Many people who lived, worked, or attended school in the vicinity of the World Trade Center in the year following the attacks of September 11th knew, back in 2001 or 2002, that the dust, fumes, smoke and stress had affected their health negatively. New asthma diagnoses spiked as did other types of lung and respiratory disease. For some people, more insidious health effects did not become apparent until years later — cancer, in particular, may go a long time without discovery.
However even if you did not register for the WTC Health Program when it first became available, or if you did not qualify for 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) when the first fund opened, you may still qualify for those benefits today. The test for eligibility for both programs rests on when you were exposed to the crash sites or crash site debris as well as whether and what kind of physical or mental injury you suffered.
To receive compensation from the September 11th Victim Compensation fund, you must show that you were present at one of the crash sites at the time of the crashes in their immediate aftermath. The law reopening the VCF defines immediate aftermath as ending on May 30, 2002. Then, you must show that you suffer one of the covered conditions. These include:
- Lung disease
- Problems with nasal passages and sinuses
- Gastro-esophageal reflux disorder (GERD)
- Sleep apnea related to WTC-caused or exacerbated lung and airway disease
- Low back pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries
- Certain types of cancer
Unfortunately, the VCF does not compensate any of the mental health problems common among WTC survivors, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, depression and substance abuse problems.
The WTC Health Program does offer free or low-cost care for those struggling against 9/11-related mental health issues. It also provides treatment for all of the physical conditions listed above. For more information, please see our post 9/11 injuries website.