NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Elected officials and union activists are urging Sept. 11 responders to sign up for New York workers’ compensation benefits.

They say that those who worked around the World Trade Center site should enroll with the state Workers’ Compensation Board.

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Next Thursday, the 13th anniversary of the terror attacks, is the deadline to sign up.

The officials said even people who are not sick should register because it preserves their right to get benefits in the future if they do fall ill.

It also is open to workers who live in other states.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler said that “those who have paid such a high price” deserve compensation.

“This does not mean that you are injured or ill now, but it does preserve your ability to file a claim later,” Nadler said.

Nadler was joined at Friday’s City Hall press conference by representatives of several unions, including DC 37 and the Laborers Local 78.

As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported, Reverend Bill Minson spent months in and around ground zero working as a chaplain. He’s not sick now, but knows the air was like a ticking time bomb.

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“An incubation period for many of these cancers and things can’t be calculated,” he said.

More than 40,000 have registered so far, but neighborhood advocate Kimberly Flynn fears thousands more could have the window closed forever.

“If you did the work, then file,” she said Friday.

Rev. Minson says you never know.

“You hope you never need it, but just in case,” he said.

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