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Officials Urge Those Affected By 9/11 To Register For Victim Compensation Fund

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - Time is running out for people exposed to toxins from the Sept. 11 terror attacks to register for health benefits.

As WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported, a deadline of Oct. 3 is looming for those who are sick or might become sick because of 9/11.

"After that date, you cannot sign up for the Victims Compensation Fund," Rep. Carolyn Maloney told Haskell at a press conference at 7 World Trade Center on Monday.

Officials Urge Those Affected By 9/11 To Register For Victim Compensation Fund

"Some illnesses do not come forward until years later. The bill now covers cancers, so God forbid if you get a cancer later on and if you haven't registered then you will not be covered with compensation and the support that you deserve," said Maloney. "The point is whether you're sick or not, remember to register. If you do not register, then the program cannot help you."

Maloney added that those enrolled in a 9/11 medical program still need to register separately for economic support.

Victim Compensation Fund deadline press conference
Al Hagan of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Catherine McVay Hughes of Community Board One (L-R) hold press conference reminding those affected by 9/11 to sign up for Victim Compensation Fund, June 23, 2013. (credit: Peter Haskell/WCBS 880)

"One thing that is important to know is that if you're being treated in the Health Treatment Program, that is different and separate from the Compensation Fund. You have to sign up for the Compensation Fund," she said.

LINK: Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund

Maloney and Rep. Jerrold Nadler joined community and labor officials and emergency workers on Monday for the start of an outreach campaign to publicize the available benefits.

Tens of thousands of people are eligible for free medical exams, treatment and medication under the World Trade Center Health Program. They include those who lived and worked in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn in the year following 9/11 - even those who may have been exposed just briefly to possible toxins.

There's no deadline to file health claims.

"It would be a travesty if people could get compensation and did not apply," Suzy Ballantine with the AFL-CIO told Haskell.

Uniformed Fire Officers Association president Al Hagan said some people are still too emotionally affected by the terror attacks to deal with registering.

"Whenever it's thrust to our attention, it's kind of like ripping a scab off the wound," Hagan said.

Oct. 3 is the deadline for the Victim Compensation Fund for economic losses due to 9/11 injuries.

Maloney and Nadler sponsored the 9/11 James Zadroga Act, which provides benefits to first responders and survivors of the Sept. 11 attacks, and their family members.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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