New Study Links Heart Disease Risk to 9/11 Toxin Exposure

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Obstructive sleep apnea and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are unfortunately common illnesses among many first responders that were exposed to high levels of toxic debris and dust particles from Ground Zero. Two separate studies were recently conducted by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai linking both obstructive sleep apnea and PTSD to heart disease risk in 9/11 first responders.

The studies were presented by Cardiologist Mary Ann McLaughlin, MD, MPH of Mount Sinai at the American Heart Association’s EPI/NPAM Scientific Sessions in San Francisco on March 20th. Dr. McLaughlin explained that high exposure to the toxic air particles at Ground Zero puts 9/11 first Responders at risk for developing obstructive sleep apnea and PTSD, in which both may be a precursor for developing heart disease. 9/11 health research studies are done through the WTC-CHEST program, a sub-division of the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) Clinical Center for Excellence, Mount Sinai.

The research was funded by NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) and the CDC (The Center for Disease Control and Prevention).  The study of 800 participants was conducted from January 2011 through September 2013. The dynamics of the study included how long each participant was exposed to 9/11 particulate matter and how close in proximity they were to Ground Zero. The study also showed evidence that inhaling these toxic particles also increased risk of PTSD. Those responders in the study who had PTSD also had biological characteristics that point to increased risk of cardiovascular disease. It was found that those WTC responders with PTSD had substantially higher levels of hsCRP (high sensitivity C-reactive protein), a key indicator of increased cardiovascular disease risk.

Some of the particles that were inhaled included cement dust, smoke, glass fibers and heavy metals. Previous 9/11 health studies conducted has also linked toxic particle exposure to kidney disease among many other serious illnesses such as a multitude of different types of 9/11 related cancers. Although obstructive sleep apnea and *PTSD is included for treatment by the WTCHP, there has been no official rule or announcement by the WTCHP to include heart disease as a covered condition.  Dr. McLaughlin states, “As a result of our new study findings, we plan to further closely monitor our WTC first responders for heart disease warning signs.”  

Should you need more information about the World Trade Center Health Program or need assistance with your 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund claim, please feel free to call, click the chat button or contact us at the top of this page.

*For those who are applying to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund under the Zadroga Act, PTSD is not included as a covered condition for compensation.

Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley, Hansen and Partners contributed to the writing of this post.

Four Additional Cancers To Be Added Under The 9/11 Zadroga Bill

 

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Last week the World Trade Center Health Program announced that four different cancers will be added to the list of conditions covered under the 9/11 James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act.  The cancers to be added are; Pancreas, Cervix Uteri, Testicular and Brain.  These conditions are expected to take effect for coverage by end of April, 2014. 

The decision to amend the list of cancers under the World Trade Center Health Program makes it evident that there is a clear link from 9/11 toxin and debris exposure to over 60 types of cancer. With the addition of these four cancers, many first responders, volunteers and survivors will be able to get the free cancer care they deserve under the World Trade Center Health Program. It is expected that Special Master Sheila Birnbaum of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund will follow suit to allow these cancers to be covered for monetary compensation as she has done previously with all other cancers deemed 9/11 related by the World Trade Center Health Program and NIOSH.

 

Learn more about enrolling in the World Trade Center Health Program.


The proposed ruling also clarifies the definition of “childhood cancer” and “rare cancers” as covered conditions. Childhood cancer refers to cancers that are dignosed in a person that is under 20 years of age. Rare cancer will be defined as “ any cancer that has an incidence rate of less than 15 cases per 100,000 persons per year.”

If you were a responder, volunteer or survivor of the 9/11 attacks and have been diagnosed with any of the cancers that have now been added, it is extremely important that you register immediately with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and enroll in the World Trade Center Health Program to have your condtions certified as 9/11 related.

If you would like to make a comment in support of the ruling, you can mail to: NIOSH Docket Office, Robert A. Taft Laboratories, MS-C34, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinatti, OH 45226 or submit your comment online. Should you have any questions about 9/11 cancers or need help filing your VCF claim, please feel free to call, click the chat button or contact us at the top of this page.

Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley, Hansen and Partners contributed to the writing of this post.

 

World Trade Center Health Program Issues Medical Care Cards For Certified Cancer Patients


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Recently the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) began issuing membership cards to those enrolled in the program. In addition, patients that have received certification for cancer conditions will also be issued a medical care card. The WTCHP works diligently to ensure that patients are getting the best care and treatment for cancer conditions as well as any other 9/11 related illnesses.

Many emergency responders, recovery and cleanup workers, as well as volunteers have  become ill with cancer and other diseases since the September 11th attacks. Enrollment continues to grow each day and over 65,000 members are getting the free health care and treatment that they deserve.

The WTCHP medical care card simplifies the process of getting treatment for your 9/11 related cancer. With prior authorization from the World Trade Center Health Program, all you need to do is present your card to the authorized treating doctor.

The following are some of the benefits offered by the WTCHP for patients with cancer and other 9/11 related illnesses:

Free Health Care:  If you are suffering from a 9/11 related cancer or other covered condition, you are entitled to receive free health care under the WTCHP. For a full list of 9/11 related illnesses covered under the program click here.

Yearly Medical Monitoring: The WTCHP provides health evaluations and treatment for enrolled members. Whether or not you have become ill with a 9/11 related disease, you will get free health monitoring annually. You can still enroll in the World Trade Center Health Program if you haven't already done so. Should you be diagnosed with any covered illness, you will get care from doctors that specialize in 9/11 related conditions. This is not only a benefit in the care of your 9/11 related cancer and other illnesses, but it is helpful in your 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund claim as well.

Education and Research: With member permission, the WTCHP will collect and analyze data to aid in the understanding of conditions that are related to the exposure of 9/11 toxins and debris. This will help to ensure that the best care and treatment is given to patients throughout the duration of the program. The WTCHP website has many resources for information on how the program works and what it can do for you.

Please note that the World Trade Center Health Program is scheduled to close in 2016. It is uncertain whether or not funding will be available in the future to extend the program. There may be other benefits you are entitled to such as workers' compensation and 3/4 disability pensions that can help with future medical care and costs. Please contact Turley, Hansen & Partners for information on what you can do.

Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley, Hansen & Partners contributed to the writing of this post.

Governor Cuomo Signs Bill To Re-open Registration For 9/11 Disability Pension And Workers' Compensation Claims

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On November 13, 2013, Gov. Cuomo signed a new important bill that extends the registration period for 9/11 workers' compensation claims to September 11, 2014. Ground Zero workers who were previously denied a workers’ compensation claim due to untimely filing by the previous deadline, can now re-file and open a new claim. The bill now includes ¾ disability pensions which were disregarded in the last bill. Certain public employees will now have the right to file for new 9/11 related disability pensions.

Those who participated in the rescue, recovery and cleanup efforts at Ground Zero between September 11, 2001 and September 11, 2002, are now eligible to preserve their right to file future workers’ compensation claims and ¾ disability pensions should  they become sick with a qualifying 911 related condition.Claimants must submit a WTC-12 Registration of Participation form no later than the deadline date of September 11, 2014. This may be especially beneficial to those who are not eligible to apply to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund because they worked in the areas of Ground Zero after May 30, 2002. 

It  is expected that the filing of new workers’ compensation claims and disability pensions will have an impact on pending 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund claims. It is strongly suggested that you speak to a workers’ compensation lawyer knowledgeable in 9/11 claims and disability pensions as soon as possible. Ground Zero workers should register as soon as possible in order to protect their rights to future medical care and compensation after the expiration of the World Trade Center Health Program and the Victim Compensation Fund which closes in 2016.

The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board is currently reviewing their files to locate claims that were previously denied due to untimely registration. Claimants will be sent notification and instructions on what steps to take to initiate their claim.  Claimants who submit new WTC-12 Registration of Participation forms must keep in mind that postmarks will not be accepted. All registrations need to be in the hands of the Workers’ Compensation Board no later than the deadline date.  

If you need help in filing your 9/11 related workers’ compensation claim or ¾ disability pension claim you can call, click the chat button or request to be contacted at the top of this page.

Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley, Hansen & Partners contributed to the writing of this post.

9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Releases 2nd Annual Status Report

 

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VCF Special Master Sheila Birnbaum recently published her annual report on the overall performance of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund over the past year.  The report included a summary of key second year activities as well as filed claims statistics and administrative costs.

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund has made much progress by partnering with advocates and elected officials in reaching out to the 9/11 community about the October 3, 2013 registration deadline. Due to the advocacy and outreach, the effort resulted in the large growth of VCF participants as the deadline closed in. Registrations grew from 19, 733 in June to 48,248 by the deadline.

The VCF anticipated that some people may have had trouble with completing the registration process before the deadline date, so they made an interim form available. Anyone who submitted this form via letter, email or fax, was able to protect their right to file a future claim. These individuals were advised that they must still complete the registration process when filing a claim in the future. As of October 31, 2013, statistics show that the majority of Claimants fell into the category of “Responder”  with a total count of 39, 578. The chart below taken from the report breaks down each individual Claimant type.

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The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund also made great strides in working with third parties in order to obtain information needed for Claimants' cases. For example, the VCF has partnered with the FDNY, NYPD, and NYCERS. They can now work directly with thesee organizations on behalf of the Claimant to help determine eligibility and compensation.

One extremely important factor in a Claimant's case is having the illnesses certified as 9/11 related by The World Trade Center Health Program which is run by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). For claimants who were not registered with the World Trade Center Health Program, certification was becoming an obstacle. To speed up the certification process, both NIOSH and the VCF implemented an easier and more comprehensive form in which private physicians can fill out basic information about the Claimant's treatment. Once the forms are completed and submitted to the VCF, they are then reviewed by a contracted independent physician before sending to NIOSH for certification. It is still recommended that the best and fastest way to get certification of your illnesses is directly through the World Trade Center Health Program.

The report also states that most registrants still have not submitted eligibility and compensation forms. The deadline to submit eligibility and compensation forms in its entirety is October 3, 2016. Should you need help filing a 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund claim, please feel free to call, click the chat button or request to be contacted at the top of this page.

Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley, Hansen & Partners contributed to the writing of this post.

Denial Of 9/11 Disability Pensions Overturned: Recent Victory For Two First Responders

Attorney Chet Lukaszewski, a vital member of Turley Hansen and Partners' 9/11 legal team, recently had a hand in reversing disability pension denials for two 9/11 First Responders. They can now receive the World Trade Center disability retirement pensions that they deserve. In an interview, Mr. Lukaszewski says, "The Appellate Division feels people should be awarded based on disability findings under the World Trade Center Presumptive Law."

 

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9/11 Disability Pension Lawyer, Chet Lukaszewski

Under the World Trade Center Presumptive Law, an applicant who participated in the rescue, recovery and clean-up efforts may be entitled to a World Trade Center disability pension; for many uniformed civil servants, like Mr. Lukaszewski’s clients, an NYPD Detective and an FDNY-EMS EMT, that is a three quarter tax free pension. It presents a presumption that if you are or become permanently disabled due to certain conditions  and cannot perform your job responsibilities, then the condition is related to the World Trade Center disaster.  In short, the applicant does not have to present proof that his or her condition is related to September 11th and the aftermath.

Should the pension board disagree that the illness was 9/11 related, then it must provide solid medical evidence that proves the illness was caused by some other factor. The World Trade Center Presumptive Law also covers numerous ‘WTC qualifying conditions’, including cancer and psychological conditions.

The two individuals whom Mr. Lukaszewski represented, were diagnosed with illnesses such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other various mental ailments. The pension board ruled that the mental conditions were not related to their services at Ground Zero and so they were initiallly denied 9/11 disabiltiy pensions. Subsequently, Mr. Lukaszweski presented each case to the judges and it was deemed that the original denials were to be overturned. Click the link below to read the entire success story.

Two Denials Overturned -The_Chief_Story.pdf

In order to be eligible for a 9/11 disability pension, a World Trade Center Notice (RS6047-N) must have been filed with the New York State and Local Retirement System by September 11, 2010.

If  you have been denied a 9/11 disability pension or would like more information about 9/11 disability pensions and claims, feel free to call, click the chat button or request to be contacted at the top of this page.  Mr. Lukaszewski’s firm’s website is ChetLaw.com.

Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley, Hansen & Partners contributed to the writing of this post.

Toxic Particles Inhaled At Ground Zero Linked To Early Signs Of Kidney Damage In 9/11 First Responders

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A recent study of 183 First Responders was conducted by the World Trade Center Health Program Mount Sinai School of Medicine.  The study found that First Responders who were exposed to the toxic plume on September 11th and continued to work recovery efforts for at least 90 days thereafter, had higher levels of the protein albumin in their urine as compared to those who were less exposed. High levels of albumin may be an indicator of kidney dysfunction and disease.

The study was authored by Dr. Mary Ann McLaughlin of Mount Sinai and the findings were presented at the ASN Kidney Week 2013 in Atlanta on November 9th.  She reported that inhaled particles from Ground Zero such as dust, glass, heavy metals and other fibers that were in the air, could have been the cause of damage found in the lining of arteries for some First Responders. This damage in turn could affect kidney function.

If kidneys are not functioning properly then albumin can leak into the urine and can cause what’s known as albuminuria. Persistent albuminuria may indicate the onset of kidney disease. The World Trade Center Health Program is still collecting information and data about First Responders and the relationship  between Ground Zero exposure time and kidney damage. It is too early to understand the long term affects.

Although 9/11 happened over 12 years ago, it could take years for illnesses to become evident. Since the enactment of the Zadroga Bill,  many more illnesses have been studied and as a result have been added as covered conditions such as certain cancers and most recently prostate cancer.

If you would like more information about 9/11 related illnesses and claims, please feel free to call, click the chat button or request to be contacted at the top of this page.

Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley, Hansen & Partners contributed to the writing of this post.

Zadroga 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Makes First Payouts For Cancer

 

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This week Special Master Sheila Birnbaum announced that the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has made the first payouts for two cancer claims under the Zadroga Bill. The two Claimants, who have bladder cancer and urinary tract cancer respectively, will both receive a "substantial" award amount. One of the payouts is in excess of $1 million as quoted by Special Master Sheila Birnbaum in a recent article from the New York Post.

There are over 1,000 Claimants waiting for their cancer claims to be reviewed and deemed eligible for an award by the VCF. Once an award decision has been made by the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, Claimants will initially receive 10% of their award and the rest is expected to be paid out in 2016.

Overall, the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund has been allotted $2.775 billion for compensation of cancer and other 9/11 related illnesses.  According to VCF program statistics that were published on September 16th, there have been 78 claims that have been rendered compensation decisions for 9/11 related illnesses and over 2,000 under review.

As per 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund registration guidelines, any Claimant who knew or  reasonably should have known of physical harm resulting from the 9/11 terrorist attacks should have registered by October 3, 2013. However, if an individual was diagnosed with a 9/11 related cancer and diagnosis was known on or before October 12, 2012, then that individual has until October 12, 2014 to register with the 9/11 VCF.

If  you would like more information about 9/11 related cancer claims, please feel free to call, click the chat button or request to be contacted at the top of this page.

Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley, Hansen & Partners contributed to the writing of this post.

 

 

9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Registration: Important Information You Need To Know If You Missed The October 3rd Registration Deadline

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According to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund’s registration guidelines, as of October 3, 2011, those who knew or should have reasonably known of physical harm resulting from the 9/11 terrorist attacks should have registered by last Thursday, October 3, 2013. If you have not registered with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and you meet the following criteria as shown in the chart below, you may still be eligible to register and file a claim.

Please keep in mind that there is a difference between REGISTERING and FILING a claim with the VCF.

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If you have a 9/11 related cancer and you were diagnosed before October 12, 2012 you have until October 12, 2014 to register with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. Should the 9/11 Victim Compensation add any other illnesses as a covered condition, you will have 2 years from the date the illness was added, but no later than October 3, 2016, which is when the VCF officially closes. For example, prostate cancer will officially be added as a covered illness under the Zadroga Act as of October 21, 2013. Anyone who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer must register with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund no later than October 21, 2015.

If you are unsure if any of the registration deadline dates pertain to you, or if you need more information on how to file a claim with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, feel free to call, click the chat button or request to be contacted at the top of this page.

Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley, Hansen & Partners contributed to the writing of this post.

 

New Study Shows Escalated Cancer Rate Among NYPD Officers Due To Ground Zero Exposure

 

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According to a new study, the cancer rate among NYPD cops have increased five-fold since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The study was conducted by the New York Police Department's Chief Surgeon, Dr. Eli Kleinman and the Cornell Weill Medical center. The study analyzed cancer rates among 34,000 retired and current NYPD police officers from 1995 to 2011.

The study revealed that after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, thyroid cancer cases among NYPD cops in particular, had increased 10 times and non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma showed and increase of 3 1/2 times. Overall, 57 NYPD Police Officers have died of 9/11 related cancers and 500 have been diagnosed with the disease. The full details of the study have not yet been published.

NYPD and other officials are advising officers to watch their health if they were part of the recovery efforts at Ground Zero. Whether you were a police officer, firefighter or anyone who was exposed to Ground Zero dust and debris, you should enroll in the World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP).  The WTCHP doctors specialize in 9/11 related cancers and other illnesses. Even if you are not sick, the WTCHP offers free health care and monitoring.

Enrolling in the World Trade Center Health Program can also be a benefit should you plan to file a 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund claim in the future for a diagnosed 9/11 related cancer. Although the registration deadline for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund has expired, there are still instances where you are still able to register and file a claim. Click here for more details on VCF registrations after October 3, 2013.

For more information about the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and how you can get free health care and compensation under the Zadroga Bill, feel free to call, click the chat button or request to be contacted at the top of this page.

Angela Luongo, a Paralegal with Turley, Hansen & Partners contributed to the writing of this post.

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