Deadline Approaches for 9/11 Workers' Comp
It's been nearly 13 years since 9/11, but first responders, volunteers and other cleanup workers are still getting ill because of working in the toxic environment. That's why officials said it's necessary for any person involved in cleanup or rescue after 9/11 and in the surrounding areas to register for workers' compensation benefits.
New York Assemblyman Mike DenDekker worked on site for hundreds of hours during the aftermath of 9/11. He said everyone should register, even if they aren't sick yet.
"Many of those people believe now, if they're healthy, there's no reason to, there's nothing wrong with me, I don't have to file because I'm OK." DenDekker said Friday. "...Well just last week, one of my colleagues with diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, so you never know how long it's going to take."
Officials say about 40,000 people have registered so far, but the Workers' Compensation Board believes there are still tens of thousands who are eligible and have not registered. Congressman Jerry Nadler said part of problem may be that people confuse registering with actually filing a claim.
"This is saying 'I was there.' Period," Nadler said. "All this is doing is reserving the right to file a claim later should you find out you get sick and you think it may have something to do with 9/11."
Officials said after the deadline, anyone who is not registered will not be able to file a claim in the future. They said registration is like an insurance policy. Officials said those who are elligible include day laborers, volunteers and small business owners who needed to return to the area and clean up their own shops. They also said immigration status does not affect one's eligibility to register.
Anyone interested in registering must file a WTC-12 form with the New York State Workers' Compensation Board. It can be found online or by calling 1-855-WTC-2014 for more information.