Log in Subscribe

A few of our stories and columns are now in front of the paywall. We at The Chief-Leader remain committed to independent reporting on labor and civil service. It's been our mission since 1897. You can have a hand in ensuring that our reporting remains relevant in the decades to come. Consider supporting The Chief, which you can do for as little as $3.20 a month.

9/11 ‘presumption’ deadline is Sept. 11


Four years ago, about 59,000 people who spent time at ground zero following the September 11 attacks were living with illnesses, disorders and injuries attributable to toxins released by the collapse of the Twin Towers. 

Since then, another 38,000 people, a jump of 65 percent, have developed or were diagnosed with illnesses and disorders traceable to the buildings' collapse, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

All told, 21 years after the terrorist attacks, about 97,400 people are living with illnesses and injuries caused by the toxins released by pulverized concrete, electronics, furniture and other material.

Not surprisingly, nearly 68,000 of them were emergency responders, recovery and cleanup workers and volunteers who spent time at ground zero in the immediate aftermath of the attacks and in the weeks and months that followed, according to the CDC. But residents, workers, students and teachers, among others also continue to be affected. 

And the number of people diagnosed with cancers, chronic respiratory disorders, PTSD and other diseases and disorders is expected to continue to increase, and certainly persist, in coming years. 


To ensure that they and even their families can have access to some state benefits should they contract disease, illness or disorder that can be traced to their time at and around the site, first responders must meet a Sept. 11 deadline to file paperwork. 

Filing the so-called notice of participation could help provide a presumption that being at the site resulted in illness, disability or death and help first responders qualify for accidental disability if they are ill or become ill. It also could help beneficiaries become eligible for benefits.

The notice is tied to the state’s World Trade Center Presumption Law. There is no deadline to file for the associated accidental disability benefit. 

Notice of participation “is critical because it provides a gateway to receiving benefits,” Nicholas Papain, a personal-injury trial lawyer, said during a press conference earlier this month publicizing the deadline. 

People eligible under the presumption law include those who worked at or around the WTC site, defined as the area from the lower tip of Manhattan extending to Canal and Pike streets; the New York City morgue or any temporary morgues; the Fresh Kills Landfill; or on the barges that ran to the landfill.

Nearly 3,000 were killed at the World Trade Center the day of the attacks. Since then, more than 4,600 people who contracted respiratory illnesses, cancers and other ailments have died because of exposure to the toxic debris and dust released when the Twin Towers collapsed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fully three-quarters of them were responders — from the FDNY, NYPD, DSNY and other city agencies and departments, and volunteers. 

“Every month more and more are being diagnosed with a respiratory condition or cancer caused by their exposure,” Papain said.

FDNY, NYPD, DSNY and other city workers who were present at the site or nearby should contact their city pension funds to file, he said. Volunteer first responders, and possibly others, such as press persons who worked near the site, should get in touch with the New York State Workers Compensation Board. 

Residents, workers, students, teachers and others who might have been exposed have no such notice of participation deadline. 

Papain said those people would need to gather independent verification of their presence, and suggested they contact the federally run September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, which has varying registration deadlines according to claim types and individual circumstances. The claim deadline for the federal program is decades away, in 2090.



No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here