NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The deadline for 9/11 survivors to apply for benefits under the Victim Compensation Fund is fast approaching.
President Donald Trump last year signed a bill replenishing and extending the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund through 2092, essentially making it permanent.
Millions of New Yorkers who lived, worked or attended school near the World Trade Center site are eligible for financial and healthcare assistance under the fund, but they must register with the program before July 29, 2021.
Anyone who was exposed to the toxins can enroll, even those who have not developed an illness, but fear they will in the future.
Attorney Nicholas Papain notes thousands who are eligible have not registered with the fund, and they may be confused.
“It's important to note that registering with the World Trade Center Health Program is separate and apart from join the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund,” he said.
George Farinacci, with the Fire Officers’ Union, thinks the fund is especially important for sickened firefighters.
“Sadly, if they are disabled with lung illnesses or cardiac illnesses or cancers, they can't provide for their family the way they could have,” he said.
Papain – who represents over 3,000 victims living with World Trade Center-related illnesses – says there has been some instances of firefighters being reluctant to sign up for the fund out of guilt.
He says they often tell him, “I survived, but not my friend, not my fellow firefighter.”
The Victim Compensation Fund provides payout's based on illnesses and economic loss for those exposed to the toxins that swirled through Lower Manhattan in the aftermath of the attacks.