WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Justice Department says a $2.78 billion compensation fund for Ground Zero workers and others experiencing long-term health effects from the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks is now open for claimants to register.

Created by Congress, the fund is designed to help people suffering from lung disease and other respiratory ailments connected to the tons of caustic dust that blanketed Lower Manhattan after the collapse of the twin towers.

Lawyer Daniel Hansen, who represents many people who got sick after 9/11, called the move a “a step in the right direction,” but added that more should be done.

“At this point in time, given the potential number of claimants, it’s certainly not enough, but it is a step in the right direction,” Hansen told 1010 WINS.

As of Monday, victims are able to register online and receive a checklist of documents and information needed to accompany their claim submissions. They also can access a list of frequently asked questions on the fund’s website, http://www.vcf.gov/.

“Most of our clients have been sick and getting sicker over time and they are satisfied, not happy, but satisfied, that there’s been continued medical care that was provided over the summer and that the registration process to get on the road to file a claim has started today,” Hansen said.

The fund will begin accepting claims through the website next month. Staffers also will offer seminars on how to submit claims.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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