NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The deadline to register for the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund is fast approaching, and local lawmakers are doing what they can to make sure no one who might qualify misses out.
Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) will hold a forum on Staten Island on Wednesday to help people register for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund before the program closes on Oct. 3.
Speaking to WCBS 880’s Steve Scott on Tuesday, Grimm said people typically only think of first responders as eligible for the fund.
“There’s also plenty of iron workers and construction employees that were on the pile for months. There’s also people that lived in that immediate area that was there every day,” Grimm told Scott. “So, anyone that was on the pile that was unfortunately in the zone of exposure, they need to know that time is running out and they have to sign up for the compensation fund if they’re going to be eligible.”
Grimm said the information session is aimed at those who may not even realize they are eligible for federal help.
“This is really about building that awareness – it’s for everyone that was in the exposure zone, anyone that could be afflicted or has been afflicted,” said Grimm. “This is [also] for families, for those that unfortunately had someone already pass away, someone that had died because of the exposure to whatever toxins and so on from Ground Zero.”
The congressman, who was a 9/11 first responder himself, said there were a lot of construction workers at the World Trade Center site in the immediate aftermath of the attack, breathing the contaminated air. He said they are eligible for help, just as the emergency responders are.
“It is really a pretty wide group of people that might not realize they are eligible. But if they don’t meet this Oct. 3 deadline then they’re not going to be eligible,” Grimm told Scott. “Even if you’re not sick right now, you never know what could happen tomorrow or a week from now. We don’t know all the effects of 9/11 and it’s really important that they sign up and preserve their rights.”
In June, other local lawmakers urged anyone who may qualify to register for the VCF.
“Some illnesses do not come forward until years later. The bill now covers cancers, so God forbid if you get a cancer later on and if you haven’t registered then you will not be covered with compensation and the support that you deserve,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney said at the time. “The point is whether you’re sick or not, remember to register. If you do not register, then the program cannot help you.”
The information session will be held at the Jewish Community Center at 1466 Manor Road in the Castleton Corners section of Staten Island at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 21.
Experts from the VCF will be on hand to help answer questions and provide information to those in attendance, Grimm said.
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