In News, September 11th Victim Compensation Fund

The American Journal of Industrial Medicine recently published an article titled “Impact of 9/11-Related Chronic Conditions and PTSD Comorbidity on Early Retirement and Job Loss among World Trade Center Disaster Rescue and Recovery Workers.” The article is co-authored by Dr. Steven Stellman, Former Research Director of the World Trade Center Health Registry and professor of Epidemiology at Columbia University. Its focus is on the heretofore unexamined economic impacts of 9/11-related chronic health conditions among 7,662 rescue and recovery workers who participated in World Trade Center Health Registry surveys.

The scientists studied the association of 9/11-related physical conditions with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the effects on income, retirement, and job loss before age 60. They concluded that 9/11-related physical and psychological conditions directly impact premature labor force exit, and cause a loss of income. Further, its authors recommended that future research regarding disaster impact should include its long-term impact on labor force.

Specifically, the study found that ten years after 9/11 about 7% of non-uniformed rescue and recovery workers prematurely left their jobs. About half exited the labor force through early retirement, while the other half suffered health-related job loss. This was particularly true among the non-uniformed rescue and recovery workers age 60 or younger in 2008. Members of this age group who suffered from the most serious 9/11-related health conditions were most likely to retire before 60, and most likely to be unemployed due to health issues; showing a clear impact of 9/11 on job and income loss. With regard to the 20% of survey participants who suffer from PTSD, their chances of early retirement doubled and their odds of health-related job loss increased 10-fold.

The total economic impact in dollars of the job and income loss due to 9/11-related health conditions is yet to be determined. However, it has previously been reported that the terrorist attacks on 9/11 directly caused 83,000 jobs to be lost, which amounted to $17 billion in lost wages. During in the initial three months after 9/11, 143,000 jobs were lost per month. The hotel industry experienced a particularly significant economic downturn, with revenue per available room rates decreasing 30 to 40% monthly during the first year after 9/11.

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The World Trade Center Health Registry, which opened in 2003, has enrolled 71,000 people who lived, worked, attended school in Lower Manhattan, or who participated in 9/11 rescue and recovery. Data obtained by the Registry has proved invaluable to researchers, producing nearly 70 papers studying topics such as 9/11-related physical and psychological conditions, health care access, birth rates, child and adolescent behavior, disaster response, and the compounding impact of Hurricane Sandy on those exposed to 9/11. Dr. Stellman commented regarding the necessity of monitoring through the Registry, “We generously respond to disasters by providing immediate humanitarian aid, but disasters can also have a long lasting effect on many people. Fifteen years is not a long time, particularly considering much of the data that we’re reporting ends about three to give years earlier than today. For chronic diseases, much of the story is still to be written.”

9/11 Victim Compensation

Individuals who have lost income or employment due to 9/11 related physical conditions should be aware of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF). Eligible VCF claimants include individuals who were in Lower Manhattan, at Fresh Kills Landfill, or on routes of debris removal such as piers and barges between 9/11/01 and 5/30/02, and later developed a 9/11-related physical health condition. The VCF provides a one-time, lump-sum, tax-free payment of compensation which includes a pain and suffering award, lost earnings, replacement services, and out-of-pocket medical expenses.

 

The following conditions are currently eligible for victim compensation through the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. This list is subject to change as the WTC Health Program Administrator, Dr. John Howard, and the Scientific/Technical Advisory Committee continue to review research, statistics, and studies in order to identify new conditions for coverage.

For more information, contact Pitta & Baione LLP at 844-WTC-COMP or info@pittabaione.com.

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