residents, according to VCF.gov.
Eligibility for VCF Benefits
According to the VCF.gov, it has streamlined and simplified the claim form and other documents needed to process a claim. For example, its Eligibility, Compensation, Personal Injury, and Deceased claim forms have been combined into one form. The Private Physician packet is also part of the claim form. The VCF also minimized how many documents are needed to process a claim; provides a Document Checklist to help identify specific, required supporting document needed to file a claim; and maintains a Navigation Tip Sheet online that provides information as to how to navigate the new online claim system.
The VCF.gov notes that the new forms use the terms “Victim” and “Claimant.” A victim is an individual diagnosed with a September 11th-related physical injury or condition, while a claimant is an individual filing the claim seeking compensation for the victim. Individuals who are filing an injury claim on their own behalf are both the claimant and the victim.
VCF.gov also points out that, while the hard copy Claim Form remains available, it encourages claim submission using it new online claim system, which enables users to create an account and register with the VCF. Claimants may file a future claim to complete and submit the claim form; file an amendment to a prior submitted claim, following VCF instructions; upload supporting documents; view sent VCF correspondence; update contact information, attorney information, and/or representative information; view provided information upon completion of the claim form; and include information that may have been entered on a claim form that was begun, but not submitted.
Both the Eligibility and Compensation portions of the claim must be submitted before the VCF is able to start its review, process a claim, and determine eligibility and compensation.
Differences Between Group A and Group B
Group A claims losses were computed in compliance with regulations published in August 2011. The new law directed the VCF to make the full payment on Group A claims “as soon as practicable after enactment of the legislation.” The VCF completed all Group A payments in August 2016, except for claims with issues preventing payment. Group A is closed.
Group B claim decisions could not be made until the Special Master published the updated regulations explaining how claims are to be processed under the new law and funding became available to pay for these claims. This applies even if individuals submitted their claim forms and supporting documents prior to the reauthorization. The Final Rule was published on September 2, 2016, and the VCF begin processing Group B payments on October 1, 2016 when funding became available.
Questions About Zadroga Act Benefits
If you or someone you know was injured or died due to injuries allegedly suffered as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the attorneys at Parker Waichman. The firm has long fought for the heroes and survivors of the attacks, including lobbying and fighting alongside Ground Zero residents, workers, first responders, and other survivors and advocates and has worked to help ensure passage of the Zadroga Act and its amendments.
Parker Waichman also promises to continue its efforts to protect those who were exposed to Ground Zero’s toxic cloud and the psychological of the attacks, and ensure that all the deserved Zadroga Act compensation is received. To determine your eligibility for benefits, the illnesses covered, and filing a claim, please contact our experienced team of New York Elegibility For Benefits Lawyers.