NEW YORK—City and state employees who helped out at Ground Zero have three weeks to let their bosses know they were there — and help themselves with any future 9/11 compensation claims.
New York’s deadline for completing a Notice of Participation in World Trade Center rescue, recovery and cleanup operations is Sept. 11, the 22nd anniversary of the terror attacks.
Filling out the paperwork will create a placeholder for 9/11 first responders and any city and state employees who volunteered at the site who haven’t gotten sick from the toxic air that hung over lower Manhattan after the attacks — but could in the years to come, advocates say.
Even if you just spent your time at Ground Zero handing out water and sandwiches to first responders, you should document it, lawyer and 9/11 advocate Nick Papain said.
“They may not be ill today, but we know the chances of getting sick increases with time,” Papain said, adding that some illnesses, like mesothelioma, which comes from inhaling asbestos, have latency periods of 20 years or more. “Every month, more and more first responders are being diagnosed with some respiratory condition or cancer caused by their exposure.”
The notice of participation form will help people file for compensation under the state’s World Trade Center Presumption Law, which indicates that if a 9/11 first responder or volunteer gets too sick or disabled to perform their current city or state job, it was probably the result of their time at Ground Zero.
The form will be particularly helpful for state employees in Long Island and Westchester who joined in the recovery efforts with members of their local volunteer fire departments, Papain said.
Retirees who were there are also encouraged to fill out the paperwork, as well as those who worked for the city Medical Examiner’s Office and were tasked with sorting through the rubble of the twin towers at the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island.
“Even if you were stuck just cleaning the trucks, you should fill out a form,” Papain said.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed when terrorists flew jumbo jets into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Since then, more than 4,000 first responders, volunteers and survivors have died from an illness or cancer linked to their time at Ground Zero, according to the World Trade Center Health Program.
FDNY firefighters and NYPD officers can report their 9/11 participation to their pension board. All other city employees can file a form through the New York City Employees’ Retirement System.
State employees can file their participation form with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board.
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