WTC 9/11

Those of you who attended Stuyvesant during 2001-02 endured the heartbreak and terror of the attacks on the World Trade Center in a very personal way. How could it be otherwise when we watched from our windows the horrors of that day?

Some of you, unfortunately, may also have become seriously ill because of your exposure to the toxic dust that remained in the air for months afterward.

In 2015, Congress reauthorized the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.  The law mandates assistance to students, teachers, office workers, residents and first responders who lived, worked, or attended school south of Houston Street. Therefore, if you’ve been diagnosed with any of the 68 cancers or serious respiratory illnesses linked to that toxic dust, you may be eligible for free health care as well as compensation.

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act

This bill established two federal programs:

  1. The World Trade Center Health Program, a treatment program that offers care at no out-of-pocket cost to both responders and survivors*.
  2. The Victim Compensation Fund (VCF), a compensation program that offers payouts for physical health conditions (including cancers) associated with 9/11 and certified by the World Trade Center Health Program.

*Anybody who regularly attended school, worked, or lived below Houston Street between September 11th, 2001 and July 31st, 2002 is considered a “9/11 survivor” by the Zadroga Act.

World Trade Center Health Program

Survivors presenting with at least one 9/11-related condition such as rhinosinusitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), asthma, or sleep apnea, or those who have been diagnosed with one of the more than 68 linked cancers may be eligible for monitoring and care at no out-of-pocket cost. (A full list of qualifying conditions is available here.) Care is provided by trained specialists familiar with WTC exposures and available nationwide. Eligibility is determined by medical screening at one of the program’s contracted providers. Learn more about the program here:

Victim Compensation Fund

Survivors who have a physical illness certified by the WTC Health Program, even those that are non-cancerous, may be eligible for compensation from this program. (Unfortunately mental health conditions do not qualify.) Registration is open to anybody who was below Canal Street on or after 9/11, whether or not they are currently ill, and is the first step towards filing a VCF claim. More information about the process and requirements is available here:

Get Started: WTC Health Program and VCF Apps in Three Simple Steps

StuyHealth is an advocacy and outreach group founded in 2006 to help educate students from Stuyvesant and other area schools about the services available to 9/11 Survivors. For questions about either program, links to apply, or help getting your application started, please visit them at or contact them at [email protected].

Please help us spread the word to other classmates about the rights and benefits available to our Stuyvesant alumni as well as other neighborhood students and residents!


Why do Stuy Alumni Qualify?

Stuyvesant High School was among the many area schools that evacuated during the attacks of September 11, 2001. Students returned downtown only a few weeks later on Oct. 9. Unfortunately, we now know that the air and school were still contaminated with dust from the World Trade Center when students resumed classes.

After months of being exposed to unsafe air, some students have fallen seriously ill and many more suffer from chronic but treatable conditions like asthma, GERD, and rhinosinusitis. Many students also experienced mental health challenges as a result of their experience on or after 9/11.

Stuy Alumni Affected by 9/11

Michal Novemsky ’04 was recently diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016. On 9/11, she was a sophomore and she remembers when she returned to school on Oct. 9, “there was dust everywhere.” Other students remember the smoke-filled, foul-smelling air and seeing the fires still burning at Ground Zero.

Ms. Novemsky is now enrolled in the WTC Health Program which has certified that her cancer was caused by exposure to the 9/11 toxic dust. She is one of the thousands of people, including former Stuyvesant High School students and staff, who have been certified with illnesses related to 9/11.

These diseases include cancers affecting the skin, prostate, thyroid, lung, and breasts as well as rhinosinusitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, asthma, and sleep apnea, the most common non-cancerous illnesses.

Ms. Novemsky, her attorney, Michael Barasch, and Ellie Engler, the United Federation of Teacher’s staff director, recently discussed the WTC Health Program on Sonstein Sessions, a free podcast on iHeartRADIO.

Read more about other students who developed illnesses in the ensuing years.

For alumni looking for proof of attendance for a World Trade Center Health Program application, please contact Lila at [email protected] for assistance.

Additional Information

Anyone who worked and/or lived south of Canal Street between Sept. 11, 2001 and May 30, 2002 and has been diagnosed with cancer (All the hard tumor cancers need to be diagnosed after Sept 11, 2005.  The blood cancers (leukemia and lymphoma) need to be diagnosed after July 11, 2002 and thyroid cancer after March 11, 2004) and/or pulmonary illnesses in the past 15 years, should:

(1)         Register with the WTC Health Program (or LHI, if they live out of NY State) in order to have their cancer certified. The date that a cancer is certified starts the 2- year period to register a VCF claim. And,
(2)         If a retired or active school employee passes away due to cancer, their families may assert a claim within two years of their death.

One of the requirements of the VCF is for the claimant to submit two affidavits.  After filling it out, it must then be notarized. You may scan and email it back to Richard Alles at [email protected] or you can simply mail it to their office – see below.

We urge you to register with the WTC Health Program, which provides free medical monitoring as well as health care for certified illnesses, if you have no other insurance coverage. If your illness is certified by the WTC Health Program, you may then be eligible for money from the Victim Compensation Fund.  The date of certification, not the onset of the disease, is the start of a two-year-period in which you may register a VCF claim. (Please note: Family members of those who have died from WTC-linked illnesses must file a claim within two years of their loved one’s date of death.)

VCF claimants must provide proof of exposure in a sworn affidavit. You may choose to contact one of the many law firms handling this work, including Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson, which has handled claims for teachers as well as other New Yorkers. Congress has capped legal fees at 10 percent.
Please read the attached documents for more information.

Please spread the work to your former classmates about the rights and benefits available to our Stuyvesant alumni as well as anyone you know who might be eligible for these programs. We shared a terrible time together. Let’s share the help that’s available as well.

Please feel free to contact them if you have any questions or concerns.

For further information visit:

For Free Case Evaluation members may contact:
Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson
11 Park Place
Suite 1801
New York, NY 10007-2811