Zadroga Act: Background
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, which is commonly known as the Zadroga Act is made up 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 toxins in the air after the Twin Towers collapsed following the 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 following the attacks.
Researchers have determined that the toxic cloud that hovered over New York City 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 toxic plume has been tied to approximately 90 chronic and debilitating health problems, including over 60 types of cancer.
Many responders and survivors have died as a result of their illnesses and experts believe that the number of those who will die since the accidents will be greater that the number of people who died on the day of the attack.
Reauthorization Act Background
The reauthorized James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act passed in December 2015 following approval of the $8.1 billion measure to renew the Act. President Obama signed the Act into law on December 18, 2015.
The reauthorized Zadroga Act extends the Act’s programs and provides adequate funding and benefits to care for the terrorist attacks’ first responders and survivors for the rest of their lives.
The World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program was extended to 2090 with $3.5 billion in funding to monitor and care for 73,000 responders and survivors.
Updates to the programs are made as new disorders are found to be associated with the toxic cloud that followed the collapse of the Twin Towers that hovered over lower Manhattan.
Differences Between 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.
What is 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 in Washington D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, as well as survivors who were in the New York City disaster area.
The program does not cover every illness or injury resulting from the terrorist attacks; however, as of July 2017, the WTC Health program does cover 68 specific types of WTC-related cancers and approximately 30 other health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses, certain respiratory disorders, and certain aerodigestive disorders.
As well as providing medical monitoring and treatment, the WTC Health Program also provides education and outreach for potentially eligible individuals; collection and review of physical and mental health data with program members’ permission; and research to better understand health conditions related to the attacks.
Only a physician in the WTC Health Program is able to determine if a health condition is related to the terrorist attacks. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “By law, the WTC Health Program is limited to the coverage of certified WTC-related health conditions.
If you believe you may be eligible for the Program, more information on the program and applications can be found on our How to Apply page.
If you think you may be eligible for coverage under the WTC program, apply to the program on the CDC’s site. “Once you apply and have been determined to be eligible, and you have enrolled in the WTC Health Program, you will choose a clinic for your initial appointment,” according to the CDC.
At the initial appointment, and at any following appointments, a physician who has been approved by the WTC Health Program will determine if you have a WTC-health related conditions.
The WTC Health Program provider will determine, based on a clinical evaluation of the specific exposure situation and the type of health condition that developed, the patient’s diagnosis.
The CDC also notes that, “Then, the WTC Health Program must approve (certify) the evaluation and diagnosis to permit you to receive treatment for the specific health condition through your Clinical Center of Excellence or the Nationwide Provider Network at no cost to you.”
Once the WTC Health Program makes its final decision, the Clinical Center of Excellence or Nationwide Provider Network will share the decision with you by letter from the program, according to the CDC.
General Information on Conditions Covered by the WTC Health Program
The WTC Health Program provides health evaluations, testing, and treatment for conditions that are specified by law in the Zadroga Act or certified by the WTC Program Administrator. The Program Administrator is also the Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Coverage is for “eligible people who were present in the dust or dust cloud on 9/11 or who worked, resided, or attended school, childcare, or adult daycare in the New York City disaster area for a period of time on 9/11 and/or during the following months.”
In addition to respiratory, aerodigestive disorders, and mental health conditions, secondary conditions related to disease progression or complications from treatment of the primary covered health condition are also covered.
Certain musculoskeletal disorders are covered for Fire Department of New York (FDNY) members and other responders who were injured during and in the response to the terrorist attacks.
Questions Concerning the Zadroga Act
Parker Waichman also promises to continue its efforts to protect those who were exposed to Ground Zero’s toxic cloud and the trauma 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 Zadroga Act attorneys.
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