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9/11 Responders and Residents Exposed to WTC Dust 15 Times More Likely to Develop Neuropathy

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Peripheral Neuropathy Affecting 9/11 Survivors

A new study published in the January 2016 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine concludes the exposure to World Trade Center (WTC) dust after 9/11 is associated with “neuropathic symptoms”.  The new  research, conducted by Marc Wilkenfeld, MD and associates from Winthrop University Hospital in Long Island, New York, substantiates the growing number of physical symptoms of 9/11 responders and lower Manhattan residents who are complaining of sensations of “burning, pain, numbness and tingling” in their hands and feet. 

Turley Hansen has been representing clients with peripheral neuropathy for over 25 years, usually as it relates to Type 2 diabetes. No matter the cause. this is often a terribly painful and disabling condition which leads many to apply for Social Security disability benefits.   Medications such as gabapentin (Neurontin) and pregabalin (Lyrica) sometimes relieve nerve pain.  However, there is no cure once the nerves are damaged, which makes 9/11 related neuropathy as serious as many other 9/11 covered conditions under the Zadroga Act and the Victim Compensation Fund. 

If you have been diagnosed with “neuropathy” that you think is the result of exposure to 9/11 dust and toxins, call our office today for a Free Case Review at 1-855-WTC-INFO.

Newsday Article on Neuropathy on those Exposed to 9/11 WTC Dust

New York Newsday recently published an excellent article on the impact of neuropathy on 9/11 responders and residents of lower Manhattan. Based upon the new study published by Dr. Wilkenfeld at Winthrop University Hospital, a petition has been submitted to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to include neuropathy as a “covered ” 9/11 Zadroga Act condition.

The Story of Retired NYPD Officer John Coughlin and his 9/11 Neuropathy 

Now it appears the dust cloud caused even more problems than previously thought. Retired police officer John Coughlin, who worked in recovery after the attacks, has endured heart disease, sinusitis, stomach problems, PTSD, diminished lung capacity and chronic acid reflux following 9/11.

Coughlin then began having numbness and tingling in his feet, then in his fingers. With little feeling in his feet, Coughlin had to be very careful when walking lest he step on something sharp without realizing it. Since the nerves in his feet were damaged, any wound he received would be extremely slow to heal.

The latest Winthrop study has placed symptoms of neuropathy even higher than among the population of Type 1 diabetics. It is unknown whether the nerve damage was a result of breathing in the toxic dust or exposed skin.

What is Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is a result of damage to your peripheral nerves and often causes weakness, numbness and pain in your hands and feet. Peripheral neuropathy can result from traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic problems, diabetes, inherited causes and exposure to toxins. It is this “exposure to toxins” from 9/11 WTC dust which has caused so much neuropathy in 9/11 responders and lower Manhattan residents. 

Those Exposed to 9/11 Dust “15 Times More Likely” to Develop Neuropathy

Dr. Wilkenfeld, a physician who has treated hundreds of World Trade Center patients, became alarmed when he began hearing the same list of symptoms from one patient after another. In an interview, Dr. Wilkenfeld noted that more than one patient had their hand go so numb so quickly, they dropped a cup of coffee or something else they were holding. Dr. Wilkenfield joined forces with Mark Stecker, MD who has done prior studies which tested how the nerves of rats react to various substances.

After obtaining some of the toxic dust from the World Trade Center, Stecker and Wilkenfeld ran tests on rats, using the dust. Clearly, the dust damaged the nerves of the rats. Stecker and Wilkenfield then surveyed 255 people, half of whom had been exposed to the toxic dust cloud of the World Trade Center. The exposed patients were a staggering 15 times more likely to exhibit severe neuropathy symptoms than those who had not been exposed to the dust.

What’s in the Toxic Dust from 9/11 that causes Neuropathy?

When the South, then the North Towers came down, vast clouds of dust swirled, blocking the sunlight and putting those below in a near-black environment. When the dust clouds settled, virtually every surface was covered with a fine, penetrating dust, which permeated buildings below, contaminating air conditioning systems and requiring extensive decontamination measures. The dust was thicker downwind of the complex, settling in depths as much as three inches a full six blocks from the World Trade Center.

This toxic dust cloud was comprised of pulverized glass and cement, asbestos, benzene, sulfur, radionuclides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, brominated diphenyl ethers, phthalate esters, poly-chlorinated biphenyls, dibenzodioxins and dibenzofurans.

Philip Landrigan, chairman of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a major 9/11 health researcher called the dust “nasty stuff.”  Landrigan stated that two-thirds of the mass was pulverized concrete, which is very caustic, with a pH as high as 11. Those high alkaline pH levels are believed to be what burned the eyes, noses, respiratory tracts and esophagus’ of 9/11 survivors.

Will Neuropathy Become a Covered 9/11 Disease under the Zadroga Act?

Unfortunately, neuropathy is not among the diseases covered under the new Zadroga Reauthorization Act currently. The disease is being considered for 9/11 Zadroga Act coverage, however a formal medical peer review is necessary before adding a new illness. Neuropathy has no cure, and, in most cases, progresses over time, making it an extremely painful and disabling disease. Hopefully, it will be added within the next year as a 9/11 covered illness.

Just like Turley Hansen did with our successful fight for inclusion of cancer under the Zadroga Act, we will do the same for neuropathy.

9/11 WTC Cancers Still on the Rise

Various 9/11 cancers, such as leukemia, myelomakidney and lung cancer, melanoma, prostate and bladder cancers and mesothelioma are being seen more and more often among those who survived 9/11 WTC dust cloud, even though cancer was just added in 2012 as a covered disease under the Zadroga Act.

A relatively new set of symptoms which includes what many call a “terrible numbness” in their hands and feet, is the most recent complaint observed by doctors who examine survivors of 9/11. The issue is known as neuropathy, and causes tingling and pain in the nerve endings of the extremities.

Extended Medical Coverage to 2090 through World Trade Center Health Program

In late 2015, Congress passed an updated version of the Zadroga Act which extended medical coverage for survivors and first responders of 9/11 through 2090. Now neuropathy must be added to the list of covered diseases. If you or a loved one has suffered neuropathy or any other disease related to your exposure to the toxic dust of 9/11, it can be extremely beneficial to speak to an experienced attorney about your symptoms.

Doctors who examine 9/11 survivors typically ask a specific set of questions in order to determine whether the patient’s afflictions were the result of the toxic dust cloud that settled over the World Trade Center following the bombings.

Support Adding Neuropathy as a Covered Illness in the 9/11 Zadroga Act

We  encourage all first responders and their families to join us in supporting the addition of neuropathy to the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

Should you have any questions about the Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act or World Trade Center Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, please call us for a Free Case Review at 1-855-WTC-INFO, click the chat button or contact us at the top of this page.

We will continue to keep you updated on the status of adding neuropathy as a covered 9/11 illness under the Zadroga Act. 

September 11th Victim Compensation Fund – New Message from Special Master Sheila Birnbaum

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The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) Special Master, Sheila Birnbaum, issued a new statement today regarding the Reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.   Click link here to read her entire messageSeptember 11th Victim Compensation Fund_Sheila Birnbaum Message_12_30_2015_2.

Special Master Birnbaum’s statement is intended to inform claimants of the procedures she plans on implementing to carry out the directives in the new Zadroga Re-authorization Act.

Specifically, she stated that the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund will:

  • Move additional staff to support payment of “Group A Claims” (written loss determinations issued on or before 12/17/2015) “expeditiously”;
  • Expects it will take 3-6 months to complete “Group A” payments;
  • Develop new policies and procedures, including re-evaluating claim forms, for “Group B Claims” to increase efficiency;
  • Pay all “Group A Claims” fully before paying any compensation on “Group B Claims”;
  • Continue to process and render decisions on “eligibility” claims submitted before 12/18/2015;
  • Continue to review “compensation” claims submitted before 12/18/2015. However, the VCF estimates that  no new award determinations will be made until the summer of 2016 and no actual payments will be made until the fall of 2016;
  • Post updates and changes on the Victim Compensation Fund website, www.VCF.gov . (Also, see this website for analysis and advice on the updates and changes);
  • Commits to transparency and fairness in the award determination process;
  • Welcomes comments and input to implement the changes required by the new law;

Bottom Line – the Special Master and her staff at the Justice Department have a huge amount of work in the next 180 days to plan and implement new procedures for the very welcome Zadroga Reauthorization Act.

Turley Hansen and Partners wish the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund good luck in implementing the new Zadroga Reauthorization Act and stand ready to assist in their efforts to issue much needed compensation to 9/11 heroes as soon as possible.

9/11 Zadroga Act Reauthorization – You Won the Long, Good Fight for the Medical Benefits You Deserve!

Thank you for passing the 9/11 Zadroga Act Extension

Credit – NY Daily News, 12/19/2015

The above front cover from Saturday’s New York Daily News says it all about the passage of the new 9/11 Zadroga Act Extension law:  THANK YOU!

So many people were involved in this amazing grass-roots effort to help hero 9/11 first responders that it is impossible to single out only a few.  And even if one could single out the most important players in getting the Zadroga Act through Congress, they are the types that would prefer to remain anonymous, humble carriers of this great cause.  Real heroes, plain and simple.

May you and your families have a happy and healthy Holiday.  Thank You for supporting the Reauthorization of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act and God Bless!

Details of New 9/11 Zadroga Act Extension Law: What You Need to Know

Congress Must Pass 9_11 Zadroga Act Extension to Protect Cancer Victims

Late last night, our attorneys had a chance to review in detail the new James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act bill released by the House of Representatives. Here is what you need to know and what you may not have read in the newspapers:

  • The Act directs the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) Special Master to authorize payment of previously reduced payments of final awards made prior to the enactment of the new law “as soon as practicable”.  For example, this means that a claimant who was awarded $100,000 last year for his 9/11 injuries, but only received $10,000 initially, will receive the $90,000 balance of the award from the government as soon as reasonably possible. This should make many of our clients, who have patiently been waiting for their full award, very happy!
  • The Act extends medical care through the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) to 2090 which will essentially cover any 9/11 responders or lower Manhattan residents who develop a 9/11 cancer during their lifetime, including asbestos related cancers such as mesothelioma and lung cancer;
  • Extends the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) for five more years and adds an additional $4.6 billion to pay claims;
  • Important to residents of lower Manhattan (who are also eligible for Victim Compensation Fund benefits should they develop a 9/11 cancer), the Act defines the actual “exposure area” for both residents and responders to:
    • the area in Manhattan that is south of the line that runs along Canal Street from the Hudson River to the intersection of Canal Street and East Broadway, north on East Broadway to Clinton Street, and east on Clinton Street to the East River“.  Any resident who lived in this area of Lower Manhattan between 9/11/2001 and 5/30/2002 and develops a 9/11 related cancer will be eligible to file a claim.
  • The Act caps pain and suffering awards for cancer at $250,000 (already the unofficial standard) and $90,000 for non-cancer claims.
  • The Act directs the Special Master to “establish a system for determining” which claims will be considered Group A claims vs. Group B claims. Essentially, Group B claims are subject to the new caps under the law. The Special Master will issue regulations to determine which claims will fall into Group A and which will fall into Group B. 

For a full copy of the Zadroga  9/11 Zadroga Act Reauthorization bill released by the House last night, click this link: Zadroga Reauthorization Act 2015 Final Highlighted.

Remember , the Act must still be voted on and approved by Congress and sent to the President for his signature.  We will keep you informed of further details.

9/11 First Responders Make Final Push for Zadroga Act Extension

First responders Final push for Zadroga Act  Extension

Time is running out for Congress to pass the James Zadroga Act extension which has majority bi-partisan support in both the Senate and House. So what’s the problem?

House Speaker Paul Ryan unequivocally supports re-authorization of the Zadroga Act.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), who has publicly said he supports passage, wants to add certain “pay-fors” in order to fund the spending needed for both the health care and compensation portions of the Zadroga Extension.  He is willing to add the Zadroga Act Extension to the Omnibus bill which Congress votes on this Friday only if he gets his “pay-fors”.

A “pay -for” is essentially a new tax on some to be used to fund a new spending program for others.  In the case of Zadroga, the Republicans say they would like to would like to fund the Zadroga Act Extension through a new “tax” on Medicare premiums for millionaires.  So far, the Democrats say this is unacceptable.

Regardless,  determined first responders, with the help of the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, continue to pound on doors in Congress to push the Zadroga Act Extension through.  Their heroic efforts in Congress to help the sick in need is only surpassed by their heroic efforts on and after 9/11.  God bless them.

I expect negotiations will go down to the wire on how to pay for the Zadroga Act Extension. We will certainly know more this Friday.  Stay tuned!

Getting the Job Done – Speaker Paul Ryan Supports Extension of the 9/11 Zadroga Act

Speaker Paul Ryan Supports Zadroga Extension

Upon his election as Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan said that the Republicans in the House would now become the “proposition party”, not the “opposition party”.   He has now proven it.

This website previously asked the new Speaker to lead in supporting the James Zadroga 9/11 Act Extension bill.   In the wake of the Paris ISIS attacks, Speaker Ryan has come out in strong support of a  James Zadroga 9/11 Extension bill.  Thank you Speaker Ryan!

The Speaker stated that he expects that the House of Representatives can move the bill along by January 2016. This is great news for all with current and future 9/11 related cancer claims. It is also great news for all current 9/11 victims who have been already awarded benefits, but are actually awaiting their remaining 90% payout after October 2016.

There was substantial doubt whether the currently available funds in the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) would allow full payments of all awards or whether awards would have to be reduced on a pro-rated basis.

While the details of the bill that will eventually pass the House still need to be worked out (especially the funding mechanism and amount of funding), this is all good news.  As we approach Thanksgiving, all 9/11 first responders have something to be thankful for.

In addition, we should all thank the determined and indefatigable coalition in Congress and the responders who have consistently walked the halls in Washington, D.C. for this major breakthrough.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

 

 

Senator Marco Rubio Announces Support for Zadroga Act Extension to Protect 9/11 Cancer Victims

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On the heals of the Paris attacks by ISIS, top tier Republican candidate for President, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, announced yesterday that he will co-sponsor the James Zadroga Re-Authorization Act which will fully protect 9/11 cancer victims.  His support brings the number of Senators supporting re-authorization to 66.  Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina recently announced his support for Zadroga re-authorization, in addition Presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and George Pataki.  It is likely that the new support of Sen. Rubio will move the other Republican candidates for President to take a public position on the Zadroga re-authorization.

To date, Republican Presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, has not stated his position on re-authorization of the Zadroga Act.  Surprisingly, neither Gov. Chris Christie nor Donald Trump have indicated their support for the Zadroga Act re-authorization despite living close to the 9/11 disaster.  Jeb Bush has been silent on the issue despite his brother, former President George W. Bush, creating the original Victim Compensation Fund.

The Zadroga Act extension was also endorsed yesterday by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  Despite the new support of Senator Rubio, who could well be our next President, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) continues to prevent the full Zadroga Act re-authorization bill to come to the House floor for a vote as does House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

In light of the recent ISIS attacks in Paris, and the strong likelihood that the United States will need it’s first responders to selflessly rescue and recover more American victims in the future after future attacks similar to 9/11, the need to pass the Zadroga Act re-authorization is more urgent than ever.

Permanently renewing legislation to benefit Ground Zero first responders could be financed by closing a tax loophole. Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, perhaps the staunchest  supporter of the full and permanent re-authorization of the Zadroga Act in the Senate, announced yesterday that closing a tax loophole allowing foreign insurance companies to avoid paying taxes in the U.S. could fully fund the Zadroga re-authorization.  That is a win-win for American taxpayers and 9/11 first responders with cancer.

In the House of Representatives, New York  Republican Rep. Peter King and Democrat Rep. Jerry Nadler and Rep. Carolyn Maloney continue to be heroes in  pushing full re-authorization of the Zadroga Act.

The ISIS attacks in Paris last Friday were a game changer in how our country fights radical Islamic terrorism.  If the U.S. is attacked again in the near future, our first responders and volunteers need to know that our country will take care of any illnesses or injuries they suffer while they rescue innocent civilians.  In many ways, they are no different than our troops who have already fought (and continue to fight) in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.  All the Zadroga Act re-authorization does is give sick responders similar medical care and compensation like wounded warriors.

Medical care for 9/11 responders has already expired. It is time that the House and Senate work out any legislative differences and allow the Zadroga Act Extension bill to come to the vote on the floor.

Otherwise, we may not be prepared for another Paris.

 

 

 

 

Why are Congressional Leaders Turning Their Back on Marci Simms and the 9/11 Zadroga Act?

NYPD Lt Marci Simms Dies of 9_11 Lung Cancer

New York Police Department Lieutenant Macy Simms died last week of 9/11 related lung cancer. Rest in Peace Lt. Simms.

Thankfully, all of Lt. Simms’ medical care was covered under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010.  Last month the medical coverage portion of the Zadroga 9/11 Act expired, leaving current and future 9/11 cancer victims without medical coverage.

With either a wanton disregard or a shameful lack of human decency, House leaders failed to bring overwhelmingly bi-partisan bill to the floor for a vote which would extend medical care and compensation for all 9/11 heroes with cancer who were exposed to the deadly toxins at Ground Zero.

When he was recently elected Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan stated: “we [Republicans] need to move from being an opposition party to a proposition party”.

It was a very powerful statement  – and a promise that the American people should hold Speaker Ryan to in relation to the Zadroga Re-Authorization Act. 

Their are now 246 House co-sponsors and 64 Senate co-sponsors (both Republican and Democrat)  of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Re-authorization Act.   Both the House and the Senate are controlled by Republican majorities. This bill would make the Act permanent and fully funded, just like benefits for disabled veterans’.

So, I respectfully ask Speaker Ryan if he plans to support or oppose the current overwhelmingly bipartisan  James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Re-authorization Act bill?  Are the House Republicans an “opposition party or a proposition party” as he has promised?

The late Marci Simms and her fellow heroes need to know.

New House Speaker Paul Ryan Needs to Lead on Zadroga 9/11 Extension Bill

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Unfortunately for 9/11 cancer victims and their families, a few powerful House Committee Chairmen in Washington, DC are proposing to only temporarily extend  and under-fund the 9/11 James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act.  Specifically, they are proposing to extend the 9/11 Zadroga Act for only five years and cut funding up to 60%.  This  treatment of 9/11 heroes, who now have cancer or will in the future, is unconscionable.  Members of the New York Congressional delegation held a rally today at the 9/11 Memorial to oppose any  Republican gamesmanship which would result in insufficient funding for the 9/11 Zadroga Act Extension.  New House Speaker Paul Ryan must lead and support national heroes on this moral issue.

9/11 first responders are like military veterans who selflessly risked their lives while New York City and the Pentagon were under attack from radical Islamist terrorists. Just like military veterans who served on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, they should have lifelong permanent treatment and compensation for their injuries.  No true American would ever propose to defund our veterans’ hospitals or their disability compensation.  None other than distinguished Senator and former Republican Presidential candidate John McCain (R- Arizona) supports a permanent and fully funded extension of the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

Our country now needs our new Speaker Paul Ryan to lead his fellow House leaders on this moral issue. Speaker Ryan is a practicing Catholic who many say takes Pope Francis as his “moral role model”. Pope Francis just prayed for all 9/11 victims at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City last month which I am sure moved Speaker Ryan.  Certainly, Speaker Ryan must concede that a permanent and fully funded Zadroga Act extension is a moral issue of social justice as opposed to a simple Washington, DC budget issue.

Our hero first responders  are dying of 9/11 related cancers every day.  Currently, a majority of the House of Representatives are co-sponsors of the permanent and fully funded Zadroga Act extension (241 to be exact).  Likewise, the Senate has a filibuster proof majority of 62 senators supporting a permanent extension. The recent insufficient temporary bills introduced in the House by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) should be non-starters on both majority principles and moral grounds.

Our new House Speaker Paul Ryan has the power persuade his House leadership to do the right thing on the 9/11 Zadroga Act extension. The rank and file are already on board.  He must reject newly introduced anti-majoritarian bills on this moral issue.

Pope Francis Prays for Victims and Responders at 9/11 Memorial in NYC

 

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Pope Francis will conduct an multi-faith prayer meeting at the 9/11 Memorial site in lower Manhattan tomorrow at 11:30 am. As he has done throughout his whirlwind trip to the Americas, he will bring healing and love to all who are still suffering the wounds of 9/11.

The Pope will also meet the families of victims and responders on the plaza and then pause himself to reflect.

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, chaplain to the FDNY, said there is no more appropriate place for the Pope to visit and for clergy of different faiths to come together as one.

“Obviously those who sought to destroy us on 9/11 didn’t want us to practice our respective traditions, they wanted us not to be together, so we answer that horror by saying we are going to be one family,” said Potasnik, who will attend the meeting. “I think us being together with him offering a special blessing and a message will be a resounding response to what occurred on 9/11.”

“So here he [the Pope] comes now to Ground Zero and I’m sure he will once again strongly, strongly condemn those who somehow feel it is their mission, it is somehow part of their perverse ideology to destroy us.” 

As the Pope stated in Washington DC today:

“We know that Jesus wanted to show solidarity with every person. He wanted everyone to experience his companionship, his help and his love. He identified with all those who suffer, who weep, who suffer any kind of injustice.”

Thank you Francis.

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