- The Washington Times - Friday, January 17, 2020

First responders and survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have been given more time to ask for compensation to cover their health care costs.

The new deadline to file a claim with the Victim Compensation Fund will be July 29, 2021.

Michael Barasch, a New York personal injury attorney who has represented thousands of 9/11 victims and survivors, called the extension a “fabulous change.”

“So many people either didn’t know about the deadline or applied too late to be deemed eligible,” Mr. Barasch said. “Hundreds of people had Victim Compensation Fund claims denied because they didn’t register within the statutory two-year period after the diagnosis of cancer or the day of death of their loved ones.”

“It’s an unbelievable game changer and this will provide financial security to thousands of first responders and survivors in New York and at the Pentagon who previously had no idea or were told, ‘No, you’re not eligible.’”

The 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund was created to provide compensation for individuals who suffer from cancer, respiratory illness or other physical harm or who lost a family member from the terrorist-hijacked plane crashes or from the debris removal afterward.

After the 2021 deadline, the requirement to submit claims will revert to a two-year time frame following a cancer diagnosis or the death of a family member, Mr. Barasch said.

He noted that many people who are eligible to apply for the fund often don’t know about the program or believe it is solely reserved for first responders. The fund also covers survivors of the attacks, including office workers and former teachers and students in lower Manhattan.

In July, President Trump signed a bill to extend the compensation fund, which was running out of both time and money, until fiscal 2092.

The $7.37 billion program was set to end Dec. 18, 2020. Before Congress approved the extension, about $5 billion had already been spent, with thousands of claims pending. Administrators of the fund previously had cut benefits of the fund’s recipients up to 70%.

Under the new law, the fund no longer has a budgetary limit and extends the claim filing deadline to Oct. 1, 2090.

The fund caps non-economic losses from cancer at $250,000 and non-cancer-related losses at $90,000.

More than 410,000 people, including 90,000 first responders, were exposed to environmental contaminants in the attacks’ aftermath, according to a Congressional Budget Office report published last year.

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