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Deadline for World Trade Center Workers to Register for Workers’ Compensation Approaches

(Albany, NY)  People who performed rescue, recovery, or clean-up work at the World Trade Center have until Monday, Sept. 13, 2010, to register with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board to preserve their eligibility for future benefits, should they ever need them.

“I urge each of these heroes who performed that important work to register his or her service. They should do it for themselves, and for their families,” Chair Robert E. Beloten said. “Workers’ compensation is insurance for medical care and a cash benefit if your ability to work is impaired. It is vital that workers preserve their eligibility for insurance that will benefit themselves and their families, even if they are not now injured or ill.”

Since its introduction in 2006, 35,980 people have filed the WTC-12 form. It contains eight simple questions and must be notarized before filing. While the law typically has a two-year limit on opening a workers’ compensation claim, the WTC-12, while not a claim in itself, allows these workers – both paid employees and volunteers – to file future claims if they notify the Board of their participation in World Trade Center rescue, recovery or clean-up operations.

People who performed these activities in the area south of Canal Street, and at Fresh Kills Landfill, on the barges, the piers, and the morgues, up until Sept. 12, 2002, should file, no matter how long their service lasted. They should file the WTC-12 even if they are not ill or injured. Any worker who is presently ill and has not opened a claim should also file a C-3 form to pursue benefits. Residents of any state may register. Immigration status is not a factor.

The Board must receive the original, signed and notarized WTC-12 by Monday, Sept. 13. Board staff will be available in New York City metropolitan area offices to assist in completing and filing the forms. Faxing, e-mailing, and simply mailing it or postmarking it by that date is not sufficient. While the statute has a Sept. 11 deadline, the law extends any deadline to the following Monday when it falls on a Saturday or Sunday. Therefore, the Board will accept all WTC-12 forms that are received on or before Monday, Sept. 13. The Board will update and relaunch its Tell Us You Were There radio and television commercials, with former New York Yankee Bernie Williams, later this month to promote awareness.

Some workers, such as uniformed members of the New York City Police, Fire and Sanitation Departments, as well as federal employees, are not part of the state system. However, if those employees worked as volunteers in the eligible areas during the proscribed time, they should also file a WTC-12, as they may be eligible for benefits based on that voluntary service.

People who worked on the World Trade Center disaster should visit or call 877-WTC12-08 to get more information and a WTC-12 form.