Compensation Fund for 9/11 Victims Does not Extend to First Responders who Died of Cancer

source: Lehigh Valley Times   Oct 4, 2011

Ryan McCormick believed the debris he ingested at ground zero caused the cancer that would eventually claim his life, according to his father.

Officials who reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of $2.8 billion, which will start taking applications today, did not agree.

The fund is intended to help people who became ill after working at ground zero. It does not help, however, those who claim cancer resulted from exposure to the debris.

McCormick, who was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease in 2003, died in 2008. He was 34.

David McCormick, Ryan’s father, said Sunday that because the government “has decided to exclude cancer at this point in time because they say they don’t have enough evidence … is disappointing.”

“But I feel the sorriest for the people that are still alive suffering from cancer and they get no benefit” from the fund, McCormick said.

Federal officials say too little scientific evidence exists linking cancer to exposure to ground zero. Next year, officials plan to review which illnesses should be covered.

Many illnesses common among people exposed to the site are presumed covered by the fund, such as lung disease and chronic sinusitis.

“There’s no way you can tell us what was floating around down there was at all healthy,” Ryan McCormick told The Express-Times in 2007. He was a former Bethlehem Township, Pa., volunteer firefighter who worked for University Hospital in Newark on Sept. 11, and was one of the first responders to the attacks.

David McCormick, who now lives in Surfside Beach, S.C., said he is a Vietnam veteran who went through the same problem with illnesses related to Agent Orange.

“For years and years they denied, denied that there was any correlation” between cancer and the substance, McCormick said. “Finally they had this grand revelation, after half the people were dead, that this did have something to do with it.”

Congress established the fund after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It operated for two years, giving $6 billion to victims’ families and $1 billion to the injured.

Last year, Congress passed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to reopen the fund and provide additional help to people affected by the disaster and its aftermath.

The new federal law allocated $2.8 billion for compensation and $1.5 billion for medical monitoring and care.

McCormick said the law isn’t enough because it doesn’t benefit all the victims and it wastes time.

“It can’t help my son now,” McCormick said. “He’s gone. We can’t change that. … But I anticipate at some point in time, when they reverse all this cancer nonsense, his widow (Jessica Marie) may get some compensation from the government, but that’s not the important thing.

“The important thing is the people that are still alive and need our help now, get the help they need.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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