By Julie Shapiro
LOWER MANHATTAN — Five months after President Barack Obama signed the widely hailed 9/11 health law, thousands of sick recovery workers are still waiting to find out what the law will mean for them.
To help people get the information they need, the FealGood Foundation is soliciting questions online and passing them directly to Sheila Birnbaum, the recently appointed "special master" of the $2.8 billion Victim Compensation Fund.
"So many people have questions that have not been answered," said John Feal, a Ground Zero recovery worker and 9/11 health advocate. "We owe it to all those who are sick to get the answers as soon as possible."
Just a few days after posting the question form on his foundation's website, Feal has already received more than 160 queries.
Many people asked whether the fund would compensate them for cancer or post-traumatic stress disorder. The law did not include either illness, but Birnbaum will have some leeway in expanding coverage based on new research.
Feal has also received questions from people who received small government payouts in the past but have since gotten sicker and want the opportunity to apply for more money.
Birnbaum has until July 8 to release details about how the compensation fund will work. The fund will begin accepting claims Oct. 1.
The FealGood Foundation is planning a town hall meeting with Birnbaum in the New York area on June 29 and is now finalizing a venue and a time.
Feal said Birnbaum would respond to all the questions then.