How to Prove World Trade Center-Related Illnesses
On September 11, 2001, 2,996 people lost their lives when Al-Qaeda-affiliated hijackers flew two jets into the Twin Towers, resulting in fires and the towers’ eventual collapse. While the deaths of nearly 3,000 people were devastating enough during this tragic event, they weren’t the only lives to be affected.
Alongside grieving family members, other people living, working, and studying near the World Trade Center (WTC) were also exposed to deadly toxins released when it collapsed. Many lives were changed forever when they were diagnosed with illnesses linked to those toxins.
Due to the many people impacted, the World Trade Center Health Program was established as part of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) to provide monitoring and treatment for associated conditions. However, proving eligibility can be challenging, with many types of proof required. If you believe your illness is related to the WTC’s collapse, you might be able to prove your eligibility for the WTC Health Program with the information below.
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Illnesses Covered Under the World Trade Center Health Program
Illnesses are being added to the WTC-related health conditions list all the time, even though more than 20 years have passed since the Twin Towers collapsed. For example, uterine cancer from 9/11 was added to the list in early 2023. The addition included all uterine cancer types, including endometrial cancer. A number of cancers are already on the illness list, including:
- Breast cancer
- Mesothelioma from asbestos exposure
- Ovarian cancer
- Cancers of the digestive system
- Head and neck cancers
- Skin cancer
- Thyroid cancer
- Childhood cancer
The WTC Health Program also provides coverage for acute traumatic injuries, such as burns, head trauma, complex sprains, and fractures. What’s more, if the events surrounding the World Trade Center contributed to any mental health disorders you were diagnosed with, you might be eligible for coverage under the program if you can prove a connection. Some of the conditions covered include:
- Acute stress disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Substance use disorder
A number of airway and digestive disorders are also covered, along with musculoskeletal conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and lower back pain if you were a World Trade Center responder. If you’re unsure whether your related illness ensures your eligibility, reach out to a lawyer specializing in helping victims receive financial support.
Your location and when you were there during and after 9/11 can be important for establishing your eligibility for support under the WTC Health Program. All claimants must have been living, working, or studying in the NYC Exposure Zone or 9/11 Exposure Zone any time from September 11, 2001, until May 30, 2002.
The NYC Exposure Zone covers a significant part of Lower Manhattan, while the 9/11 Exposure Zone covers the 9/11 site, the Pentagon site, the Shanksville site, and other buildings destroyed by the terrorists. It doesn’t matter how long you were there for as long as you can prove that you lived, worked, or studied there during that time.
However, you must meet additional requirements if you were diagnosed with a digestive or airway health condition. There is a maximum time interval and cancer latency period for when you were exposed to deadly toxins and when you were first diagnosed with cancer.
How to Prove World Trade Center-Related Illnesses
It’s not enough to simply have an illness that might have come from deadly toxin exposure at the World Trade Center. You must provide a significant amount of proof to be eligible for assistance. Rely on lawyers to gather some of the following forms of evidence. With it, you might improve your chances of receiving the help you need.
While more than two decades have now passed, you might be required to provide a letter from your current or past employer confirming that you worked at the World Trade Center site during or after 9/11. The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund might also ask for a personnel roster, pay stubs that list your employer’s business within the Exposure Zone, and a sworn employer verification form.
Medical records can be required if you received treatment for an injury that occurred during the attacks or in the immediate aftermath.
Proof of Living in the Exposure Zone
If you lived in an Exposure Zone during or after 9/11, you’d need to provide proof of that fact. Fortunately, there are many different ways to do this, such as with utility bills listing your address, proof of rent payments, mortgage receipts, or a lease agreement. Your chosen lawyer can help you gather this important information to potentially improve your chances of having your claim accepted.
Proof of Studying in the Exposure Zone
Many schools and daycares were located in the Exposure Zone, and some people who attended those educational institutes have since been diagnosed with life-changing illnesses like cancer, digestive disorders, and airway conditions.
To prove you were enrolled in and attended an educational facility in the Exposure Zone, you’ll need to provide records for the relevant periods from September 11, 2001 to May 30, 2002. Sometimes, this can be as straightforward as contacting your school or daycare and asking for your enrolment records.
What to Do If You Can’t Prove Your WTC-Related Illness
There’s a chance you won’t be able to fulfill every requirement for the WTC Health Program. Some businesses change hands or close, making it impossible to provide proof of your employment. You might not even be able to find records of your housing or schooling.
The CDC recommends making the best effort possible to obtain the required details, but they also offer alternative options. You might be able to submit a third-party attestation, which is a letter written by someone who can confirm your eligibility. In this letter, they can include your home address, workplace, daycare center, or school, and describe your exposure to the dust cloud.
If you can’t find someone to write a third-party attestation, you can write your own letter, known as a first-party attestation. This must include the steps you took to receive the required evidence and details explaining why you weren’t able to get it.
The World Trade Center terrorist attack might have happened more than 20 years ago, but its effects are still being felt today. If you believe your diagnosis of a severe illness is related to toxin exposure from the WTC, contact a lawyer without delay to learn more about how to receive assistance.