National Health Crisis--Claims Data Underscores Urgent Need for Congressional Action Regarding 9/11 Cancer Victims

 

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Nearly fourteen years after one of the darkest days in American history, lives are still being claimed by 9/11. Sadly, many of the first responders who rushed in to the World Trade Center to help rescue victims died on that day—and others who managed to survive are now very sick or dying.

Cancer Prevalent Among 9/11 Survivors

The World Trade Center Health Program reports the number of those survivors with cancer as of July 2014 at 1,655, up from 1,140 in 2013. The 1,655 number jumps to 2,518, when you add firefighters and EMTs who are tracked in a separate database. Health Watch estimates that at least 30,000 first responders developed some sort of injury or illness directly related to 9/11.

Citizens Ask Congress to Pass a Reauthorization of the Zadroga Act

Of course the largest number of VCF claimants reside in New York and New Jersey, however every state in the U.S. has one or more registered claimants, making this a national issue rather than solely a New York state issue. Currently, the last day survivors of 9/11 may submit a claim is October 3, 2016. Unfortunately, those who have more recently developed cancer or other illnesses directly related to 9/11 may find there is no money left for their injuries. The Citizens for the Extension of the original Zadroga Act areurging Congress to pass a reauthorization of the Act which will provide necessary funding for the survivors of 9/11 to obtain the medical help they so desperately need.

Victim Compensation Fund Will Soon Run Out of Money

It was not until 2010, nine years after 9/11, legislation was passed to help these victims and first responders. That legislation was re-booted under the Zadroga Act, however an unacceptable number of 9/11 cases are still pending, and the Victim Compensation fund is set to run out of money in 2016. In fact, the Citizens for the Extension of the Zadroga Act just recently released a statement regarding VCF statistics.

The statement noted that Special Master Sheila Birnbaum made an announcement regarding the fact the VCF is proceeding with claims processing, “moving forward to fulfill its mandate.” While the hard work done by Birnbaum and her staff is certainly appreciated, the Citizens for the Extension of the Zadroga Act feel Congress must take immediate action in order to ensure the VCF can fully compensate all eligible claims. This includes those the Program has determined are eligible for payment as well as those who are still waiting for a decision.

The Citizens group feels the VCF was not funded with sufficient resources to allow all those with injuries to be adequately compensated. In fact, in light of the amount of money left in the program, many injured and ill first responders and survivors with cancer, gastric illnesses, and chronic respiratory issues may face reductions in compensation. Those reductions could be as much as 50-60%, leaving these victims with disabling diseases and illnesses that can result in staggering medical bills and an inability to work.

How Many 9/11 Survivors Have Not Been Compensated?

The Birnbaum statement indicated the program has determined 11,770 claims from injured responders and survivors are eligible (out of 19,721 submissions), deeming 942 ineligible. Thus far, those with a diagnosis of cancer account for about 18 percent of the awards. The alarming fact is that although the VCF has resolved approximately 25 percent (5,636) of the claims in the amount of $1.3 billion dollars, that amount is half of the available funds. This means thousands of injured survivors of 9/11 could be left out of the VCF funding.   

Turley Hansen & Partners would like you to join us in supporting the renewal of 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 feel free to call, click the chat button or contact us at the top of this page.

 

 

Sick 9/11 First Responders Plead with Congress to Extend Zadroga Health and Compensation Act So that Future Cancers are Covered

Sick and injured 9/11 first responders appeared before Congress on June 4th in Washington and pleaded for the extension of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act.  9/11 WTC related cancers continue to rise as predicted and without this extension people may not survive their 9/11 related illnesses.

In a recent CBS interview, retired NYPD officer David Hawley spoke about the fate of cancer-stricken 9/11 first responders if the bill isn’t extended. He has had his own battle with a rare throat cancer that was a direct result of being exposed to Ground Zero toxins and debris. Hawley told CBS, “People are going to die, the men and women that are sick that are being taken care of now. I’ve only been cancer-free a little over a year.” He adds, “To end this program, people are going to die.”  I think Officer Hawley says it simply but powerfully.  Congress MUST listen!

 

Over 2,500 first responders, area workers, and survivors have been diagnosed with a 9/11 related cancer and may have Victim Copensation Fund claims in the future.  CBS also reports that out of these, 1,000 firefighters have been diagnosed with a 9/11 World Trade Center related cancer.

Doctors at the World Trade Center Health Program have dedicated years learning about the best treatments and care of 9/11 related cancers. If the law is not extended, sick 9/11 responders and survivors will have no choice but to resort to doctors that have little experience with World Trade Center cancers and other related illnesses. Private insurance or Medicare may not cover them to continue with their current WTCHP doctor.  

Physicians who are not occupational disease specialists and have little understanding of the treatment and diagnosis of 9/11 related illnesses would not only put lives at risk, but would also potentially hurt the responder’s 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund claims.  Doctors who do not have experience with 9/11 illnesses may not know how to document whether or not a diagnosed cancer was a directly related to being exposed to World Trade Center toxic dust. World Trade Center Health Program doctors know “latency periods” and other factors that enable them to certify cancers and other illnesses as 9/11 related.

The World Trade Center Health Program treats over 3,000 people who have been diagnosed with a 9/11 related cancer. It is expected that many more responders and survivors who were exposed will unfortunately become sick with cancer in the future.

This is even more of a reason to keep the WTCHP open so that anyone who was exposed to World Trade Center toxins can get their free yearly monitoring - early detection of cancer can save lives. There are latency periods in which certain cancers are not expected to surface until many years after exposure. This has prompted advocates for the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act to seek a 25-year extension on the bill.  Sick 9/11 responders now live in almost all 50 states. Is your Senator or Congressman listening? 

Sign up here to let them know you want the James Zadroga 9/11 Act extended so that those with cancer and other 9/11 related medical conditions can get the medical treatment and compensation they deserve.

 

Time is Running Out: Turley, Hansen & Partners Urges You to Support the 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act of 2015

 

Time is of the essence! The World Trade Center Health Program (WTCHP) is expected to close in October of 2016.  First responders and victims will lose all their health care benefits at this time. Your support and help are urgently needed to get the law renewed so that 9/11 responders and survivors can continue to get healthcare coverage and compensation for a growing number of illnesses, including a long list of 9/11 related cancers.

Please join the Citizens for the Extension of the James Zadroga Act today! It is a coalition of unions and victims’ rights advocates that support 9/11 responders and survivors who have become ill due to toxic exposure.  Please click here now to join the coalition and tell Congress to support the Extension of the Zadroga Act.   You can also Text "911" to 877877 to be connected to your representative or Call 888-701-7499Whichever way you choose, please act today!

We especially need support from members of Congress outside of New York and New Jersey.  If you are a first responder living outside the New York area, or if you have friends or loved ones who care about your health and live outside New York, please send them a link to this page and ask them to join also.

Many legislators and other government officials have been very vocal about the need for the extension of the 9/11 Zadroga Act and urge the public to support the renewal. New York Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney has been diligently advocating for the extension. On April 14, 2015, she proposed the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act to her colleagues in the House of Representatives. She made clear the urgency of getting the bill reauthorized so that 9/11 responders and survivors exposed to toxic WTC dust and debris can get the health care and compensation they so desperately need and deserve.

The list of 9/11 related illnesses includes over 60 different types of 9/11 related cancers and a host of respiratory issues that will, unfortunately, be a lifelong problem for each and every one of them. Subsequently, federal funding for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund will cease in October, 2016.

Even those who may not have become sick from their exposure should still be able to receive yearly monitoring from the World Trade Center Health Program. Early detection of 9/11 related cancers and other illnesses could save lives. Over 2,500 responders and survivors have already been diagnosed with 9/11 related cancers and unfortunately the number of diagnoses is expected to grow over the years. 

Turley Hansen & Partners would like you to join us in supporting the renewal of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The James Zadroga  9/11 Health and Compensation Act was signed by President Obama in 2011 and has been providing health care and monetary compensation for sick, injured and dying  9/11 responders and survivors.

World Trade Center Health Program doctors specialize in treating 9/11 related illnesses and can provide the best treatment options and care for individuals battling 9/11 cancers and other illnesses due to exposure. Without the renewal of this bill, first responders and survivors may not be able to afford treatment, and many will be forced to pay for treatments and care out of pocket.

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 feel free to call, click the chat button or contact us at the top of this page.

WTC Health Program Successful in Treating Kidney Cancer Case

 

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Nearly 14 years later and the effects from the collapse of the World Trade Center are still strongly being felt, especially by the first responders who offered their services at Ground Zero. A recent article on NY1's website reported on the success of treatments that responders with 9/11 related cancers are getting at the WTC Health Program.

According to the article,  Thomas Rachko, a former New York City police officer, is one of the thousands who have been greatly impacted by the devastation. His selflessness and his desire to help at a time of extreme need is what called him to sift through the rubble and debris at Ground Zero. Unfortunately, this caused his 20 year career with the NYPD to end.

What started out as a runny nose quickly turned into breathing problems and stomach issues. He was also experiencing pain in the left reno quadrant. After having several cat-scans and visiting a number of doctors, he was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer.  It was the doctors at the WTC Health Program that assured him that he would receive the care that he needed. Through minimally invasive robotic surgery, Rachko’s tumor was removed, as well as part of his left kidney. Thanks to the WTC Health Program and his surgeon, Ketan Badani, a new technique was used during his operation and prevented damage to the healthy parts of his kidney.

The WTC Health Program evaluated his condition via an imaging test, which confirmed a spot on his kidney. Fortunately, the cancer was found in its early stages, so his treatment was successful, and he has been cured of the illness. The cause of Rachko’s kidney cancer has been confirmed as directly related to the exposure of carcinogens that were at exceptionally high levels in the area of Ground Zero.

Thanks to the WTC Health Program, thousands of first responders, area workers and survivors have received the medical care they deserve.  WTC Health Program patients with 9/11 related cancers as well as others who struggle with pulmonary issues from exposure are recieving  care by doctors who are experts on World Trade Center diseases.  At present, there are more than 7,000 World Trade Center first responders and survivors who are eligible for free health care through the program.

Should you have any questions about the World Trade Center Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, please feel free to call, click the chat button or contact us at the top of this page.

 

9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Makes Substantial Progress in Processing Claims

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Latest statistics posted by Special Master Sheila Birnbaum on the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund’s website shows major progress in the processing of claims. After reviewing the latest statistics it is apparent that the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund has been moving quicker in determining eligibility.

Release of payouts are steadily climbing as the fund continues to diligently review claims that have been submitted and complete. This progress can be attributed to procedure improvements over the past year. Some of the most notable statistics that Special Master Sheila Birnbaum has reported on are the following:

 

  • Out of the 9, 677 Claimants who were determined eligible, 6,193 have submitted the compensation portion of the claim and 3,128 compensation decisions have been established.
  • The VCF has made compensation determinations in the amount of $804,116,233.
  • Out of all the Claimants that have had compensation determinations, 2,691 are first responders, 397 non responders and 35 are injured residents.

For the full statistics report, click here.

Should you have any questions about 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund 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.

 

 

WTC Related Cancer takes life of yet another 9/11 First Responder

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One of New York City’s finest and resident of North Babylon, Scott Stelmok, has succumbed to a multitude of 9/11 related cancers at the young age of 45. Stelmok was a member of the New York City Police Department for 20 years and was a first responder after the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. As a member of the 108th Precinct in Queens he was called to respond on 9/11, rushing to the scene to search for emergency vehicles that had vanished under the debris and rubble. What he didn't know, as so many others were unaware of that day, was that by doing his job, he would be afflicted with several different cancers almost 7 years later.

According to a recent Newsday report, Stelmok passed away on December 29, 2014, losing his five-year battle with cancer; an unfortunate common deadly ailment that has plagued many first responders who were exposed to the toxins and debris that permeated the air.  Cancer truly was his greatest challenge. He battled colon cancer, liver cancer and brain cancer. A little more than a year ago, Stelmok was diagnosed with lung cancer for the second time. It was determined by doctors that the contaminants at Ground Zero were the cause of all his cancer diagnoses. Even during his battle with his 9/11 related cancers over the years, he still remained heroically on the force until 2013.

Over 2,500 rescue and recovery workers have been diagnosed with cancer due to the exposure from World Trade Center toxins and debris and the number continues to rise. If you were a first responder, area worker or survivor, you may be entitled to free health care under the World Trade Center Health Program. The World Trade Center Health Program provides free monitoring and health care to rescue and recovery workers as well as survivors who were exposed to the toxic dust from Ground Zero. Even if you have not been diagnosed with a 9/11 related cancer or any other 9/11 related illness, it is important to also register with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund to preserve your right to file a future claim should you be diagnosed with a WTC illness.

Should you have any questions about 9/11 cancers and whether you are eligible to apply to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, 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 & Partners contributed to the writing of this post.

 

What Will Happen to Napoli Bern 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Clients During Current Law Firm Crisis?

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As reported in the New York Law Journal and the New York Post, the 9/11 law firm of Napoli Bern “is facing implosion and a court-appointed receiver has been designated to oversee firm finances”.  According to New York Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten:

“Right now this firm [Napoli Bern] is in a state of total crisis” and “It is on the verge of going into free fall to complete disaster” and “the depth of hatred in this instance is extraordinary”.  

According to the Law Journal, this is because of a brutal breach of contract suit between managing partners Paul Napoli and Marc Bern, among other pending lawsuits against the law firm.  Justice Bransten has appointed former Supreme Court Justice Ira Warshawsky, an attorney of impeccable integrity, as “receiver” to oversee all firm assets and finances pending the conclusion of the multiple lawsuits and firm infighting. A receiver is an:

Independent, impartial party appointed by a court to receive, manage, and preserve (1) a disputed property which is the subject matter of a court case, pending final disposition of the lawsuit, or (2) an endangered property for the benefit of those [clients] who are entitled to it.

The Napoli Bern crisis is an extremely sad circumstance which unfortunately could have a substantial impact on the current claims of 9/11 victims the firm represents before the federal Victim Compensation Fund.

So what will happen to all the current Napoli Bern clients with pending claims before the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund?  Unfortunately, my prediction is that many will flee to other 9/11 lawyers in droves.

When a law firm is perceived to be in free fall, many of the law firm’s attorneys abandon ship for more secure positions at other law firms.  The law firm in “crisis” then has significant trouble recruiting new lawyers to replace the abandoning lawyers. When this happens, the law firm in crisis cannot keep up with the legal work required by current client cases and this leads to the “implosion” predicted by the Law Journal. Let us hope the the receiver, Judge Warshawsky, can quickly stabilize the law firm so that client's are protected.

John Feal, the head of the non-profit 9/11 Victim and First Responders Fealgood Foundation, has publicly asked for an investigation by authorities into the issue of Napoli Bern expense improprieties regarding 9/11 victim clients, according to the NY Post. 

Where this mess goes from here is anyone’s guess.  However, the priority for all of us should be to make sure the 9/11 victims are not victimized again by the ongoing Napoli Bern litigation.

Registration Deadline for 9/11 Cancer Claims Only Days Away

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The registration deadline for responders and survivors who have been diagnosed with a 9/11 related cancer is fast approaching.  The October 12, 2014 deadline is only days away. Anyone who was diagnosed on or before October 12, 2012 must register as soon as possible. By registering with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, you are preserving your right to file a future claim. The 9/11 VCF provides a full list of deadline dates pertaining to 9/11 cancers and other illnesses. 

Over 2,500 rescue and recovery workers have been diagnosed with cancer due to the exposure from World Trade Center toxins and debris and the number continues to rise. Even if you have not been diagnosed with a 9/11 related cancer or any other 9/11 related illness, it is important to register with the VCF. It is also important to enroll in the World Trade Center Health Program. The World Trade Center Health Program provides free monitoring and health care to rescue and recovery workers as well as survivors who were exposed to the toxic dust from Ground Zero. 

After an examination of your symptoms, the World Trade Center Health Program will determine whether or not your cancer or any other illnesses you have are 9/11 related. If they make such a determination, then your illnesses will be certified as such. Certification is an eligibility requirement by the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. Both the 9/11 VCF and the World Trade Center Health Program are funded under the Zadroga Act.

The WTCHP is expected to close in 2016 which will leave many with 9/11 related illnesses without free care.  With the rising number of 9/11 cancer cases, many advocates and other government officials have been pushing for the extension of the Zadroga Bill to continue through 2041.  

Should you have any questions about 9/11 cancers and whether you are eligible to apply to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, 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 & Partners contributed to the writing of this post. 

9/11 Cancers Claim the Lives of Three Retired FDNY Firefighters on Same Day

 

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On Monday, September 22, three retired FDNY Firefighters lost their battle with 9/11 related cancers all within a few hours of each other. Daniel Heglund, Howard Bischoff and Robert Leaver were all  first responders at Ground Zero and as a result were exposed to toxic dust and debris.  Like many other first responders, they were diagnosed with cancer due to their exposure.

All three had different types of 9/11 related cancers. Leaver was diagnosed with leukemia in 2003. Bischoff died of colon cancer and Heglund succumbed to esophageal cancer. The toxic air from 9/11 has lead to more than 2,500 Ground Zero workers to a diagnosis of World Trade Center related cancers. It has been 13 years since 9/11 and the effects are still very present.

The untimely death of these firefighters have given lawmakers even more of a reason to extend the 9/11 Bill. The Zadroga Bill is expected to expire in 2016 which will leave many first responders, area workers and survivors with 9/11 related cancers and other illnesses without free medical care. Both the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and the World Trade Center Health Program are funded under the Zadroga Bill. If you have been diagnosed with a 9/11 related cancer before October 12, 2012, the deadline to register with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund is October 12, 2014. 

Even if you have not been diagnosed with any 9/11 related illnesses, but were exposed to World Trade Center toxins and debris between the dates of September 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002, you should still register with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund to protect your right to file a future claim. You can also enroll in the World Trade Center Health Program for yearly monitoring and check ups. Should you be diagnosed with a 9/11 related cancer or other illness, the WTCHP will provide you with free care.

Should you have any questions about 9/11 cancers and whether you are eligible to apply to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, 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 & Partners contributed to the writing of this post.

 

Hillary Clinton Urges Congress to Extend Zadroga Act - To Continue the Health and Compensation Benefits to Responders, Rescue Workers, and other Victims - Including 9/11-Related Cancers

Daniel J. Hansen and Hillary Clinton

Turley Hansen & Partners attorney Daniel J. Hansen expresses his thanks to Hillary Clinton for her devotion and support of the victims of the September 11th attacks.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared in lower Manhattan as the special guest for the fundraiser sponsored by the New York State AFL-CIO and the non-profit 9/11 Health Watch, calling on Congress to pass legislation to extend the James Zadroga Health and Compensation Act

Addressing hundreds of union members and advocates for 9/11 victims at the lower Manhattan headquarters of the United Federation of Teachers, Mrs. Clinton  remarked on the need for action, “Last week with the anniversary, we mourned. This week we mobilize.”

Mrs. Clinton, who was a United States senator for New York when she visited the site 13 years ago, described what she witnessed to be “as close to hell as I can imagine any of us experiencing” and that “watching firefighters break through the wall of black smoke, some of them dragging their axes behind them, it was just a scene out of 'Dante’s Inferno.’” “All you had to do was be there and you knew that there were going to be consequences to the people who had survived and the people who had conducted rescues and the people who were going to be there as long as it took to rebuild,” said Mrs. Clinton.

The benefits provided under the World Trade Center Health Program are set to expire in October 2015, while the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund is set to close on October 2016.  Mrs. Clinton noted, “The price of passage was a so-called sunset clause, and it will come due.”   “It’s absolutely crucial that we muster the same passion and pressure to extend the law that helped pass is it in the first place,” said Mrs. Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton thanked New York members of Congress, including not only members from her own party such as Sen. Charles Schumer, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, and Representative Jerrold Nadler, but also Seaford Republican Rep. Peter King for recognizing that this is not a “partisan issue,” but rather an “American issue.”

Just today, a bipartisan group of lawmakers from across the country introduced the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act.  The new bill would continue the World Trade Center Health Program and the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund for 25 more years, through 2041.  The new James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act would continue the World Trade Center Health Program that provides medical care and treatment for 9/11-related conditions to the over 60,000 first responders and to the more than 7,000 injured and ill survivors, and continue the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund to provide compensation for economic damages and losses for individuals who become ill from the toxins at Ground Zero.

Extension of the Zadroga Act would avoid the devastating consequence of the loss of benefits by the responders and survivors who are still battling serious health crises resulting from exposure to the toxins at Ground Zero.  There are more than 30,000 9/11 responders and survivors who suffer from an illness or injury caused by the attacks or their aftermath, with over two-thirds of those with more than one illness.

Extending the Zadroga Act—including the WTC Health Program and September 11th Victims Compensation Fund—would provide a critical lifeline for many, particularly when the number of 9/11-related cancer cases suffered by responders and rescue workers continues to grow.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost 3,000 responders and survivors suffer from 9/11-related cancers—including prostate cancer, thyroid cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, and multiple myeloma.

Turley, Hansen & Partners is a proud to have been a sponsor of the recent AFL-CIO 9/11 Health Watch fundraiser.  A special thanks is also given to Secretary Clinton, for all of her efforts and support.

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Turley Hansen and Partners, LLP, is pleased to offer Zadroga Claims Info as a public resource for information on the compensation and health benefits available under the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. Authored by a team of experienced attorneys...

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