NYS Workers Compensation Board Urges World Trade Center Volunteer Fund Claimants To Apply For The Zadroga Act Fund

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The NYS Workers' Compensation Board‘s Office of the Advocate for Injured Workers has been a major supporter for World Trade Center Volunteers in receiving compensation for their illnesses and injuries related to the events of 9/11.  All claimants receiving benefits under the WTC Volunteer Fund are being encouraged by the Workers' Compensation Board to apply for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Under the James Zadroga Act.

 

The World Trade Center Volunteer Fund and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) are two separate entities. The WTC Volunteer Fund was set up in 2002 by Congress to provide Workers' Compensation benefits for unpaid Volunteers who assisted in clean-up, recovery and rescue efforts during the event of 9/11 and the aftermath. Typically, unpaid Volunteers are not entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits but an exception to the law was made for 9/11 Volunteers only.

 

The James Zadroga Act was signed on January 2, 2011 by President Obama in order to provide medical care and compensation to individuals who have suffered illnesses, injuries and death as a direct result of the events of 9/11 and the aftermath including clean-up, recovery and rescue efforts.  The Zadroga Act paved way for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 to be re-opened to new applicants.   Applying to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund will not forfeit any benefits provided by World Trade Center Volunteer Fund. All new applicants must register with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund no later than October 3, 2013.

 

The NYS Workers' Compensation Board also encourages claimants to participate in the World Trade Center Health Program which is another segment to the James Zadroga Act. If you are planning to apply to the VCF, it is a good idea to participate in the WTC Health Program, not only for the benefit of free health care for your 9/11 related illnesses, but because it is recognized by the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund as an extremely valuable source of medical documentation when reviewing cases. The VCF holds the WTC Health Program in high regard because the doctors that participate in the World Trade Center Health program specialize in 9/11 related illnesses. This can be an advantage to your 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund case.

 

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

September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Open for "Eligibility" Determinations

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September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) Special Master Sheila Birnbaum officially reopened the Fund today for new claims.  Prior to today, claimants could only "register" for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, which was not the same as filing for "eligibility" or "compensation" under the Fund.  Now, a claimant can file online to see if they are "eligible" for possible compensation under the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.  Actual VCF "compensation claim" forms will still not be available until the end of November.  Click here for a down-loadable PDF Instruction Sheet for filing 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund "Eligibility" claims.

Ms. Birnbaum also announced today upcoming free legal clinics, staffed by volunteer lawyers, for those claimants who would like to file their VCF claim without a lawyer.  These clinics will be held at the New York City Bar Association on November 7th, 2-4pm and December 13th, 6-8pm. Pre-registration is required by calling 1-855-885-1555.  Click here fore more details.

Claimants already represented by Turley, Hansen & Partners do not need to complete anything for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund online through the official Victim Compensation Fund website. That is our job.

As you know, we have been collecting the necessary medical, financial and "proof of presence" evidence on your behalf for months now.  We will continue to prepare your claim for filing once all the evidence is gathered so we can present your claim properly. Please call with any questions.

Zadroga Act Attorney Daniel J. Hansen Publishes Article on WTC 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Claims

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Daniel J. Hansen, one of New York City's most successful trial attorneys, recently published an article on the new Zadroga 9/11 Act in The Suffolk Lawyer, the official publication of the Suffolk County Bar Association, located in Long Island, New York. Last year, Mr. Hansen obtained a $19.6 million verdict for an injured construction worker.Dan is based out of our Manhattan office in the historic Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway.

The article details the differences between the original 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and the Zadroga Act Fund which is slated to re-open this summer. Specifically, there are considerable differences in the definitions of who is a "WTC first responder" and what was the "WTC crash site"  for eligibility purposes. The good news is that generally, the Zadroga 9/11 Act greatly expands coverage for injured and ill rescue, recovery and clean-up workers.   

You can see Daniel Hansen's article on the Zadroga 9/11 Act from the Suffolk Lawyer here.

Facts About 9/11 Victims Compensation Under The Zadroga Act

Facts About 9/11 Victims Compensation Under The Zadroga ActWhat is the Zadroga 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund?

On January 2, 2011, President Obama signed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010. James Zadroga was a NYPD Detective who died from inhaling toxic dust while working at Ground Zero. He inspired Congressional passage of federal funds that would provide for healthcare and compensation benefits to those who became sick or died as a result of exposure to Ground Zero toxins.

Who’s Eligible to File a Claim?

How Do I File a Claim?

Find out the answers to these questions by downloading our brochure.

If you have questions, please call us toll free at 1-855-WTC-INFO and visit our Victims Compensation Fund Information website at www.zadrogaclaimsinfo.com.

Zadroga Act Attorney Appears on Fox News with 9/11 Firefighter Widow

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Chet Lukaszewski, Esq. one of our Zadroga Claim Lawyer Partners, appeared on the Fox News' Good Day New York program this week with Jacki Kaht Fernandez, widow of 9/11 hero, FDNY Lt. Cruz Fernandez, who died of a heart condition related to his service at Ground Zero.

As reported here earlier, Chet won a groundbreaking Court victory for all NYC Firefighters who are fighting for WTC related disability pensions.  The Court told New York City that they did an inadequate job of evaluating the evidence in this medically complex case. Mr. Lukaszewski did his homework and lined up the proper expert testimony to establish that Lt. Fernandez' lung condition contributed to his heart condition and subsequent death.

It is exactly this type of hard work and determination that Zadroga Victim Compensation Fund Attorneys will have to expend to maximize their client's financial awards for those with the most serious Ground Zero illnesses and injuriesWe are lucky to have lawyers with Chet's skills on our team. 

Zadroga Lawyer Wins Groundbreaking 9/11 Pension Claim for Widow of NYC Firefighter

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As reported in the New York Post today, our partner ( and fellow Zadroga lawyer) Chet Lukaszewski, has won a groundbreaking 9/11 World Trade Center pension case for the widow of a NYC firefighter.

In the first World Trade Center Appellate disability pension decision in favor of a first responder, the Appellate Division, Second Department, held that the New York City Fire Department Pension Fund Medical Board had provided an inadequate rationale several times in recommending denial of a petition for benefits brought by the widow of Lt. Cruz A. Fernandez in Matter of Fernandez v. Board of Trustees of N.Y. Fire Dept. Pension Fund, Subchapter 2 (App. Case# 2009-06506; Index#26232/08).

The Appellate Division overturned the denial by the FDNY Pension Fund of a petition for line of duty death benefits brought under the "World Trade Center Law", which had been previously upheld by the lower Court, and remanded the application for further consideration.  The application was brought by the widow of an FDNY Lieutenant who had run 9 marathons during his career, and spent hundreds of hours at the World Trade Center site, and retired in good health in 2002.

But soon after he began to suffer various health issues, and eventually died in July 2006 as a result of a complex cardiac event while playing in shallow water with his young nephew in full view of his family while on vacation.  The widow's  multiple medical experts found the decedent to have died as a result of his toxic 9/11 exposures, as evidenced by coal dust found throughout his body during an autopsy,  including his lungs, and other scientific indicators that demonstrated that his body, particularly his heart, had been weakened by the toxins, which lead to the cardiac event that caused his death.

The Pension Fund Medical Board found the death to simply be a drowning, which was adopted by the Fund’s Board of Trustees; and in Court the Pension Fund argued that even if the petitioner was caused to drown by a cardiac event, it was a standard heart attack, with no WTC exposure connection.  The widow argued the black coal dust in the decedent’s body and lungs, known as anthracosis (coal miners’ disease), which was the primary factor in his death, was both a “disease of the lower respiratory tract” as well as “heavy metal poisoning”, which are both “qualifying conditions” under the under the WTC Law, and thus the death was WTC related.  

The Court held in reversing the lower Court and the Fund: "Although the Board of Trustees [of the pension fund] is entitled to rely on the report and recommendation of the Medical Board, the proceedings should disclose the reason for the denial, and the determination must be set forth in such manner as to permit adequate judicial review… Under the circumstances of this case, the explanation by the Medical Board was insufficient." The Court ordered that the Pension Fund Trustees to send the case back to its Medical Board to specifically address medical evidence indicating that Mr. Fernandez's drowning was precipitated by his heart condition, which was the result of respiratory distress caused by responding to the 9/11 attacks.

This widow was lucky to have our partner (and fellow Zadroga 9/11 attorney) Chet Lukaszewski as her disability pension lawyer.  Now lets hope the Medical Board finally does the 'right thing'.

 

Zadroga Act 9/11 Health Benefit Informational Public Meeting Set for March 3rd

 

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All 9/11 victims and first responders who want more info on the health benefits contained in the new Zadroga 9/11 Act should be aware of the just announced NIOSH informational public session scheduled for 3/03/2011 in lower Manhattan.   Troy Rosasco and Daniel Hansen  will be attending from our firm and will report that night on our impressions and analysis.

Attendance is limited to the first 300 due to space limitations, but their will be a call-in audio feed for those who cannot attend. The toll-free call-in number is 1-800-619-8873; pass code 8693287.  More information about the Zadroga Act meeting is explained in Jon Gelman's excellent recent blog post here.

Zadroga 9/11 Act Questions and Answers from Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney

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Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, and her top-flight office staff, provided a wealth of helpful information today on the Zadroga Act as interpreted by the reputable and unbiased Congressional Research Service (CRS).

Some teachers leave for home at the end of the last period of the day. Some stay late to give extra help to their students. If Congresswoman Maloney were a teacher, she would be staying late to benefit her pupils. She is a real professional and is showing it once again, to the benefit of all 9/11 victims.  

Zadroga 9/11 Act Sponsor Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Praised by Jon Stewart on Daily Show

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Jon Stewart of the Daily Show praised Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for her work on the Zadroga 9/11 Act  as a guest on his show last night.   A video of Sen. Gillibrand's appearance speaking about the Zadroga 9/11 Act is here.

As Mr. Stewart was praising the Senator, we should remind all of his own important contribution, among many, to the passage of this important bill.

Who is considered a "WTC Responder" under the Zadroga 9/11 Act?

Again, this is complicated, but you should read the detailed actual statutory language below. You should consult an attorney if you have questions on whether you are eligible as a “WTC Responder” under the Zadroga 9/11 Act.

SEC. 3311. IDENTIFICATION OF WTC RESPONDERS AND PROVISION OF WTC-RELATED MONITORING SERVICES.

`(a) WTC Responder Defined-

`(1) IN GENERAL- For purposes of this title, the term `WTC responder' means any of the following individuals, subject to paragraph (4):

`(A) CURRENTLY IDENTIFIED RESPONDER- An individual who has been identified as eligible for monitoring under the arrangements as in effect on the date of the enactment of this title between the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and--

`(i) the consortium coordinated by Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City that coordinates the monitoring and treatment for enrolled WTC responders other than with respect to those covered under the arrangement with the Fire Department of New York City; or

`(ii) the Fire Department of New York City.

`(B) RESPONDER WHO MEETS CURRENT ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA- An individual who meets the current eligibility criteria described in paragraph (2).

`(C) RESPONDER WHO MEETS MODIFIED ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA- An individual who--

`(i) performed rescue, recovery, demolition, debris cleanup, or other related services in the New York City disaster area in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, regardless of whether such services were performed by a State or Federal employee or member of the National Guard or otherwise; and

`(ii) meets such eligibility criteria relating to exposure to airborne toxins, other hazards, or adverse conditions resulting from the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as the WTC Program Administrator, after consultation with the WTC Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee, determines appropriate.

The WTC Program Administrator shall not modify such eligibility criteria on or after the date that the number of enrollments of WTC responders has reached 80 percent of the limit described in paragraph (4) or on or after the date that the number of certifications for certified-eligible WTC survivors under section 3321(a)(2)(B) has reached 80 percent of the limit described in section 3321(a)(3).

`(2) CURRENT ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA- The eligibility criteria described in this paragraph for an individual is that the individual is described in any of the following categories:

`(A) FIREFIGHTERS AND RELATED PERSONNEL- The individual--

`(i) was a member of the Fire Department of New York City (whether fire or emergency personnel, active or retired) who participated at least one day in the rescue and recovery effort at any of the former World Trade Center sites (including Ground Zero, Staten Island Landfill, and the New York City Chief Medical Examiner's Office) for any time during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on July 31, 2002; or

`(ii)(I) is a surviving immediate family member of an individual who was a member of the Fire Department of New York City (whether fire or emergency personnel, active or retired) and was killed at the World Trade site on September 11, 2001; and

`(II) received any treatment for a WTC-related health condition described in section 3312(a)(1)(A)(ii) (relating to mental health conditions) on or before September 1, 2008.

`(B) LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS AND WTC RESCUE, RECOVERY, AND CLEANUP WORKERS- The individual--

`(i) worked or volunteered onsite in rescue, recovery, debris cleanup, or related support services in lower Manhattan (south of Canal St.), the Staten Island Landfill, or the barge loading piers, for at least 4 hours during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on September 14, 2001, for at least 24 hours during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on September 30, 2001, or for at least 80 hours during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on July 31, 2002;

`(ii)(I) was a member of the Police Department of New York City (whether active or retired) or a member of the Port Authority Police of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (whether active or retired) who participated onsite in rescue, recovery, debris cleanup, or related services in lower Manhattan (south of Canal St.), including Ground Zero, the Staten Island Landfill, or the barge loading piers, for at least 4 hours during the period beginning September 11, 2001, and ending on September 14, 2001;

`(II) participated onsite in rescue, recovery, debris cleanup, or related services at Ground Zero, the Staten Island Landfill, or the barge loading piers, for at least one day during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on July 31, 2002;

`(III) participated onsite in rescue, recovery, debris cleanup, or related services in lower Manhattan (south of Canal St.) for at least 24 hours during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on September 30, 2001; or

`(IV) participated onsite in rescue, recovery, debris cleanup, or related services in lower Manhattan (south of Canal St.) for at least 80 hours during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on July 31, 2002;

`(iii) was an employee of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City involved in the examination and handling of human remains from the World Trade Center attacks, or other morgue worker who performed similar post-September 11 functions for such Office staff, during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on July 31, 2002;

`(iv) was a worker in the Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation Tunnel for at least 24 hours during the period beginning on February 1, 2002, and ending on July 1, 2002; or

`(v) was a vehicle-maintenance worker who was exposed to debris from the former World Trade Center while retrieving, driving, cleaning, repairing, and maintaining vehicles contaminated by airborne toxins from the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks during a duration and period described in subparagraph (A).

`(C) RESPONDERS TO THE SEPTEMBER 11 ATTACKS AT THE PENTAGON AND SHANKSVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA- The individual--

`(i)(I) was a member of a fire or police department (whether fire or emergency personnel, active or retired), worked for a recovery or cleanup contractor, or was a volunteer; and performed rescue, recovery, demolition, debris cleanup, or other related services at the Pentagon site of the terrorist-related aircraft crash of September 11, 2001, during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on the date on which the cleanup of the site was concluded, as determined by the WTC Program Administrator; or

`(II) was a member of a fire or police department (whether fire or emergency personnel, active or retired), worked for a recovery or cleanup contractor, or was a volunteer; and performed rescue, recovery, demolition, debris cleanup, or other related services at the Shanksville, Pennsylvania, site of the terrorist-related aircraft crash of September 11, 2001, during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and ending on the date on which the cleanup of the site was concluded, as determined by the WTC Program Administrator; and

`(ii) is determined by the WTC Program Administrator to be at an increased risk of developing a WTC-related health condition as a result of exposure to airborne toxins, other hazards, or adverse conditions resulting from the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and meets such eligibility criteria related to such exposures, as the WTC Program Administrator determines are appropriate, after consultation with the WTC Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee.

`(3) ENROLLMENT PROCESS-

`(A) IN GENERAL- The WTC Program Administrator shall establish a process for enrolling WTC responders in the WTC Program. Under such process--

`(i) WTC responders described in paragraph (1)(A) shall be deemed to be enrolled in such Program;

`(ii) subject to clause (iii), the Administrator shall enroll in such program individuals who are determined to be WTC responders;

`(iii) the Administrator shall deny such enrollment to an individual if the Administrator determines that the numerical limitation in paragraph (4) on enrollment of WTC responders has been met;

`(iv) there shall be no fee charged to the applicant for making an application for such enrollment;

`(v) the Administrator shall make a determination on such an application not later than 60 days after the date of filing the application; and

`(vi) an individual who is denied enrollment in such Program shall have an opportunity to appeal such determination in a manner established under such process.

`(B) TIMING-

`(i) CURRENTLY IDENTIFIED RESPONDERS- In accordance with subparagraph (A)(i), the WTC Program Administrator shall enroll an individual described in paragraph (1)(A) in the WTC Program not later than July 1, 2011.

`(ii) OTHER RESPONDERS- In accordance with subparagraph (A)(ii) and consistent with paragraph (4), the WTC Program Administrator shall enroll any other individual who is determined to be a WTC responder in the WTC Program at the time of such determination.

`(4) NUMERICAL LIMITATION ON ELIGIBLE WTC RESPONDERS-

`(A) IN GENERAL- The total number of individuals not described in paragraph (1)(A) or (2)(A)(ii) who may be enrolled under paragraph (3)(A)(ii) shall not exceed 25,000 at any time, of which no more than 2,500 may be individuals enrolled based on modified eligibility criteria established under paragraph (1)(C).

`(B) PROCESS- In implementing subparagraph (A), the WTC Program Administrator shall--

`(i) limit the number of enrollments made under paragraph (3)--

`(I) in accordance with such subparagraph; and

`(II) to such number, as determined by the Administrator based on the best available information and subject to amounts available under section 3351, that will ensure sufficient funds will be available to provide treatment and monitoring benefits under this title, with respect to all individuals who are enrolled through the end of fiscal year 2020; and

`(ii) provide priority (subject to paragraph (3)(A)(i)) in such enrollments in the order in which individuals apply for enrollment under paragraph (3).

`(5) DISQUALIFICATION OF INDIVIDUALS ON TERRORIST WATCH LIST- No individual who is on the terrorist watch list maintained by the Department of Homeland Security shall qualify as an eligible WTC responder. Before enrolling any individual as a WTC responder in the WTC Program under paragraph (3), the Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall determine whether the individual is on such list.

 

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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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