A Call to Action: What Retired Firefighters Must Do Now to Protect Their Rights
The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund has been permanently extended and fully funded until the year 2090. This means that all firefighters and officers who were exposed to 9/11 toxins are covered by the WTC Health Program (WTCHP) and the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) for the rest of their lives! Retirees make up the majority of those who were exposed, and must be especially proactive about protecting their health and legal rights. Here’s what retirees need to know.
1. There are two categories of retired members
If you were active on 9/11/01:
You and your spouse should know where your Notice of Participation (NOP) is. This is your proof that you were exposed to the WTC toxins.
If you are not in possession of your NOP, request a copy from the Pension Unit.
If you were already retired on 9/11/01:
You will need proof that you volunteered at Ground Zero and were exposed to the WTC toxins. Your proof of presence is best accomplished by having 2 eyewitness fill out affidavits. Even if you’re currently
healthy, get those affidavits filled out now, before your witnesses pass away, move away, or can no longer be located. Don’t leave this to your spouse to do after you get sick or die. And, keep those affidavits in a safe place for possible future use.
If you would like us to send you blank affidavit forms for your witnesses to complete, please call us. We will be happy to send them to you.
2. Everyone should go for their annual WTCHP exam AND full-body dermatology exam
Skin cancers, including basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, are the most common of the 68 cancers
linked to the toxic dust.
The WTC Health Program has clinics in all 50 states. You need not come back to BHS for your annual exam.
Prescriptions for 9/11 illnesses are covered in full by the WTCHP and are mailed directly to your home if you prefer.
3. Victim Compensation Fund Awards
While you should be going to your annual WTCHP medical exam and an annual full-body dermatology exam for your health (early detection really can save your life), if you need a financial incentive to go for these exams, you should know that Victim Compensation Fund awards are tax free and that claimants are awarded: $90,000 for basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, and $250,000 for melanoma skin cancer. $200,000 -$250,000 for every other form of cancer and up to $340,000 for multiple cancers which, sadly, all too many of our members have been diagnosed with.
4. Compensation for widows
Widows are entitled to $250,000 for their husbands’ pain and suffering, and an additional wrongful death award of $350,000 plus $100,000 for any child under the age of 18. Think of it like a free life insurance policy since, if you took the full option when you retired, your pension will stop at your death. A VCF wrongful death claim would be a financial godsend to any widow who has lost her husband’s pension upon his death. Please reach out to the widows that you are in touch with. While there are some strict deadlines, it’s likely not too late for them to file a claim if their husband died in the past 15 years due to a serious respiratory illness or cancer.
If you want more information about the Victim Compensation Fund or the WTC Health Program, please call us. All consultations are free.