LOWER MANHATTAN — With the Oct. 3 deadline to sign up for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund fast approaching, one advocacy group is hoping to make the online registration process a bit easier.
The Victim Compensation Fund is a $2.8 billion federally funded program that’s offering compensation for all survivors, first responders, area workers, volunteers and residents below Canal Street who became sick because of their exposure to the toxic aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks. Those who qualify will be compensated for their medical bills, as well as for lost wages.
The list of covered illnesses includes many cancers and respiratory illnesses, but the fund does not cover mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Time is really of the essence now for people to register for the fund,” said 9/11 Environmental Action director Kimberly Flynn. “We made the video to make a big, final push to get people to register, and also do what we can to help simplify the online process.”
People can register through the mail, but the online process is easier, Flynn said.
Registering for the fund requires just basic personal information, and answering a few quick questions. Signing up by the Oct. 3. deadline is necessary to secure your right to file a more detailed claim before the fund closes in 2016.
The fund is one piece of the Zadroga Act, a $4.3 billion congressional bill passed in 2010 that also funds the WTC Health Program, which provides free medical care for those who are still sick more than 12 years after the attacks.
The WTC Health Program does not have a deadline and is still open for enrollment.
“I think there’s a lot of confusion about what’s available to people who continue to suffer with ailments after 9/11," Flynn said. “We want people to know that these programs are here and available to help.”
According to the Victim Compensation Fund's statistics, 30,000 people have registered as of Sept. 15. But Flynn's organization estimates that more than 400,000 New Yorkers may be eligible for the fund.
There's no cap on how much each claimant could eventually receive, but it may take some time to see the full payout.
As Shelia Birnbaum, the special master for the fund, wades through the claims, those approved for money will initially only get about 10 percent of their full award. The full amount won't be paid out until after the fund closes in 2016.
"You don't lose anything by registering now," Flynn said. "When in doubt, just register, otherwise your chance for needed funds may be lost."