NEW YORK - The newly reopened September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of $2.8 billion will start taking applications today.
The fund is intended to help people who became ill after working at ground zero and others whose sicknesses can be tied to the site. Residents, workers, and others can apply, including those whose claims to the first fund were denied.
“Everybody who is eligible should apply for this,’’ said John Feal, a leading advocate for injured first responders.
The deadline for applying is Oct. 3, 2013, or two years from the time a person learns that a physical injury or sickness resulted from exposure to ground zero. The program will run for six years.
Congress established the fund after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It operated for two years, giving $6 billion to victims’ families and $1 billion to the injured. Last year, Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to reopen the fund and provide additional help to people affected by the disaster and its aftermath.
Many illnesses common among people exposed to the site are presumed covered by the fund, such as lung disease and chronic sinusitis. But it won’t cover cancer, despite the protests of first responders who have been diagnosed with the disease and believe it is linked to their time clearing smoldering debris from the site.
Federal officials say too little scientific evidence exists linking cancer to exposure to ground zero. Next year, officials plan to review which illnesses should be covered.